Let’s talk about your career investments. Now, hold on just a second — I’m pretty sure that frowns just popped up on a number of faces out there, right? And I get it. “Investment” is not exactly an inspiring word, is it? For most people, the word tends to feel buttoned-up and business-y. It’s the sort of word your parents — or even your grandparents — use. But, if you look at the actual definition of “investment,” this is what you’ll find: 1) The process of investing money for profit; 2) an act of devoting time, effort, and energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result. Profits and results? Come on, that’s something everyone can get excited about!
So, what does making investments mean when it comes to your career? Some people think that it’s the same thing as what we call “being in your business,” which is all about making your commitment; it’s a position that allows you to work on your business from a more powerful place. And as valuable as that is, it ultimately means nothing if you don’t take your commitment to the next level. That’s what making your investment is all about — putting your commitment in motion. And I’m not just talking about a financial investment. I’m talking about how you choose to commit your time, energy, and money toward growing your business.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, the reality is that a lot of artists make sloppy investments, and those sloppy investments lead to burnout and frustration time and time again. I’ve seen it more than you can imagine in the coaching room: actors who constantly struggle with investing the majority of their time and energy in a survival job that leaves them with little to no time for their acting career; or writers who are burnt out from working on projects that have nothing to do with their goals. And I’ve also coached other types of artists who have invested their time and money in classes that have left them unsatisfied and, frankly, skeptical about whether those classes are actually worth the investment.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve sat across from burned out and frustrated artists, helping them find a way back to what it was they were striving for in the first place. So this is serious stuff, and it all comes back to how you as an artist choose to invest in your business. The reality is that most artists aren’t happy with where their careers are, and they can be reactionary when it comes to making investments. Unfortunately, these reactionary investments usually end up costing them, not just financially but emotionally as well.
A perfect example of this is a client I used to work with, a director by the name of Michael, who I liked to call the Yes Man, because he would say yes to everything! When Michael first came in for coaching, he was exhausted and ready to walk away from the business, because he was investing all of his time and energy doing anything that came his way. It didn’t matter what it was, and it didn’t even matter if it was a paying gig; as long as it was something connected to the industry, he took it on. In fact, he was so overcommitted that when he finally ended up getting offered a directing project that he really wanted, he had to turn it down because he was too busy and burned out to take advantage of it.
Originally Michael may not have thought of those other projects as sloppy investments, but had he taken the time beforehand to really assess whether or not they were tied into his overall goal of moving his directing career forward, he probably would have turned a few of them down. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
I don’t fault you for making sloppy investments. After all, no one sits you down after your craft training and gives you a guidebook for how to invest in your business. You have to figure it all out on your own, and that can be really challenging, especially when you’re up against all of the other challenges that come with running your own business, such as:
- Working for yourself
- Making the most out of limited resources
- Balancing the needs of your life with the needs of your business
- Carving out your niche in the marketplace
- Stretching money to cover both your life and your business
- Having effective systems for your office
- Having effective time management skills
- Keeping excited and energized
- Staying healthy
- Building your business in a sustainable way
Man, if that’s an overwhelming list to read, I get it, because I face these challenges as I continue to run my business. The good news is that you are already making your investment by reading this right now; you’re already spending your time and energy on your career. The challenge is for you to see and discover the ways you can do this even more consciously as you grow your business, and this comes about through assessing your strengths and weaknesses when investing in your career, and analyzing the returns you’ve gotten on your past investments.
As you can see, there’s no quick fix for this – it takes some work and some patience. But, once you begin to understand how you’re making your investments, you’ll see huge benefits going forward because you’ll be making informed decisions. If you need some extra support with this, I devote an entire Artists In Action lesson to this topic — check it out, or feel free to post any questions you have in the comments section. So, turn those frowns upside down when you think of the word "investment," and imagine how your newfound awareness will help your career grow like never before!