Practices to Aid your 2020 Career Plan

In this month's advice column, film & TV industry Psychologist, Charlotte Armitage introduces everyday practices to help actors build psychological resilience.

Sometimes when you’re in the process of trying to build a career as an actor, it can be hard to see light at the end of the tunnel. Anyone who has tried to become a professional actor knows only too well that it involves a huge amount of dedication, tenacity, disappointment and financial outlay. For most, you will apply for many casting calls, and audition for many roles before landing something worthwhile, and this can feel like a very draining process. But for those who have the psychological resilience to keep pushing their careers forward despite the perceived knockbacks and challenges, the results can be incredibly rewarding.

There are a few things that you can practice which can help you to make it through those difficult times:

  1. Practice Gratitude: Being able to appreciate the positive parts of your life when you are in a challenging situation is vital in helping you get through the challenging times. Consider writing a couple of sentences about two things that have made you happy during each day or writing or saying out loud five things that you are grateful for. This reinforces the positive aspects of your life and can help you to gain perspective on life events. You might want to specifically think about what you have achieved in your acting career to date and how this has helped your personal development as well as your career progression.
  2. Practice Reflection: Reflecting on your life and considering the ‘how’s’ and ‘why’s’ of your day to day life helps you to process situations. You can use reflection to process, and learn from, a variety of life events, it doesn’t have to be related to acting alone.
  3. Practice Self-Care: Self-care is something that we should all practice regularly and not just when we feel overwhelmed with life. True self-care is about making difficult decisions regarding your life and your commitments to ensure that you are setting appropriate boundaries to protect your psychological and physical health. This could mean not attempting to do too much, trying to put yourself first or trying not to please everyone else to the detriment of your own health. Boundaries are fundamental to healthy psychological functioning and are a protective factor against mental illness so consider setting boundaries which feel safe and appropriate for you to prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed with the levels of uncertainty that you might face in your career as an actor.
  4. Practice Relaxation: Related to the point above about self-care, ensuring that you take some time to do an activity that helps you to relax, away from technology, is important in managing your stress levels. It is another tool that can help you to maintain a healthy perspective on your life and career. Without a doubt, it can be very hard to relax when you have auditions coming up, or even when you don’t have auditions coming up, both situations can cause equal amounts of anxiety, but forcing yourself to relax will do you the world of good in the end.
  5. Practice Goal Setting: Set realistic goals for yourself for the future. Having goals to aim for will be incredibly helpful. Make sure that you set goals that are realistic, achievable and incentivising. If you set unrealistic, unattainable goals this can be more disheartening than encouraging and will lead to feeling deflated when you fail to achieve the targets you’ve set. The sense of achievement you will feel when you do reach your goals will help to build your confidence and provide a sense of fulfilment in your career.

All the practices above will help develop tenacity and build psychological resilience. In my opinion, these are two of the most important traits that actors need to possess in order to have longevity in their careers.

Good luck! I hope that 2020 is full of career success for all of you.

Charlotte Armitage is the Managing Director at Yorkshire Academy Of Film and Television Acting (YAFTA). She is also a psychologist and helps people in the film industry with mental health issues. Read our exclusive interview with Charlotte.