by Jill Place, The Acting Intuitive
I never make my bed. So when I walk into my bedroom it’s wrong . . . just WRONG! It’s the only place in the house that is. And it makes me sad and uncomfortable. Because my bookkeeper remarked just yesterday, “I’m so happy to work in a place that’s clean!” The bedroom door was closed at the time.
I don’t know why I don’t make my bed. It’s the last hold-out in an otherwise fairly ordered life. I changed the diet, started the exercise program, feel better than I have in years. And I have all these great bedding accoutrement, including cutesy matching pillows and down comforter. They’re on the floor right now where they live most of the time.
So I’m getting up . . . yes I am . . . and going to the bedroom. I’ll be back in a minute. Okay, I’m back. And I DID make the bed. Eventually. With detours to the kitchen, the computer, and the cat bowl. I even picked out what I was going to wear today. And smoothed onto the bed a brand new down comforter that’s been hovering in the wings in the linen closet for about a year. As well as putting up the old one and washing the duvet, which is churning as we speak. Oh, did I mention I also made my morning smoothie?
Changing for Good
I don’t know why people meander their way toward change. But a few psychology professors figured it out in the landmark book, Changing for Good. In it, they outlined the five major stages of change:
Precontemplation AKA “I don’t have a problem”
Contemplation AKA “I’m thinking about my problem”
Preparation AKA “I’m getting ready to face my problem”
Action AKA Action (don’t know any better way to define it)
Maintenance AKA “I better do it or else”
Have you identified some changes you want to make in your career and in your life? What stage of change are you in with them? Are you on the verge of ACTION but just can’t muster the courage?
How to Change
I strongly believe that the best kind of change is when you gather all the right information to make the change easier, so you can feel confident when you do something new. Then start doing small steps to get that big win. I guess I just outlined my steps toward Contemplation, Preparation, and Action. I also believe that you’ve GOT to go through all these stages to make a change successful.
That’s why you just can’t go out and get that big role overnight. You’ve got to learn about acting (Contemplation), then train and pay your dues in small roles and theatre, (Preparation) to gain the skills and discipline to excel in that career breakthrough (Action). I’ve seen too many actors start off great only to fizzle out when it came to that big break. It’s really easy to slip back into Preparation or even Precontemplation mode. Fear, disappointment, and stepping out of your comfort zone on a daily basis can easily pull you into a dark corner.
In Eating in the Light of the Moon, Anita Johnston storytells the myth of a person who saved herself from a raging river by clinging to a log. Later on, when the river calmed, and people beckoned her toward the far shore, she couldn’t swim that far. Because she was still holding onto the log. Johnston writes, “the very thing that saved your life is now getting in the way of your getting where you want to go.” The girl had no confidence in her ability to make it to the far shore.
Gaining Confidence in Change
It’s my theory that change doesn’t happen overnight. You can wake up one day and decide, like I did recently, to make your bed. But consider all the times you thought about it. And did some mental or spiritual work, or some kind of self-education, around it. Then you made it a priority. And got to it.
So here are some easy steps to change. Ones that will ultimately enable you to leave that log and swim to shore.
1. Come clean that change is necessary. Change can’t happen unless you fess up that it needs to happen. Doesn’t mean that you’ll do it all this week or this month. So cut yourself some slack there, because you can’t put the swim before the log.
2. Make change a priority. I don’t know any way to mamby-pamby this decision. A few years ago I was asked to be a part of a UCLA performing arts career day. I was approached by so many youngsters who said, “Perhaps I’ll act on the side”. I said, “FaGETaboutit!” Things don’t happen if you don’t make what you want to happen number one. That’s the way the Universe works.
3. Map out a plan. This is virgin sand we’re usually establishing a beachhead on. So a plan of attack is the best way to allay fears, doubts, and downright terror.
4. Do it every day. Recently, I made a promise to myself to exercise every day. I don’t always get to my goal of an hour. But, even if I can only get in 15 minutes, I do that. Consistency gives you the confidence to desert that log. Not only that, if you do it every day, it becomes downright painful if you don’t. So submit on a daily basis, even if it’s just once. And make those phone calls to gatekeepers like agent’s and casting director’s assistants. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become, until you make the bed every day. And swim the widest river with ease.
5. Forgive slip-ups and detours. None of the other steps will work without this most crucial one. “Nobody’s perfect”, then, has to become your mantra. As long you keep going!
Works for me. I made my bed first thing the next day. Now I need to tackle the pile on my antique chair.
Difficult as it is, forsaking an undesirable behavior is not enough to overcome it for good. Almost all negative habits essentially become our friends – even, in many cases, our lovers.
~ Changing for Good
Leave Your Comments About Changing for Good and Making My Bed Below
Can you share a time when change came easily for you? Or a time when it was so difficult you gave up? What was the difference in your preparation and mindset for change?