In college, my theater professor used to reserve Fridays for answering our questions about the business of acting. One of the most important things he ever said was, “Every day, make sure you do something that makes you feel like an actor.”
At the time, I didn’t understand what he meant. How could I? I was in back-to-back shows. I lived, ate, slept, breathed theater.
Years later, as I began my career in New York, doing very unglamorous things like going to cattle call auditions for the role of Girl #4 (in trunk) and doing Moliere plays for audiences of two at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, I started to get what he meant. But it wasn’t until I had to really depend on the income of my day job that his message really hit home.
It took a while, but I finally realized just how much of life is spent doing things that you’re not passionate about. If you don’t resist that by feeding your passion a little every day, it will wither until all you’re left with is a job that’s not a joy, it’s an obligation.
“Every day, you need to do something that makes you feel like you deserve to be called an actor,” my professor said. “So even if the world only sees a waitress, you know in your heart that’s not what you are.” Doing something every day, he insisted, would see you through the darkest days.
I bring this up because I keep hearing that more and more of our independent #eventprofs are taking up day jobs to make ends meet or leaving the industry altogether. The turnover rate for corporate meeting planners is about 40 percent a year. The recession has put a lot of people out of work, and the ones who are still working tell me things are slow.
How are things with you? Is your life filled with work or do you have the space you need to fill your work with life?
I ask because if you are working a job that’s not your passion, start doing something every day that prepares you for what you would rather be doing. It doesn’t have to shake the world; it can be a small act: a picture, a pin, a webinar, a social event, cleaning out your contacts, reading a book, writing a blog.
Do whatever makes you feel like you are keeping one foot in the planning world. If you keep feeding that passion and sharpening those skills, when fantastic opportunities come along you’ll be ready.
So, pardon me for asking, but what have you done today to deserve being called a meeting professional?