The delicate balance: working hard vs. hardly working

As a director, I think a lot about spectrums. For instance, in rehearsal the other day, a director I assist spoke about finding an emotion on a scale of 1 to 10. He gave a note to an actor that his performance in a certain scene needs even more energy- that while the moment might have felt like a 9 to the actor, it’s only reading as a 5 to the director. In other words, the energetic output is completely relative to the person assessing it.

I’m bringing up this anecdote because I think it’s heavily applicable to the business of running one’s artistic career. As an artist, you might think you’re doing all you can to move forward- that you’re working at a 9 or a 10. However, others around you might assess your efforts at a 5 or 6… or even a 2 or 3.

Take a few days to talk to mentors in your field, and ask them what their day to day efforts are like. Or, find out what their schedules were like when they were your age or at your stage in your career. Always remember, there’s most likely someone out there working harder than you are…and that’s okay, unless after doing some research you realize that MOST people are working harder than you!

I often have issues on the other side of this spectrum- I see myself working at a 7 or 8, but others around me assess my work level at a 10 or even an 11 or 12. In other words, I often work so hard that I sacrifice other things in my life in order to fit in another project or opportunity. I think that this can be alright- on occassion. However, if you’ve noticed this tendency in yourself, it can be worthwhile to check in with yourself, or with honest family or friends.

We all have a different balance point on the work/life spectrum, and figuring out your own personal sweet spot will help you stay productive and happy for the long term!

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