When did introducing yourself become the most anxiety-filled, shameful experience?
Remember when we were little and we couldn’t wait to say, “Hi! I’m Erica and my favorite color is blue!”
Or if you were really cool like me, it went more like this…..
“Hi! I’m Erica! That’s like ‘America’ without the ‘a’ and the ‘m’!”
I know, I know. My cleverness was mind-blowing!
Introducing yourself used to be so fun. And then LA had to poop all over it.
Because now, we introduce ourselves as our job. And when your current job is nowhere near what you really want to be doing, it can make you cringe at the question, “So what do you do?”
Every time I’ve been in-between shows, that question has practically destroyed me. And when I say I was in between shows, my longest period was 9 months. So I’m not talking about a few weeks.
I felt like a complete fraud introducing myself as a Graphic Designer for Television, when it had been so long since I had actually done it, and I had no idea if another job was ever going to come my way.
I cried so many times, wondering if I was ever going to get where I wanted to be.
Maybe you can relate. I hear these conversations all over LA:
“So what do you do?”
--“Well, I’m a waiter, but I really want to be an actor.”
--“Um, well, I work at a production company, but I’m also a writer.”
It’s like an identity crisis. Only worse, because there is so much embarrassment that goes with it.
I was so sick of that question, that it made me feel so much gratitude for where I am now. Twenty-seven TV shows later, I freaking love answering that question. It’s a really good feeling, especially knowing what it took to get here.
But I completely understand what it’s like to feel trapped by your day job. You moved to LA for a dream, a dream you know you’d kick butt at if someone freaking hired you. But real life keeps creeping in. Like bills and rent.
Taking on a day job is part of our survival. We’re “adulting” and whatnot, and it sucks, but we do whatever we need to do to stay in Los Angeles.
And that includes taking on a “day job."
A job that we don’t have a passion for.
A job that doesn’t make us jump out of bed every day with excitement.
A job that doesn’t even pay us what we feel like we should be making at this point in our lives.
But when we are strapped for cash, and survival mode kicks in, we just do it.
The problem is that it can steer us off our path without even realizing it.
Let me ask you a question that is probably 10x worse than, “So what do you do?”
(Don’t throw rocks at me, I swear I’m going somewhere with this!)
How long have you been at your day job?
I know that’s a really tough question to answer. Maybe you’ve been in your day job for a year. Maybe you’ve been in it for 5 years. No matter the length, it always feels too long.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
You moved to LA to pursue a dream and that dream just hasn’t happened the way you want.
But it’s a catch-22.
Because while you need the day job to support you until you make the dream job happen full time, it’s often your day job that kills your dream job.
And you may not even realize it.
The thing is, you mean well. You’re busting your butt to stay afloat and keep yourself in Los Angeles. You do what you think is right, you’re doing whatever you can to support yourself. You try not to let the fear of your financial situation consume you. You take on jobs that help you breathe again.
Throughout that entire process, though, you become trapped—trapped in a life that isn’t your dream. It’s like you’ve been chained down, handcuffed to this day job.
But guess what? You are the one who has the keys.
Your life in Los Angeles—whatever that looks like—is 100% created by you. And it can look however you want it to look. And it can feel however you want it to feel.
You are the Director/Writer/Producer/Show Runner of your life.
Up until now, you’ve let someone else write your story.
A story of, “But, Erica, what do you want me to do? I have to pay my rent, and this is the only way.”
But that’s just a story. A tale of fiction. A script that needs a rewrite.
I remember when my coach first told me that my own story was fiction. My initial reaction was, "Are you crazy?! This is real. This is my life. You think I want it this way??"
I was mad and felt insulted.
But after I had an ugly cry session and calmed down, my coach went on to explain how I could change my story. And that was the most empowering thing I had ever heard.
You can change your story, and if you want to save your dream from being abandoned on the side of the road, changing your story should become your top priority.
Let’s break this down. Here are common examples of how your day job can kill your dream job (figure out which one you relate to, it may be all of them):
- Your job is during the day, literally blocking you from taking auditions, meetings, interviews, etc.
- You get comfortable in your day job and used to the schedule, so you don’t feel the fire to push out of your comfort zone to make your dream job happen
- You get comfortable in your day job and seriously consider promotions (i.e. committing more to the day job)
- You find jobs that are still industry-related, so you can convince yourself that it’s going to help you in the long run
- The lack of passion and creativity used in your day job sucks you dry and your excitement for your dream job slowly fades
- The longer you’re in the day job, the more you question your worth, your talent, and your ability to succeed, which, in turn, affects how you pursue your dream (which I’ll elaborate on in an upcoming post)
Here’s the thing: there is no roadmap for pursuing an entertainment industry dream. It’s not like pursuing a regular 9-5 job where you find listings online, apply to the listing, submit your resume, get an interview, and land the job. We don’t have a roadmap like that. In fact, we have no roadmap at all. (That's why I've created one in my program The Inner Circle With Erica because it's about time we had one!)
With no roadmap, you've done the best you can with the knowledge you have. You've done whatever you had to do to pay your bills. You do whatever you have to do to figure out how on earth to achieve your dream career.
And along that path, there may be casualties. Dreams left on the side of the road, no longer being pursued.
So it’s totally understandable to get stuck in a day job.
But the damage may be worse than you realize.
Another question: (Don’t worry, this one isn’t so brutal.)
Do you still want your dream?
This is where you have to dig deep. This is where you have to be super honest with yourself.
Do you still want your dream?
Because I promise you, it’s out there waiting for you.
Your dream is achievable, and it’s ready when you are. Your current situation does not define your future.
All it takes is a few tweaks. (And you can even download my freebie "Get Out Of Your Day Job Plan" and start making those tweaks NOW!)
I know it can feel scary and uncomfortable to think about changing anything.
But remember when you took that big leap and moved to Los Angeles? You are capable of so much more than you realize.
Here are the 7 questions that you should ask yourself to get more clarity around your day job:
- Is my day job blocking me from pursuing my dream the way it needs to be pursued?
- Am I too comfortable in my day job?
- Have I stopped trying as hard to pursue my dream because of the comfort my day job provides?
- Do I think about being promoted in my day job?
- Am I convincing myself that my day job relates to my dream job so I don’t feel so bad about deciding to take it?
- Has my passion and excitement for my dream faded?
- Do I fear that it’s been so long, that I’ll probably never make it at this point?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, it’s time to make a change.
Because you DO deserve your dream and it’s NOT TOO LATE.
What kind of changes can you make, to help get you back on track to making your dream career happen?
You can change your day job, or change your mindset (I walk you through both options in the Get Out Of Your Day Job Plan freebie that you can grab right here).
The greatest thing about RIGHT NOW is that there are so many ways to generate stable income. Your current day job is not the only way.
We often tell ourselves stories about why we need the specific day job that we have.
Whether that story is “there are no other jobs,” or “no one else will hire me,” or “I’m not qualified to do anything else,” it’s all a story that we cling to for dear life.
The more we identify with that story, the more we seek out situations and experiences to prove ourselves right.
But these stories aren’t true. They are only true in your mind.
And the worst story of all: “My dream is never going to happen.”
It’s time to change these stories.
It’s time to embrace why you moved to Los Angeles.
It’s time to reignite belief in your dream, and belief in yourself.
The way to do that, is to make that dream your priority.
You know when there is a guy or girl that you really, really like, and you suddenly find yourself rearranging your schedule just to make time to see them?
That’s what you have to do with your dream.
You have to rearrange your life so that everything supports your ability to go after your dream. After all, it is something you really, really like, too, isn’t it?
Grab the key and release those chains. You’ve got this more than you realize.
If your job is getting in the way of your dreams, here are some job ideas that I call “no excuse jobs” (because they allow you to still pursue your dream, no excuses):
- Drive for lyft/uber
- Write a book, sell it on amazon
- Affiliate marketing online
- Freelance work on Upwork.com (or fiverr if you can up the price)
- Serving, Bartending
If your day job does allow you to pursue your dream, then it's time to create a rock-solid mindset.
What new story can you write about your dreams?
I would start with something like this:
“Achieving my dream in Los Angeles happens easily and effortlessly. Every action step I take brings me closer to my goal, and I feel excited every day to be working as a _________________. I am worthy and talented and completely capable of achieving my goal.”
Your old story is history.
Remember, you are the Director/Writer/Producer/Show Runner of your own life.
Do you want to observe your life as it happens?
Or do you want to create the life of your dreams?
The choice is yours.
All the power is in YOUR hands.
And it starts with belief in yourself. If you’re looking for a sign to tell you that you’re still meant for your dreams, This. Is. it.
You are still meant for your dreams.
And you can totally do this.