At 5 years old I saw a magician on TV, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. 28 years later, I’m living the dream. I’ve traveled the world entertaining audiences of all kinds & sizes, consulted for TV shows, and in general lived the life entertainers dream of.
Turns out, however, a lifetime of creating illusions on stage doesn’t mean you’re immune from believing things that aren’t true.
My Personal Illusion
I had told myself, for the longest time, that I’m a full time entertainer making a great living, but it wasn’t necessarily true. Being an independent entertainer is expensive. All the travel, advertising, marketing, insurance, and every other business expense comes straight out of my own pocket.
With most of the money coming in already being spoken for, it left very little in the budget for marketing. Consequently, fewer people knew about the show, which means it gets booked less and less frequently. It’s a downward spiral that got worse at a geometric progression.
For the past decade I’ve been making enough doing shows that I could (mostly) pay my bills, but there were times where checks were months late, and I’d have to figure out how to manage until they showed up in the mail. (Usually that meant borrowing money from other entertainer friends who understood my predicament, but there are only so many times you want to be that guy asking for a loan.)
And it’s not just money troubles. Problems crept up in every other area of my life, too. I couldn’t visit my family as much as I wanted. It put strain on my relationships. I had to depend on others for what are my own responsibilities. I was unable to take advantage of genuine opportunities that presented themselves.
When anyone makes decisions based on what they want to be true rather than what is true, they’re living in a fantasy land that’s as far from real as anything else they can dream up. Instead, if take an honest look at where they are, they can figure out what’s the best thing to do from RIGHT HERE.
A while ago I realized what was at the heart of my money problems. It wasn’t that people weren’t booking the show. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the money to get a decent promo video made. It wasn’t that X, Y, or Z happened.
The problem was I was more invested in maintaining the narrative that I’m a full time entertainer, than I was allowing myself to own up to the reality of the situation, which was I was knee deep in financial problems.
Once I allowed myself to take an honest evaluation of my situation, I was free to make choices that were actually effective and addressed true causes.
The best thing I did for myself was to get a real job. The benefits were numerous: structure, a paycheck, health coverage, socializing with great people instead of days by myself, and a whole lot more around the fringes.
Fortunately I found a design position at a company that’s a great fit for me. Now, I could live off my paycheck, and then use show money to reinvest in the show business.
What this meant
With the immediate pressure of financial disaster gone, I learned to enjoy performing again. My relationships improved. I’m seeing my family more often. I’m not missing major milestones with friends because that check I was expecting 3 weeks ago still hasn’t come in.
Further, it meant I’m not thinking about ways to leverage this site into paid content as quickly. I’m not sacrificing quality in order to monetize it faster than makes sense. While podcast episodes and articles might be on a slower release schedule, it means the overall quality can stay top notch.
Ever since I’ve been taking full responsibility for my choices & making better decisions, I’ve realized that it wasn’t the shows & travel that was causing me stress: it was my holding onto a narrative that was not in alignment with reality (and the resulting situations based on decisions made from an inaccurate viewpoint) that was causing problems.
Share Your Stories!
What are the stories you tell yourself that are causing you to take actions that aren’t in your own best interest? What are the areas you need to improve before your own situation gets better? I’d love to hear about your own experience with the problems created when you’re living in fantasy land instead of reality.