Archive for training

The Same Old Question

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

Why don’t I make more money?

I ask myself this question every couple of years, and I always come up with the same reasonable answers:

  • My field, non-profit live theatre, doesn’t pay well financially. The personal rewards of doing good work in this field are huge, but there’s no money in it.
  • My family means a lot to me. Choosing to homeschool my daughter and live close to my mother has curtailed the time I can afford to spend at a high-paying job.
  • My husband has a good job, so my family isn’t suffering. In fact, I work hard to run a frugal household, so that we can live comfortably and save for retirement. I enjoy the challenge.

Those three answers are so strong, they ought to put an end to the question. But somehow, like a bad penny, it keeps turning up.

Why don’t I make more money?

I’ve decided to risk changing the question, rewording it in order to rethink it.  So here goes:

  • Do I really want to make more money?
  • What, specifically, would I do with a higher income?
  • How much more money would I like to make?
  • How could I make that amount?
  • Am I willing to make the sacrifices and get the training I might need to make that amount?
  • Do I give myself permission to start finding the answers to these questions?

I think you can guess that I’ve already given myself permission to start finding answers. I have a long way to go. But I’ve given myself one concrete, though completely arbitrary, answer to guide me, at least for the time being. I’ve decided that I would love to make $40,000 a year for at least five years. After that, who knows?

I don’t know where this search for answers will lead. But just reframing the question has opened my mind. There was implied self-loathing in the first question: why don’t I, the stupid, flighty, creative type, make more money? Why am I dependent on my husband’s salary?  Why have I squandered my intelligence and education in a low-paying career?  What’s wrong with me??

That line of questioning was getting me nowhere fast. I’m risking new questions, seeking new answers, and keeping a firm handle on my self-respect.

I won’t ask that same old question again.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. You can now read about her life and insights at her own blog here.

This post first appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog, a project, which has now concluded.

Risking a New Self-image

By Guest Blogger,  Carolyn Cook.

What felt like a tiny risk a month ago has grown into a major accomplishment.

Last month I wrote about deciding to be on time. I had to face some uncomfortable facts about myself, and I had to choose to change some behaviors. The risky part was admitting that my lateness wasn’t a charming personality trait: it was a bad habit, nothing more and nothing less.

For the last month, I’ve been putting gold stars on my calendar whenever I’m on time, and black marks whenever I’m late, even by a minute. The percentage of gold stars is growing, and they make my calendar look bright and triumphant, hanging on the back of my kitchen door. The black marks don’t depress me; they just remind me that I still have work to do.

So, if I can change this seemingly fixed aspect of my personality, what else can I change? Scary question. And the answer has come more quickly than I expected. I can stop seeking approval in my career, and start believing in myself, no matter what anyone else thinks of me.

The other day I was working with a director for the first time, and I caught myself thinking that she might not like my work. She might already be regretting her decision to cast me. After all, I have this flaw and that weakness. I’m not really the kind of actor she’s looking for.

And then it hit me: oh, I have this flaw and that weakness, and I assume that those are set in stone. I assume that they hold me back, and that people only work with me because they are willing to overlook those flaws.  But the flaws are part of me, and alas, there is nothing I can do about them. I must depend on the kindness of strangers if I am to advance in my career.

Really? What if those flaws are like my tendency to be late: bad habits, nothing more, nothing less? What if I can do something about them? What would happen if I did? Can I risk being perceived, and perceiving myself, in a new light?

I’ve already started seeking some training this month to improve in the areas where I believe I’m weak. I’m already seeing progress – frustratingly slow progress, but progress just the same. I’m already tempted to give up the struggle and fall back on my weakness.

But I’m really curious to know what will happen if I don’t.