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    Posted November 4, 2011

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Learning for Life

By John Sovec, MA, LMFT

"You have to have a life to bring your best to the table as an actor" These words where surprisingly enough from my agent when I was talking to him about turning down a job because I was burned out and run down. Although his percentage as my agent was on the line as well, he emphasized how vital it was for actors to get out and live a full life as an important facet of being a fully realized performer.

As kids, we tend to be more open to the idea of learning just for the fun of learning but as adults the cues aren't as clear and we often lose our inspiration to learn new things amid various commitments and responsibilities that demand our attention and time. When we do make time to learn a new skill it is often related to career advancement with the learning seen as a means to an end, not an end in itself.

Perhaps, just like kids returning to school, we can find methods of inspiring our adult selves to learn something new in an area that interests us and brings us enjoyment, just for the sake of learning.

Some of the ways that we can inspire and motivate that learning process is to view learning as a constant process of refining, and polishing ourselves. Just as we eat well, exercise and get our rest, learning is a way to stimulate our minds and feed our spirits and keep us active and engaged in life.

It is easy to come up with reasons not to take a class, workshop, or online course including lack of time, money, confidence, or interest, and lack of information about opportunities to learn. But in reality, we all know these are just excuses.

If we can overcome our own internal resistance, entering into a learning environment can open the doors to making new friends, boosting self-esteem, cultivating hidden talents and discovering new aspects of ourselves.

Learning is an ongoing experience where we can commit to the growth of ourselves not just as actors but also as people. Seeking knowledge satisfies an inquiring mind and stimulates us to take risk and chances, giving us a welcome break from the routine of work and home that can become a source of resentment if we're not careful.

So take a chance and put some energy into learning something new. Seek out local colleges, community centers, online courses, books, yoga studios, meditation centers cooking classes. Ask friends about any cool courses that they are taking not directly related to acting. Use these classes to re-energize and invigorate yourself. Its' a good bet that these classes will open up your creative side and allow you to bring even more to the table for your next performance job.

Dare yourself to step outside your comfort zone and learn something new just for the fun of learning.

John Sovec, an Equity member for many years, is now a psychotherapist in Los Angeles. John works with artists to uncover their blocks to success and creativity in order to connect into a renewed sense of artistic discovery and passion.

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