What you need to know to keep your career alive as a mother in the performing arts

by Alexandra Lopez
What you need to know to keep your career alive as a mother in the performing arts. Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

12 years ago, I read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and it transformed my life in incredible ways. It reframed my relationship with time and gave me a simple framework for continuing to develop my craft, even when I felt like time wasn’t on my side……. hello motherhood!

Blog in 30 seconds

*Making a commitment to our growth as artists. Even 5 minutes a day in this season of motherhood, yields incredible results.
*Staying present, where you are today, helps you honour your efforts no matter how small they seem.
*Breaking the habit of saying “I don’t have time” can transform the way you view your life.

This book makes three major and stunning points:

  1. Something that is easy to do is also easy not to do
  2. Small meaningful decisions compounded over time make you successful
  3. It’s never too late to start – plant, cultivate and harvest analogy

So why is this so important and how to does it apply to us performing mothers?

Simply, our time has never mattered so much!

We are on a daily basis juggling the demands of raising little tackers and simultaneously expecting ourselves to have the drive, energy and passion it takes to have a career in the performing arts.

I believe time is our most precious commodity. I didn’t realise how true this statement was until I became a mother.

Time.

I hear people say all the time (no pun intended) “I would if I had more TIME” or “I don’t have the TIME to do that”.

It’s a bad habit and one I too was guilty of saying. But like all unhelpful habits, if we truly want to live a life that nourishes us WHILE we are in the trenches of motherhood and beyond, we need to challenge this thought pattern.

It is safe to say that until I understood The Slight Edge philosophies, I felt pretty bamboozled on the daily. I was in an unhelpful way of working due to perfectionism. Whilst I know this is common among performers, let’s be honest, it’s not a nice way to live. It is, for the most part very crippling. It gives way to things like procrastination and paralysis around decision making, that can leave you feeling overwhelmed and “stuck”.

The Slight Edge helped me understand that I wasn’t getting anywhere fast being a perfectionist. And I certainly wasn’t going to have career longevity in the performing arts, as the anxiety that held perfectionisms hand, left me so tired and drained. In just taking action, we gain power. One of the greatest gift’s motherhood has given me is a healthy relationship with “done is better than not done” Sitting around making something perfect means it doesn’t get done!

So where am I going with this?

Let me demonstrate the power of the slight edge as my recipe for living:

  1. Something that is easy to do is also easy not to do. I am going to use the example of voice training here. I train my voice daily. Things like tongue twisters, humming and singing. Before my girls came along, I did this for 20 mins a day in the car either to or from my day job – easy to do for me as I was already in the car with a 30 min drive and I chose to forego the radio or music to train. Easy to do in theory, I had the time. Easy not to do, because it took effort and dedication and there were definitely days where I just didn’t feel like it! Bigger picture disclosure-I credit this daily training to my success as a voice artist. Which brings me to….
  2. Small meaningful decisions compounded over time make you successful. The daily commitment to my voice is 100% the key to my success. The process has been a long one. I have been in the performing arts for almost two decades and I can hand on heart say that EVERY small effort I have made has been a critical part of the “one foot in front of the other” approach that has got me to where I am today. However, when my children were born, I no longer had the “luxury” of twenty minutes a day to train my voice. I did however have five! Five minutes a day equates to 30 hours of voice training a year. That’s thirty hours of investment in my career, for just five minutes a day. Some days I even smash out twenty-five!! I also use children’s books as part of my training repertoire now. Getting the girls involved makes my heart happy plus they have a laugh at my crazy tongue twisters. It would have been easy to say I didn’t have the time, but look at how much I would have missed out on both personally and professionally.
  3. It’s never too late to start – plant, cultivate and harvest analogy. I deeply love this point: The slight edge is not found in the past, or in the future, it is here in the present. What I do today matters. I’ve found this to be truly liberating…if yesterday was a shocker and I didn’t kick the goals I was hoping to, I know I can find the slight edge by just hitting the reset button and making a small start today. No beating myself up, just five minutes of action to get me back on track.

My wish for you is that you realise that 5mins is good enough in this season of life we find ourselves in.

I hope that by honouring your commitment to your work you realise just how amazing us performing mothers are!!

We are doing the very important work of raising our babies and nurturing a career that is our hearts work.

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