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When Pushing Yourself Backfires

It’s a new year and for comics, the common goal is to often do better than what they did the year prior. Pushing yourself is a key element of succeeding in this business. How do you expect to succeed if you aren’t giving it your all?

However, what I notice (even for myself) is that many comics confuse the concept of doing better with doing more. While gaining success inherently means you will be doing more, there is a fine line where you can potentially waste your time. I have even seen a few comics discuss their realization that doing more and thinking they had to do everything this past year actually did them more of a disservice than it did good. So how exactly do we keep pushing ourselves and not feel like we are going nowhere and burning out?

Here’s what I have learned.

Losing “balance” is actually really easy.

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that a balanced approach to anything is always the best way. Balance, especially in career, means you plan things out and strategize so there is as little room for error as possible. For comics, it’s not only about fine-tuning your craft but also seeking out opportunities to show your talent and networking so those opportunities are plentiful.

It’s really easy to get into the groove of doing everything: I’ll do EVERY open mic and bringer show in the city. I HAVE to get up on stage every night. I have to go to every comedy event. Sound familiar? That was me in my first year of comedy and I got into such a groove of doing everything that within seven months I had completely burned myself out. And the most annoying thing was I hadn’t actually become that much better of a comic; I had fooled myself into thinking I had because I was approaching it at such an extreme. This type of approach will always lead to burnout, it’s only a matter of time. Some reach it faster than others.

You have to emphasize strategy for your goals. After my initial burnout, it occurred to me that I had thrown a lot of what I had learned from Jim Mendrinos out the window. He said, “when you do something, have a plan.” Whether it’s an open mic, networking, or the biggest show of your life, you always have to strategize what you want to achieve at that moment. It’s important to keep those goals specific and if you’re like me “getting better” was just too vague of a goal.

Look at it more in a way of specific elements about your current craft, presence on the scene, etc. that you want to change.

For your craft, it may be you want to become more animated, become a better storyteller, and so forth. For your presence on the scene, it can be something like getting passed. Whatever it is, it requires strategy. Just doing a free-for-all approach with no focus will get you an unfocused result or no result at all. As comics, we have to know when what we’re doing is actually benefiting us in the long run. Yes, there are times you have to alter your approach to meet the needs of your current career goals or projects. You may have to kick open mics into overdrive to prepare for an important show, etc.

Just know how to get back to the balance so you keep yourself sane because trying to maintain an extreme for too long will only turn on itself and make you resentful.

Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!

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