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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Pursuing Your Dreams

Dear Sue: I have been out of college for about a little over a year and managed to land a good full-time job. My real ambition is to act, and I always assumed I would work on the side to support myself while pursuing my dream.

Iíve realized that the structure of a 9 to 5 job with little vacation time does not lend itself to the kind of flexibility I'm finding I need. I am reluctant to work overtime at my job because it takes away from the only time I have to spend working toward my long-term career goals. In addition, I am preparing to audition for acting agents and managers, and when I am finally offered auditions I am sure they will come up on short notice, and be during daytime (and working) hours, often without much notice.

I need to earn a certain amount of money and benefits in order to support myself as I try to work at making my dreams come true. I need optimum flexibility while being economically realistic. Do you have any suggestions for me or ideas about what type of job has the most flexibility?

- J.R.

Sue Says: It hasnít taken you long to figure out how challenging it can be to pursue and fulfill your personal goals and dreams. As you have discovered, following (and achieving) a dream requires planning, sacrifice and tremendous patience. Without a realistic assessment of what it will take, many people give up on themselves and their dreams when the going gets tough.

I am glad you have not. If your real love is acting, you should pursue it, but you must remain realistic. Acting is not a profession that offers permanent stability. Even when you get a job, although it will keep you busy for awhile, you need to think about what you will do when the project is over. Are you prepared for permanent instability?

Some jobs are more flexible than others. However, any full-time job requires full-time work. Even if the hours you work can vary, you still risk being called for an audition at a time when you are scheduled to work. Sales people tend to have more flexibility than most, and people who are self-employed can call their own hours.

No matter what type of job you find or how much flexibility it offers, you will still have commitments to honor and may find they interfere with your ability to come and go as you please. Even if you are self employed, you may not always be free when a call comes to you.

Are you compromising yourself by working in the job you currently have? How much will you be able to enjoy or benefit from what you are doing if you are just doing enough to get by? If your heart is not in it, it will be obvious to others and who knows what impact it could have down the road?
Your best bet is to look for work that supports your interests and career goals or to work for someone who understands your predicament and okay with you coming and going or leaving on a moments notice. You will be lucky if you find someone to work for who supports your needs, but itís possible that person (and job) is out there.

While there are many obstacles to overcome, it does not mean you cannot achieve your dreams. Perhaps all you need to do is refine your plan. For example, you might decide to work at the job you have for the next several years in order to gain financial stability. Rather than looking for and accepting acting jobs now, you could devote your free time to studying, making contacts, and perfecting your acting skills.

With careful planning, you can work toward making it financially feasible for you to work a more flexible job a few years from now, and then begin to devote more time to your acting. There is no right or wrong approach; but there is a realistic one.

From what youíve told me, you need the money and the benefits you have right now. Unless you get the green light from your current employer to pursue auditions and acting, you may not be able to do exactly what you want at this time.

You seem logical and realistic; combine that with some creativity, passion and desire and I have no doubt you will see your dreams come true. Good luck.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at asksue@suemorem.com or visit her web site at http://www.suemorem.com

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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