Recently, I received this message as a comment on the entry A plan to break into voice-over:
I can not tell you how thankful I am for your blog, and your selfless giving of voice over artistry information.
I am at turning point in my life and realize I’ve been working 20 years in a industry I have NO PASSION FOR! In thinking, “how do I change this?”, I remembered the excitement I felt when asked to record automated attendant messages twice in my career. I’ve always been told I have a good voice and can’t wait to become a part of the community.
I know a lot of hard work will be involved but one day I hope to be successful and pass on my knowledge just as you.
You are wonderful,
While I truly appreciate and am grateful for Veronica’s praise about my blog, I want to talk about her paragraph about passion. The key is not to find a job and industry that you are passionate about, but to create a LIFE that you are passionate about!
The last sentence was written with apologies to my eighth grade English teacher Mrs. Ellington, who would hate to see me ending the sentence with a preposition. She made us memorize a list of prepositions, and I credit her with my strong knowledge of and passion for English grammar.
There’s that word again — PASSION.
When people feel that something is missing in their life, they often say they want to feel passionate about something. Rather than doing the self-reflection necessary to understand what is missing in their life and make adjustments, I have observed that most people hurriedly make 1 or — even worse — a combination of the 4 life-changing decisions below. I’ve also included some of the common thought patterns that may lead people to the decision.
1) Have a baby
- “A baby would bring us closer.”
- “A baby would always love me.”
- “I might get a reality TV show if I have enough kids.” (If you don’t believe me on this point, do you remember the Octo-mom, or have you counted the number of shows about huge families on the TLC channel?)
2) Change residences
- “I’d be happy if only I had more space.”
- “I’m tired of this neighborhood.”
3) Change jobs
- “I have no passion for my job or industry.”
- “I’d be happy if only I made more money.”
4) Change relationship (get married or divorced, find a new love interest)
- “I want to be in love again.”
- “I’d be happy if someone paid attention to me.”
- “You don’t bring me flowers. You don’t sing me love songs.”
Unfortunately, making any of those decisions without FIRST analyzing the cause of your feelings of discontentment will not solve the problem. Instead, the change will only serve to complicate the underlying issue, which often can be summed up as a matter of self-love.
If I were having a conversation with Veronica, I’d ask her these questions:
- What was it about recording the phone messages that you liked?
- Why did it matter to you?
- Did you like knowing you were helping people?
- Did you feel important or special to be asked to record the messages?
- Did you get a buzz knowing that people would be hearing your voice when they called the number?
Veronica’s answers to these questions could be very illuminating in ways that she wouldn’t expect.
In her landmark books Wishcraft: How To Get What You Really Want and I Could Do Anything if I Only Knew What It Was, Barbara Sher wrote about finding your touchstone, which is the emotional core of the goal. When thinking about the things you like to do, you can find your touchstones by asking yourself thoughtful, probing questions like those above for Veronica. When you know WHY something is important to you, you make much better choices.
From Veronica’s message, it seems obvious that she has done some serious thinking and decided to embark on a new career in voiceover. Since I don’t know Veronica, I can only speculate about her answers and motivation to become a voice talent in the hope that it gives you food for thought about finding your own touchstones and designing the life you want.
For instance, I wonder if Veronica has a touchstone of recognition. If so, changing jobs to become a voice talent may not be the most satisfying way to bring more recognition into her life. In fact, if she knew that recognition was the thing that she felt was missing in her life, she might figure out ways to get it in the very job for which she says she has no passion.
Her touchstone might have something to do with becoming wealthy. If that’s the case, she will feel discouraged to read an article by fellow voice talent J. S. Gilbert’s. His thoughtful, in-depth analysis of the annual salary review in Parade magazine notes that a voice talent profiled in the review had the lowest income of any of the respondents. He also mentions that his article may extinguish the flames of passion.
Of course, Veronica may truly have a touchstone that involves creative expression through her voice — something more meaningful than simply being told she has a nice voice. Every person who contacts me about getting into voiceover tells me that exact same thing! I’m not picking on Veronica here. I’m just pointing out that the people who write to me probably have nice eyes, nice fingernails, and nice knee caps, but, since no one has complimented those things, the prospective voice talent don’t try to turn them into career choices.
Without further exploration on Veronica’s part, she wouldn’t know whether she should become a voiceover talent, a puppeteer, singer, telemarketer, lawyer, or a political advocate. These choices could have the same touchstone but would require wildly different actions.
I think we all yearn for some way for creative expression, and the lack of it may be at the root of some of the dissatisfaction with our lives. I’ve read that Adolf Hitler dreamed of being an artist but couldn’t get into art school. Can you imagine how much better the world would be if he had only followed his dream?
Where other people paint a canvas using brushes, I do it with words, either by giving voice to words written by others or putting my voice into words for others to read. The right kind of creative expression for each person would be that thing they want to do for its own intrinsic enjoyment. Maybe it becomes a career choice, but then again, maybe it doesn’t.
Through her self-assessment, Veronica might realize that she needs the cheers or applause from an audience. Voiceover is usually a solitary pursuit, which again indicates it wouldn’t be a good career choice. She might even realize that she doesn’t enjoy reading!
On the other hand, she could be passionate about using her voice to make a difference for others, but she doesn’t want to take on all of the myriad responsibilities associated with running a business as a voice talent. In that case, Veronica might prefer to volunteer to read for the blind or the children’s story hour at the library.
You can have passion for a lot of things, but you don’t have to make a career from them. You don’t have to make any money from them at all. As an example, I use my passion for English grammar when writing these blog entries and my private journals.
I’m also passionate about the Eiffel Tower. I have a web cam app that lets me view it any time I want to see it. I just spent my birthday week in Paris, and we stayed in an amazing apartment a block away from the Tower. It was so close that I felt like I could touch it out the open window.
While there, I found a way to combine my passions for writing and fine pens with my passion for the Eiffel Tower — collecting antique inkwells featuring the Eiffel Tower. I’ve started researching pictures on-line and creating a compendium of available styles along with selling prices.
by collecting antique souvenir inkwells from Paris featuring the Eiffel Tower.
In this one, the Tower tilts back to reveal the ink reservoir underneath.
Will I ever make any money from this new hobby? Probably not, but it’s not my intent to make money from it. My intent is to honor my touchstones of romance and beauty by bringing those attributes into my life (and consequently, these antique inkwells into my display cases!) as much as possible.
The good news is that each time you follow your passion in one area, the enthusiasm, excitement, and joy you feel from your new discoveries will overflow into every other area of your life. As a result of simply researching what it takes to work in voiceover, Veronica has already increased the level of positive energy — or passion — in her life.
If, after spending time in contemplation and figuring out that a voiceover career truly gratifies your touchstones, don’t be too hasty to quit your current job. Since security is one of my touchstones, you can trust me when I encourage you to think of your current job as a subsidy to your art.
Every moment has meaning, so whatever you’re doing now will only help you in the years to come. By analyzing your touchstones, you can figure out what’s missing in your life and take the action needed to develop a rich, full, wonderful life that you are PASSIONATE about!
I was reminded of this article tonight because Drew and I watched “The Graduate”. It seems to me that the 3 main characters exhibited the very behavior that I described.
At the beginning of the movie, Benjamin is trying to figure out what to do with his life — how to find his purpose and give his life meaning. In one scene, Mrs. Robinson confesses to Benjamin that she was studying art in college but had to give up her dreams due to her unplanned pregnancy. We don’t much about Elaine except that she says something at the end to her mother to indicate that Elaine doesn’t want to be like her.
Rather than spending time to reflect on what’s important to them and finding their way for creative expression, these characters chose to make these life-changing decisions:
— Mrs. Robinson had a baby and got married instead of pursuing her art. Her unhappiness led her to another relationship decision to have the affair with Benjamin, which caused her marriage to end in divorce.
— Benjamin decided to have the affair with Mrs. Robinson rather than figure out his life. He obviously wanted to be a scuba diver, but his parents expected him to follow his dad’s footsteps. He then made another relationship change to turn his affection to Elaine. He moved to be near her at Berkeley. He became obsessed by Elaine and stole her away from her husband at the altar.
— We didn’t really learn what Elaine liked. Maybe she didn’t know herself. Why else would she tell 2 men that “maybe” she’d marry them…..and then marry one, only to leave him at the altar for another?
In the final scene when Benjamin and Elaine are on the bus, they don’t look at each other. They don’t even look happy. Instead, they are filled with the Sounds of Silence:
“…And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence….
Silence like a cancer grows….”