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Living Life Along The Detour: Finding Purpose In The Present When Your Dreams Lack Clarity

Pursuing a dream can be exhilarating, especially when you have a good idea of where you want to be, what you need to do in order to get there, and how it will affect your life (and those around you). But what do you do when there’s no clarity? What do you do when no one understands your vision that just doesn’t seem to be working out, at least not in the current moment?

As an actor, I’ve found the journey to be incredibly unpredictable, especially the financial aspect (what people call “making a living”). If you’ve been reading along the past several months, you know the story, so I won’t bore you. For those of you who don’t know my story, I have a brief snapshot in my “About” page.

Well, recently I had another setback added to the list. With the state of North Carolina deciding to remove the current film tax incentive structure most of the productions in the state are moving to states with a better tax incentive structure, including Georgia and Louisiana. That means very few auditions. For a guy (with a wife) on a budget, this makes it complicated. Ah, there’s that word. Complicated. I like saying that in an British accent…Try it right now…It’s amazing, isn’t it?

So, I went with the obvious option: I got a job selling high-end fashion. The logical job for an actor with no money, a wardrobe full of Target men’s clothes, and a lack of interest for the TV show Project Runway…Right? Strange as it may sound, it’s been a good transition and it’s helping us move forward while we sort out the next steps in the journey.

With my professional-grade experience in “lacking clarity”, here are a few things I’m learning when dreams (or life) takes a detour:

  1. Find something enjoyable about where you are NOW. Don’t wait for the unattainable future that exists only in your dreams; start enjoying the experiences of your daily life in the here-and-now. For me, I’m finding little things to be enjoyable, whether that is learning about the life of Giorgio Armani, getting a cup of coffee on my breaks, a weeknight movie with my wife, or writing a new blog post…Or did you think I was getting mad rich when all 15 of you read each week?
  2. Invest in the relationships in your life. If you’re married, spend time investing in your spouse and stop waiting for a future when you can buy them everything; start enjoying the little moments, even when you have next-to-nothing in material possessions. If you’re single, start investing in friendships and family. None of us are promised tomorrow.
  3. Devote yourself to your current job. This is a tough one for me, especially when the career I want is completely unrelated to the jobs I’ve held. But it pays off every time. I’ve learned that when you commit your attention to your current job you gain influence, you build references, you often benefit financially, and you build better relationships with co-workers where there is genuine respect.
  4. The most important one: seek after God’s heart. If all of my “failures” as an actor have done anything for me, it’s that they’ve kept me seeking after God (even when I’ve been angry with Him) and I’ve not become self-sufficient. If you find yourself on a detour in life, this is a great opportunity to get real with God and get away from your false security in status, success, or wealth. Those things never cared about you to begin with.

– AV