Special thanks to Anne Ganguzza and Diana Birdsall for your motivation and support in starting a new accountability group!
There are times when you just want to be left alone. Like when you are brushing your teeth, concentrating on a golf swing, meditating, listening to good music, threading a needle (sewers will know what I'm talking about... ) or trying to write a blog post.
And then there are times when you welcome some help and/or encouragement; training for your first marathon, learning how to fish, baking that first loaf of bread, planting a vegetable garden or learning to play a new musical instrument.
When it comes to starting a new endeavor, whether for business or pleasure, there are often so many options and paths that you can go down. Everything looks shiny and new and you think about endless possibilities of what could be. You don't know where to really begin and find a focus, so you often end up in fits-and-starts. Trying something out for a while and then realizing that may not be bringing you the results you had envisioned. So, you put it aside and try something else that is related. Again, where is this path taking me? Am I any closer to my goal?
This is what I have found in pursing voice acting as a career. There are SO many options regarding what type of work I would like to do. SO many areas I could focus on, SO many companies to check out and professionals to connect with, SO many ways to approach my business and SO many wonderful people to help me; whether it's with coaching for performance, or learning how to use technical equipment and setting up my actual recording space or even setting up systems to track auditions and billing. SO much fun, but SO mind-boggling at times.
I attended a workshop earlier in the year presented by Anne Ganguzza, about goal setting and gratitude. There was a lot of great content and suggestions presented. There were also opportunities to share thoughts and feelings around this subject, which can be fun and exciting as a brand New Year is just starting; especially this year, as we are starting to emerge from the grips of Covid, with the lockdowns, restrictions and mandates. But it can be a little scary to plan ahead into the unknown and can also bring up feelings of sadness, remorse or regret regarding lost opportunities or thinking about things that we could have done better or differently, or the feelings about perhaps not being where we want to be on our journey at this point in time.
The concept of an accountability group came up in the workshop and I remembered the One Voice Conference that I had attended virtually last fall. One of the presentations focused on accountability groups. Diana Birdsall talked about a group she and others had started and shared about how beneficial it had been for all of them over the past few years that they had been together to connect for their weekly meet-ups. They all felt as if their association with each other had helped move their careers forward. I remember thinking at the time that I would like to be involved with something like that but based on the name recognition of the presenters, I assumed that it was probably better for people who were farther along in their careers.
But when the offer was made to receive a copy of the form they use to track their success for the week, I figured 'why not' and emailed my request to have one sent to me. I opened it, read it over and then filed it away on my computer.
So... knowing that I had this tool at my immediate disposal and seeing that a few folks on the goal-setting webinar seemed to perk up when the concept of an accountability group came up, I blurted out that I was curious if anyone would like to start a group with me and if so, to let me know through the chat. I was very surprised and happy when five of the participants contacted me with their email addresses. And so, just like that, our Accountability Group was formed.
We picked a day of the week and an upcoming date to start and after some tricky figuring, decided on a time that would work with three time zones across the US.
Our first meeting was just getting to know each other. Some of us have known each other for a couple of years, through various online VO meet-ups, but some were new faces and one couldn't attend. At that initial meeting we decided to meet once a month. I shared the form from the conference and a few filled it out in the days immediately following our meeting and sent it out for everyone to see.
I was blown away! I saw that all of them were addressing issues that I also encounter and right there in print were their goals for the upcoming month and beyond. In reading these, I realized that I have never sat down and written out my goals. For anything. Except for a to-do list on my calendar. I guess that is informal goal setting!
The night before our second meeting was to take place, I spent more than an hour filling up over two full sheets of paper, divided into the five categories of goals that Diana and her group had identified. It felt SO good to get all of that which usually is circulating around in my head at any given moment, down on paper for all, but especially me, to see. I actually felt a physical relief as I let out a long sigh and a big smile came across my face.
Our second meeting was quite different from our first. It started right away with lots of chatter and sharing of what all we had been doing since our last meeting. As we are all pursuing voice acting, we have that in common, but also on Diana's group's form is a section for well-being, and that is something that anyone, voice actor or not, can relate to.
We spent the next two hours listening to the successes from the past month and listing and talking over our goals for the upcoming month and beyond. We were even fortunate enough to have both Diana and Anne drop in to say hello and give us encouragement and to share some thoughts regarding setting up an accountability group, including the gentle 'push' to get us to agree to meet once a week. In the end, our group decided that twice a month was about the right commitment for us at this time. After all, as Diana pointed out, it's only 24 hours total out of the entire year. When she put it like that, it did seem like it was an easy commitment that we could make to each other.
And to ourselves.