Do you feel like you are falling behind compared to some of your performing peers? Do you feel that you have plenty learn, but aren’t sure where to focus your energies next? It might make you feel better to know that lots of other actors and artists feel exactly the same, but that knowledge alone won’t help you become a better performer.
When you feel like you’re cornered in terms of growth and improvement, one of the best things you can do is stop and take stock of where you currently are. Self-evaluation is something most performers do on the daily already. What if we harness that often-negative energy and use it to help you grow in a positive way?
Self-evaluation is exactly what it sounds like: a judgement of your current skills and standing. Performers do this all the time. Any time you beat yourself up post-audition, you’re engaging in a form of self-evaluation. However, this sort of evaluation is typically exceedingly negative, and such harsh reactions to your own work can seriously stunt your growth. A cycle of negative self-evaluation will make a performer less confident and more wary to take risks. That doesn’t exactly prepare one for significant growth and artistic success.
Let’s narrow our definition of healthy self-evaluation, then. Positive, informative self-evaluation still assesses current skills, and does so with a realistic, critical eye; it also involves reflecting on past work and taking pride in your growth. In order to make the evaluation useful, rather than simply a judgement for the sake of judgement, let’s also look ahead. A positive self-evaluation will also include considerations for future goals, and thoughts on how one can reach them.
Negative Self-Evaluation: An evaluation of your own work and abilities that is…
- Overwhelmingly judgmental
- Overly negative and critical, to the point of emotional injury
- Not constructive– provides no insight on growth
Positive Self-Evaluation: An evaluation of your own work and abilities that…
- Recognizes previous successes and personal strengths while acknowledging that there’s always room for improvement
- Is realistic and critical, but not condemning or soul-crushing
- Looks ahead to future goals, providing a pathway for achievement
Engaging in Informative Self-Evaluation
In order to get the most out of your self-evaluation, you need to recognize that your abilities are complex and multifaceted– therefore, evaluation will require looking at your work from a variety of angles.
Here are some examples of questions you might ask yourself to evaluate your current standings:
- What am I currently good at? Where am I showing significant growth?
- How do I feel in relation to the performers around me?
- What do I feel limits me in auditions?
- Are physical limitation such as lack of cardiorespiratory stamina or muscle strength stopping me from performing my best?
- On a scale of 1-10, how would I rate my ability to read and understand music?
- Do l frequently feel like I don’t understand what others are saying in discussions about singing, dancing, acting, or performing as a whole?
- What elements do I love in others’ performances that I wish I could capture in my own?
- Through what means have I learned and improved? Do I typically self-teach, take lessons, or learn “on the job” during rehearsals? Which of these work for me, and which do I think I should pursue more often?
- What have others told me they enjoyed about my performances?
- What has tipped the scales in my favor at previous auditions?
- Do I feel successful in auditions? What in an audition makes me feel uncomfortable or insecure?
- What has been frustrating me about my performances?
- What has worked well for me in previous performances?
- What constructive feedback have others given me on my performances or abilities? Has any particular piece of feedback come up again and again, or from multiple people?
- Do I have any trusted friends that would be willing to give constructive feedback? Better yet, trusted directors/teachers?
- What methods might I try to improve my skills? Do I know of any resources I could take advantage of, such as books, podcasts, or classes?
- What didn’t I like about the last time I performed? Can I do something to fix what went wrong?
- Think of a dream role. What (that you can control and improve) would potentially inhibit me from performing this role?
- Consider an upcoming audition for which I am anxious to do well. What might help me do your best in this audition?
Answer any and all questions you feel might be useful for you. As an example, here’s my own analysis of my abilities. You could also use this as a template and “fill in the blanks” to start your own evaluation.
I feel most confident in my singing and acting abilities, but I know I still have plenty to learn. My dancing ability definitely holds me back, and my lack of physical stamina, strength, and flexibility contribute to that problem.
Taking voice lessons in the past has been very beneficial for me, and though I want to take lessons again in the near future, I’m also currently learning a lot through reading books and listening to podcasts. A dance class would probably help me with dancing, though engaging in regular exercise would also be of benefit. In order to improve flexibility, kinesthetic awareness, and practice useful skills such as supported breathing and stabilizing the body, I also feel physical activities focused on cultivating a mind-body connection such as yoga could be equally helpful. An acting class is less attainable to me locally, but I have some books on the subject I can read. Further, while I’d like to learn far more about acting, my acting ability has served me well in both auditions and performances, so it probably doesn’t need to be my chief focus currently. Of course, I also cultivate all of these skills in rehearsal.
I have noticed and been admonished for my poor posture on stage more than once, and resolving this issue could help strengthen my singing. I also feel like I have a tendency to sing way too loud in an attempt to sing powerfully. This could be damaging in the long-term, and I would like to return to voice lessons to get active feedback as I try to resolve this while maintaining vocal power. Voice lessons would also probably be best to help me master breath support, which I feel I should know more about.
This analysis took only a few minutes to write and provides me with a variety of clear ideas for where I can turn next. The more in-depth and direct you can be with yourself, the better.
Once you’ve evaluated where you currently stand and where you’d like to improve, your next step is to stick with your evaluation and use it to work on growth in a practical, efficient way.
For example, I noted feeling bad about my dancing ability more than once, and feeling relatively confident in my acting ability. The most efficient next step for me would likely involve getting into a dance class or regular exercise regimen rather than seeking acting training. Though of course I could pursue these concurrently and growth is never so black-and-white as “I must do this and only this thing next to improve,” focusing on where I need to improve the most will likely serve me best. If you’re only as strong as your weakest link, you’ll want to strengthen that weakest link as much as possible.
It might help to think of it in different terms. A basketball player might be really good at shooting baskets, but perform poorly on the court because of lacking stamina. They’d benefit most from taking up some cardio training, rather than continuing to drill shots they can already sink.
It’s good to identify where you need to grow! While working on things you don’t feel particularly good at can be difficult, it will be worth it. Remind yourself that growth is a process, and where others are in their process does not have any impact on you. Move at your own pace, and be critical without being mean to yourself! By efficiently focusing your energy based on positive self-evaluation, you can take significant strides in any direction you choose.