How do I prioritize my first month in LA?

first hollywood job, moving to los angeles, Q&A

I get asked some awful questions.

For example: “I have no experience, so my resume sucks. Can you look at it and tell me how to fix it?”

In other words:

THEM: Please give me the easy way out, I don’t want to work

My response:

ME: No

Occasionally, I get asked great questions. Shannon W sent in three great ones, and I’ve answered them below. 

Do you have a great, burning question? Leave it in the comments and I’ll answer them in another post.

1) I’m trying to create a rough plan of action steps for me to do in the first month arrive in LA. Through experience, do you have suggestions of the amount of time I should put away to doing certain tasks (finding a job, networking, producing my own work) and questions to ask myself in terms of how to prioritize?

I currently work for Ramit Sethi, who wrote the bestseller I Will Teach You to be Rich.

I followed him for years before joining his team. One of his most influential concepts in the early years is called the Tripod of Stability.

My interpretation: At any point in life, there are few BIG things in your life you try to get ultra-stable in order to be ultra-aggressive in other areas.

This looks different for everyone. A few examples might be:

  • Your job, your home, your relationships
  • Your car, you apartment, your finances
  • Your side business, your family, your health & fitness

You’re moving to Los Angeles, starting your career, and — I’m assuming — opening yourself up to some financial risk.

Your priority is reestablishing your Tripod of Stability ASAP.

Here’s what I would recommend you prioritize. Again this is a very personal decision so your mileage will vary:

  1. Savings. Be liquid. Cash equals options. You can make the move with $5,000, if you have a high risk tolerance. (You can calculate how much you should save using the Moving to LA calculator.)
  2. Living. Your housing. Sort out your living situation. Sleeping in your car at a Wal-Mart isn’t restful.
  3. A job. Any job. It doesn’t need to be exactly what you want. Just start getting paid. I call this a “money job” — take it purely for the money. If you get a job in your industry right off the bat, great. However, don’t let finding the “perfect” job slow down your momentum.

Prioritize these three things. Outside of them, carve out time for working on your craft, meeting new people, searching for a job you love.

2) What are some things I should avoid doing in the first 6 months that I’m here (either because of cost or time i.e.: partying, hiking, touring Hollywood, etc.)

If you’ve working on your priorities, then by all means do as much of all of this as possible.

Do all the touristy things you can your first year in LA, because there’s a time limit on visiting the Hollywood Walk of Fame or a Hollywood bus tour and it starts ticking the day you learn how to pronounce “Sepulveda” correctly.

Catch an Upright Citizen’s Brigade show. Do a pseudo-hike at Runyon Canyon. Ride the mechanical bull at Saddle Ranch in Hollywood and then never go back.

Honestly, I did it the wrong way. When I first moved to LA, I got so wrapped up in “trying to make it” ASAP, I didn’t spend enough time enjoying the city. There’s a cost-benefit relationship to every decision (an hour spent surfing in Venice is 2-3 hours you could have spent writing) and I worried too much about the cost.

What should you avoid? Don’t treat this as anything less than a 5-year game. Five years is the short game. Prioritize the 3 things above, but remember the race is long.

3) How do you find ways to remind yourself that “you can do it” and the tough times are just temporary?

The hardest job I ever had was when I was 14. That’s when I started waiting tables. It was at a Chinese restaurant and I barely spoke Chinese. We added our checks by hand, bussed our own tables, and if there were no customers, we were doing side work (making sauces, cleaning tables, folding napkins, etc.)

I dreaded going in. I started hating the weekends, and when I started working more in the summer, I started hating summer vacation, too.

When things got difficult in Los Angeles, I would think about those days.

Back then, I didn’t have a choice about the work. My parents told me to do it.

But moving to LA and pursuing this career was 100% my decision — and that’s no different for you.

You’re not moving to LA because you need the money. You’re not moving because you’re cornered and there are no other options. There are easier ways to make a living.

It’s liberating to know any difficulty you face is self-imposed. The universe did not do this to you. You did this to you. You chose this for you, which means you can walk away at any time. You can literally do anything else in the world.

At a high-level, that’s how I manage difficult times: Adversity didn’t happen to me. I chose adversity.

At a more tactical level, see answers to numbers one and two. Prioritize, then enjoy it.


Don’t forget to leave a great question in the comments if you’d like me to answer it in another post.

Photo Credit: Peter Tandlund

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