Oh, the heresy! I can almost hear you thinking. But, before you go all ‘life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness’ on me, lay your torch and a pitchfork down, relax, take a deep breath and let us discuss this subject objectively.
Now, let’s start by making this clear: I’m not advocating that anyone should stay at a sweatshop run by an abusive and psychopathic tyrant, surrounded by mentally and emotionally damaged colleagues. That’s definitely not the intention. Nevertheless, I’ve always believed that, at least in those first formative and all-important years of your creative career, you should not be focusing so much on happiness. You should be focusing on experience.
And this is exactly what I mean.
Accept the fact that you have to pay your dues. Everybody does. You are the newbie, the latest arrival, the junior, the graduate, the rookie. Others will come after you but, at the moment, you’re it. Accept it. Open your ears, open your mind and learn as much as you can from people with more experience, which is, essentially, everybody in your workplace.
See your job as a ‘real’ education. Again, stop focusing on happiness and start thinking about experience.
Familiarise yourself with the realities of the industry. If you think that your job is bad because of tight deadlines, long hours and demanding clients, then, you’re up for a rough awakening. Those challenges are part and parcel of any creative industry and are not bound to disappear when you change jobs.
Take plenty of advice from people you respect. Share your views on your current job with those you admire and get a second opinion. If your job still sucks after that, quit. It’s not worth risking your mental health over a pay cheque.
Understand that work life is full of ups and downs. Take it in your stride and don’t despair. Let the fun be in the chasing of your dreams.
Workplaces are in a constant state of fluctuation. Things change rapidly and rather unexpectedly in the creative industries, and what’s here today may not be here tomorrow. If you stick to it and stay, there will be more chances that you will reap the rewards professionally when the next wave of changes hits.
Build your portfolio. That should remain your focus and first priority, at all times, if not the main reason you went into the job in the first place. If your job is not giving you enough portfolio pieces to be proud of or enough free time after hours to develop your own, well, this may present a problem.
Studies have proved beyond dispute that employed people enjoy significantly better mental health than the unemployed.
After all, work is where most of us spend much of our waking hours.
So, if not for you, do it for what will prove your best asset in the long, windy road of your creative career: your head.
Illustration: Oslo Davis – The Jacky Winter Group.
From desktop magazine.