Six months of bliss, working in my dream job, certain I had finally broken in to the animation industry. But the job ended with the project. And fortunately that wasn’t the end of my story. What did I do next?
I powered up on unemployment! Anyone who has been “unemployed” for a month or more is familiar with the difficulties. When the going got tough, I would google “How to Survive Unemployment” and found plenty of articles. But I quickly realized I’d rather THRIVE than just SURVIVE. I’ve always marveled as the metaphor of pressure turning coal into diamonds, but it get’s abstract when you want to power-up yourself and become a diamond. I’m not made of coal. And rocks merely survive, plants merely flourish, animals follow instinct. What do human’s do? How can be become dazzling as diamonds? Hopefully we realize that unemployment (or any tough period) isn’t the end of the story, but a beginning of what could be one of the best periods of our life.
40+ Hours a Week
If we want a job, finding a job is now our full-time job. This is common knowledge. But for me the power up came when I contacted studio recruiters, found our what they want me to be, and worked 40 hours a week pushing myself to meet their expectations. In my case, this meant meeting deadlines and pushing each new animation to a higher level than the last.
That’s my new favorite word, and a true power-up. For me, the more collaboration the better, so I found several people who dreamed of vocal acting and recorded with them. I consulted with other artists and even people from other disciplines while building projects. I asked for opinions and feedback on my work and relished the opportunity to improve. Working with people is the most fulfilling! It’s the thing I miss most about working in a studio. So any time I can collaborate, I relish it. [Update : Though brief, I've had the fortunate opportunity to work as a generalist with Maxwell Products on some animated marketing videos, with Farr's Fresh on some character designs & poses, with my great friend Chris Oatley at his awesome online academy, etc. These experiences have renewed my conviction that collaboration is the way to go!]
Make a Progression Plan
Success comes from making goals and reaching them – common knowledge again. So why aren’t we all millionaires and Olympians? We could all reach that level of greatness simply by discovering their footsteps, adapting their plan to our situation, finding mentors, and following through. Practice will make “perfect” if our goal is to improve with each repetition. But here’s the WARNING: We will likely doubt our abilities to reach greatness. As great artists before me, I more I stick through those times of “can I really do this?” the more I meet people’s enthusiasm toward my work. Planning has equipped me to explore continually greater heights. Download my Free Power-Up Worksheet to begin your own progression plan.
Re-energize For Productivity
Time management transformed my abilities not only at Rhythm & Hues, but also in the many months since. I am so passionate on the subject that I chose it as my upcoming guest post on paperwingspodcast.com. But if we aren’t careful, time management may become wasteful. When planning our time, we can choose two types of activities : those that take energy and those that re-energize. Mixing in re-energizers can maximize productivity. For example, for a few months I sketched about 3000 facial expression from Mark Simon’s book as a way to pass the time playblasting my animation. Because animation takes a long time to perfect, the quick, successful (or even non-successful) sketches gave me a boost of accomplishment and made my facial animation better to boot!
Eating Healthy, Meditation (prayer/pondering/whatever-you-call-it), sunshine and exercise are also great energizers. Oh and I love to read – that’s one of my favorite energizers when I have time. But we have to be careful. While many people consider internet surfing to be a re-energizer, it sucks my energy away. So I personally highly limit the amount of time I spend on the internet. And because of this, I have more energy and more successes. In short, some activities might appear to re-energize when they actually do the opposite.
The End Of My Story
Though I have not yet reached the end, and employment will be a new beginning, I am having the time of my life. My demo reel is night-and-day different, I have climbed personal mountains, and because of these things I am confident I will be so much more valuable to the next studio. My new digital picture book has excited collaborators every step of the way and is positioned to sell successfully. And hopefully, my words help someone else out there, hoping to power-up during unemployment or any difficult period of life. I can’t wait to hear about YOUR successes!
It’s possible for the middle of the story to be just as amazing as the beginning and end, even if unemployment is in the title. It all depends on how we write.
Download the Power-Up Worksheet
Please share your success stories in the comments