The amount and the diversity of feedback was unexpected. Many people left comments or wrote emails with their very personal stories. The video triggered discussions on twitter and entries on other blogs. Apparently, I had hit a nerve. Many people came forward and talked about similar - sometimes worse - periods in their lives. That made me wonder why so few people talk about this obviously common problem. Is it unprofessional? Looking back, I would have welcomed someone telling me to take it easy and stop making my life miserable.
Anyways, there are three reasons why I write this follow up:
- I want to clarify a few things things that I failed to get across.
- I want say thank you and please stop worrying about me.
- I want to tell you how I came out "wiser" on the other side.
Let's get started...
At the time I recorded the video I was in a very emotional state. I had finally come to a point in my life where I had to face the fact that I no longer could do all the things dear to me. Even after my first surgery I stubbornly ignored what had happened and fell back into my same old rut. When I barely escaped the second - more severe - surgery, only then did I realize that I had to change my way of balancing work and life fundamentally. I made long walks and thought about how to go on, what sacrifices to make and how to handle pressure in the future. It was during one of those walks when I spontaneously felt the urge to talk everything off my chest. So I recorded the video, not only to free my mind a bit, but also to reason my long absence from the motion design community. All of this is to say: Because of the spontaneous and emotional nature of that recording, I made an incomplete, thus probably mistakable statement. At least that's how I feel now, with a clear(er) head and half a year later. So, let me clarify:
I do not blame the business in general for being broken. Although one might argue it is, that should not be the main statement of my video. Also, I feel like I don't have the right to complain, because I've always been and still am in a lucky position to have a very forthcoming boss (High Five, Alex!) and super nice clients. I'm lucky and I don't take that for granted.
I do blame myself for putting so much pressure on myself. Of course, most jobs usually have tight deadlines and overtime is usually inevitable, but there was no one forcing me to go that extreme, especially at times when my family needed me more than ever. I love my job and wanted to do an awesome project. It was my own stupid decision to stress myself to the state of health issues. I tried to do everything 100% as long as I could: family, work, even hobbies. That is simply not possible and I had to learn that lesson the hard way, like many others before me. But I learned. Which leads me to the second item on my list.
I am happy and healthy now, so please stop worrying. To this day I still receive benevolent replies to my video from people wishing me a fast recovery. While I really appreciate the kindness, I would like everyone to know that I'm perfectly fine now. So thank you very much. Especially thanks for being honest by telling me your own stories. It helped me a lot to talk to people who had suffered similar situations and to learn how they managed to get out of them.
And that's the last item on my list. I want to tell you how I roll now and what I changed to get a better grip of my life again. I don't claim to have reached an ethereal peace of mind, I'm still working on the floating-inches-above-the-ground part, but I feel I'm going in the right direction. The following is all very obvious and you probably have heard it a thousand times, but it took me quite a while to accept its importance and even longer to put it in practice.
Work at work.
I've sold my home iMac. When Noah hadn't been born, the first thing I did when I got home was sit in front of my iMac and basically do the same stuff that I do at the office. Today, my only home computing device is an iPad. I might eventually get a laptop, but for now I don't miss a thing. Noah is into the iPad, as well.
Do less. Focus.
I used to do so many personal projects and couldn't let go off anything. I said "yes" to almost everyone asking me for a favor. Combine that with being a perfectionist and insanity is near. Today I try to focus on the things I really want to do. At the moment, that is being with my family, of course, next to my main job. Band activity with friends has been reduced a bit, but is still an important outlet for me. motioneers.net has been put on hold for while and c4dtools.net is primarily a maintenance job. I still keep up with everything that is going on in the mograph community via Twitter and I'm looking forward to becoming a more active contributor again.
Relax. It's just a job.
I'm not saying don't take your work seriously or with less motivation. Not at all. But, for me, I have learned that it is totally possible to not stress yourself out when a deadline is approaching, for instance. I still work intensely and more than eight hours a day, but I don't have headaches anymore, when I've had an unproductive day and I know there's still so much more to do. Have confidence in your skills and keep a cool head. Pressure can be turned into something good. After all, the best work often gets done when the time is running out.
Alright, let's leave it at that. I don't want to come across like a wise-guy or something, this is just what helped me in my specific situation. Anyways, I hereby consider this topic to be summed up and concluded. As said, lesson learned so let's move on!
Happy holidays and have a great start in 2014,