This past weekend was my 30th birthday, something that seems like it would never happen when you are a child. It’s amazing how fast time goes by once you are done with school. So now seems like as good as time as ever to write a brief retrospective on some of the biggest things I feel I have learned over the course of my life so far.
This one may sound easy but is often the hardest for people. I recall being in figure drawing classes in college and some students would be afraid to start drawing so my professor would walk over to there area and draw a mark on their paper. He would tell them “Now your paper isn’t perfect any more”.
In everything you do, you are not going to be an expert, you are not going to be perfect. The point of starting something is to get your work or idea out there and get feedback or validation of it to improve upon it. If you wait until everything is perfect before unveiling it, it will never get released. This is because as you work on it, you find more imperfections in your work and if you constantly go back and revise and revise, you can see the loop you fall into and you are shorting yourself the satisfaction of having something out in the world.
There is a saying “It’s only a mistake if you don’t learn from it”. You have to be able to see the positive in negative results. So go get your project started, go practice what you want to be good at, just start. Chances are, you will learn something even if things go south, which will leave you better prepared for your next venture!
Invest in Yourself… and Others
This is something I learned during the recession while I was reshaping my career path. At the time, I had spent all of my career doing sports animation, which I really enjoyed doing. Due to circumstances I couldn’t control, I had to shift gears a bit. During the time I did full-time freelance work, I decided to invest my own money into software and other things I wanted to learn to get better. I recall a time where I spent more money on a piece of software than what I was getting paid for a job.
I was looking long term and decided that this was a direction I wanted to go so I spent the extra money to get there. No one was going to pay for me to learn this piece of software, no one was going to buy the software for me. If you are unwilling to invest in yourself, others won’t invest in you.
While this is going to sound a bit contradictory considering the above statement, you need to invest in others. True story, when I was freelancing I was struggling to find a full-time studio position. I knew a full-time studio position is what I needed because I had a hard time turning off when I was freelancing. When I wasn’t animating I was networking and sending emails and reels out. I simply did not have the structure to have “off” hours. I had personal projects I wanted to work on and other things to do like travel.
I couldn’t get a studio to really give me a chance, granted this was still during the recession and budgets were cut and places were laying people off. I was able to find a small studio at the time and they took a chance on giving me a couple projects so we could see how each other worked. The studio and myself each invested in each other and the result is that we have been working together for almost 2 years now. Sometimes you have to give someone the chance to step up, they might surprise you.
Leave Things Better Than You Found Them
This phrase was plastered on the wall of the art studio I went to school in as a freshman. While I didn’t stay at the school, it was a phrase that applies to so much more than simply a room that students would sometimes leave a mess, it applies to everything.
The current job you have, will most likely not be your last. Where you live, the community you live in, might not be your last either. The planet we live on, the people we live with and interact with, should all be left better than you found them.
We have all worked with a person or perhaps were that person, who thought “When I leave, this place will fall apart”. How often does that actually happen? Almost never. The competitive society we live in somewhat promotes this mentality. The same goes for relationship break-ups, wanting to prove the other person was wrong and they can’t do better.
Instead of these mentalities, we should be helping each other succeed and setting people up to succeed through our movements in life.
What things have you learned in your life so far that you want to share?