Have you ever hit the reset button on your life? The kind where everything you know changes: your job, your home, your community. I think these major resets are happening more than we give them credit for, and yet somehow they always seems to catch us off guard.
Resets can happen at any time. Your partner gets an amazing job opportunity that takes you out of state. Or perhaps your company has decided to go through a rebranding process that you don’t exactly agree with. So what leads us to make such drastic choices, and how can we stay prepared for them?
- You’ve stalled out, or plateaued, in your current trajectory.
Sometimes I wonder if people think about what their “end of life” plan is for a company. When do you know that you’ve gotten everything you possibly can get out of a current position? Ideally, the company that you work for is growing at the same rate that you are, and that you are increasingly challenged and being compensated for accordingly. But what if that isn’t the case? What if your growth plan is slower than what your company is projecting and a gap between what you can provide and what your company needs starts to form? Or conversely, what if you’re growing too fast and are finding that as you master skills, new challenges aren’t being presented yet?
2. You’ve become disillusioned or misaligned with the higher directives of your company.
When looking at our industry, I’m shocked by how much of this unrest I’ve seen from frustrated employees. But then again, maybe it’s not so hard to explain. To be an artist means to take joy in the process of creating something. For us, it means telling stories or crafting emotions through sound. So it’s no wonder that we become invested in our work and that we care deeply about how audiences are perceiving us. What we see as important isn’t always shared by studio executives, and sometimes, this can dishearten us.
3. You were forced out by an unforeseen studio or project change.
Sadly, this catches many people by surprise. In 2017 alone, I can name at least a half a dozen companies that either closed their doors completely or laid off a good portion of the workforce. But this is the industry we work in. The “bottom line” is a cruel place, driven by our capability to entertain an often unseen and highly unpredictable group of people we call our “audience.” We takes risks that sometimes pay off but other times leaves us without resources or a way forward.
4. Your commitments outside your career cause you to make a decision bigger than yourself.
Yes, we are passionate about the work we do. But we also have bigger priorities. We have immediate family, partners we love, and children we support. Sometimes we need a change because it benefits them more so than it does us.
5. A job opportunity was presented to you that you simply cannot pass up.
Let’s say you’re plugging along at your job, happily working away when BAM! – someone calls you up and says, ‘Hey listen, there’s this big thing in Canada that I think you’re really going to be interested in.’ And then all of a sudden you’re on a plane to Montreal, shaking hands with studio execs wondering how in the hell you’re going to transition your life up here.
I don’t know about you, but in my career, I’ve come across every single one of these situations in at least some capacity. What’s important to remember is that when they arise, we are prompted for change. Constant preparation and keeping a “heads up,” will allow us to handle it with ease. So how do we stay nimble, ready to combat change at a moments notice?
- Keep exploring.
I think the most important thing to remember is this: don’t get complacent in your job. Don’t think to yourself, ‘I’ve made it now. I’m good.’ Circumstances can change. Always be on the lookout for what’s new and what people are gravitating toward. Play video games, watch movies, read industry websites… anything.
- Always stay connected.
Our industry is a small one. Chances are good that the people you meet will pop up time and time again. Stay in contact, if you can. You never know when you’ll need to hire your next contributor, or when you yourself will need a job.
- Be a visible part of the industry.
This one is a bit tough I think, because sometimes it goes against our inherent nature or because we believe that we don’t have anything valuable to share with the community. But being visible on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, etc can actually elevate our group as a whole (when contributed to in an honest and tasteful way).
- Give back to the community.
Giving back to your community can mean becoming a mentor, giving a talk, or even writing for Designing Sound (small plug!). We are not isolated professionals in what we do. We constantly collaborate, exchange feedback, and share knowledge.
I recently hit the reset button myself (and if you’re wondering it was because of reason #4). My fiance and I picked up and moved from San Francisco to Orange County for a fantastic opportunity for him. In the process, however, everything changed. We have a new home, I’m on the hunt for new job opportunities, and most of my friends are back in the Bay Area.
If you look at the list of reasons why we might hit the reset button on our lives, many of them call to mind feelings of hardship or difficult choices. However, what you don’t see is what positive can come from it. Hitting reset in your life means wiping your slate clean. It means getting rid of everything that weighed you down and giving yourself the chance to start fresh.
Now that I’m down in Orange County I have the opportunity to pursue new skills that I wasn’t able to develop in San Francisco. I also get to meet a host of fantastic new audio people; the people that will quickly turn into my community here (or so I hope). I’m excited as I look to the future, ready to tackle this new chapter.
So hitting the reset button can be scary. Sometimes we’re forced into it and sometimes we get the courage to take the leap ourselves. But if you find yourself in this situation, let me be the first to tell you that it can also be incredibly rewarding.
Happy Sunday, everyone!