I think the hardest thing about working in an industry you’re really passionate about is the eventual feeling of “Is this worth it?” that creeps into your mind. If you’re like me, you’re a 110% kind of person. All in or all out, there is no in between.
I’m happy and proud to be doing something I love for a living. I love the sense of accomplishment my work provides, and being surrounded by so many talented people with big ideas. It’s fantastic and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But sometimes, it still gets tough like anything else.
And while I wouldn’t change a thing, sometimes I think, “Can I keep going?”
I guess some people call that burnout, but that’s not really what it is. To me, true burnout is when you are literally so done that you cannot be any more done. You know it’s time to walk away, find a new path, burn bridges to the ground, whatever. You want out of where you are.
But that’s not what I feel sometimes at all. Like I said, I wouldn’t change a thing. So it’s not burnout, it’s just a temporary case of a lack of fucks to give.
Once your supply of fucks to give is restored, all is well.
Until then you might be a cranky ass bitch like me, muttering, sighing exasperatedly, living solely off caffeine and more than likely, also spending a lot of time inside your own head wondering if you’re finally cracking up and needing a stay in the local loony bin.
I recently went through a period like this for a few weeks. I think I am on the tail end of that now. I would estimate my current give-a-fuck-o-meter at about 50% operating capacity.
This period of questioning why I do what I do, and experiencing immense self-doubt along with a high level of stress, led me to think a lot about how to overcome that. I knew I would, that this was a temporary thing. But how could I hurry up the process and get my give-a-fuck-o-meter back to 100%?
I didn’t know for sure, so I tried some stuff.
First, I tried just being cranky. And drinking. And eating a lot of excellent fast food. And pushing through the late nights and endless tasks. This strategy is still working, but it’s taken a hell of a toll on my body and frankly, I’d like to wear a bikini sometime this decade. So next idea please.
Next, I tried to stop thinking about it and to distance myself from my stress. So, avoidance, I guess. I decided to not let it bother me and to focus on spending more time with family and friends and otherwise enjoying my personal life. That didn’t really work.
I even tried writing shit like this post to get my brain in the game. All I got out of that was drunk.
Lastly, I tried the thing that finally worked. I talked to other humans.
Say what? Yeah, talking to humans. Real original idea there.
But it worked. And I don’t mean just any humans, I mean the super talented ones I work with and other industry peeps. I didn’t mention anything about feeling like a walking bag of unconfident mush, I just talked to them about their work. What were they working on right now? What did they think of the latest ad world gossip? Read anything good lately? Seen any good cat videos lately? The usual.
I didn’t intend to use conversation with these people as a way to fix my general feeling of meh. It just did. Because I realized, halfway through one colleague talking about how she fought hard for one of her ideas to make it to the client and then the client ended up loving it and choosing her idea above the others, that the passion my team has can also fuel mine.
I was so happy to hear of her big win, and of the client’s happiness too, that it made me remember that awesome thrilling feeling when you do good work and that works gets out there in the world. That’s the whole point of what we do as agency folk, isn’t it? To not only produce good work the client likes but to also make that work awesome and special and to really make that idea alive. That’s what I love the most.
Remembering the feeling of the thing I love most, that I hadn’t experienced much of lately, gave me a renewed sense of purpose to move forward with.
I wouldn’t say I am quite there yet… I am hovering somewhere between 75 – 100% still. But I know I’m on the road back to a full charge and that I’ll get there soon.
Sometimes it just takes a casual talk with a colleague to reignite that WHY within you. Why you do what you do, why you love(d) it, why you will continue to love it, and why it will all end up being okay.
If you truly love what you do, your passion will always come back after a little bit of time and a little bit of digging for it again. Have you ever experienced this in a job before? How did you solve it?
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