Yeah there are a lot of times we’ve got to do things we just don’t want to do.
I don’t like doing dishes, I don’t like doing laundry, I don’t like going over finances and doing taxes.
Yet, they have to be done.
I know the ideal is to only do things that we want to do. But life is also not a happiness cloud made of cotton candy.
I’m not sure where the idea of living a life devoid of pain came from.
I know for myself, pursuing happiness in my work came from being exposed to people who absolutely hated their work, but they continued to show up and do it for a paycheck.
That idea of showing up day in and day out in an environment that I loathed, spending a majority of my time and life in those circumstances was not attractive to me at all.
But that doesn’t mean that we get to avoid things that we don’t want to do.
Sometimes we’ve got to put our nose to the grindstone and get the work done.
I can think of two times in particular where I had to grow and make the right choice.
The first was in high school at the age of 14.
I grew up in the 1980’s and saw the birth of Must Watch TV on Thursday nights on NBC. It was one of television’s highest ratest nights with the line up of: “The Cosby Show”, “Family Ties”,”Cheers” and “Night Court”.
For me it was a staple of my week, something I really looked forward to.
By the time I hit freshman year at Loyola High School, I realized I was neck deep in some serious school work along with sports and activities. My schedule was getting crammed and I was coming to a crossroads in my life.
“You can do it all!” “Multi-task!” “Push yourself to the limit!” “You can sleep when you’re dead!”
A lot of phrases that we hear in the 21st century. These ideas of always being on the go, go, go. Push yourself to the extreme at all costs: sleep, friends, family, health. It will all be worth it.
The truth is, though there may be good intentions behind these phrases, they are not healthy and they are not right.
The result of continual pushing and driving our engines in the red is burnout. And when we hit burnout, there’s a lot to clean up afterwards.
It’s hard to resist, we have major figures in the world that seem to be able to do it all. J.J. Abrams and James Franco are two people in the entertainment industry that come to mind. They seem to be able to do it all: directing, writing, producing, acting.
But I also know that I can’t compare the messy back stage of my life to someone else’s front stage. I have no idea what their personal lives are like. I have no idea what people or teams they have in place that handle all of their work or issues so they can be involved in so many different projects. And I certainly don’t have personal insight into the struggles that they have to endure on a daily basis. Continue reading “Burnout: You Can’t Do it All”
Months had gone by and I still had no regular work. The bank account dwindling dangerously low. I was consumed with anxiety on a daily (if not hourly basis). Forward motion had come to a stop. I was doing anything, but addressing the issue, hoping beyond hope that some magical big break would come my way.
I would try to distract myself by taking the family out to eat or going to a movie, but would find my mind drifting during our outings.
We’re running out of money? What am I going to do? What kind of job can I get that will pay our expenses?
Then one day, while I was out, I had a very calm and gentle thought.
You need to go back to Disney
I was fortunate when I had left working for Disney. I had exited with grace and had not burned any bridges on my way out the door.
I started reaching out to a couple of friends who were co-workers and managers and asked if I might have a chance to return. They said it looked hopeful.
One afternoon I made a phone call to the head of casting at Disneyland. She was incredibly gracious and got me a part-time position in the park.
I was nervous coming back.
I had a lot of emotions returning to Disney. One was a feeling of failure.
I had left thinking that I was just moving on to bigger and better things. Now, I feared I would be met by fellow actors who would look at me disapprovingly and say sarcastically “Well, look who’s back!”
I did get some of that.
But mostly I was received with open arms by a lot of people at work. More than anything else, I felt some hope. I was given the chance to use my abilities and skills again.
I put my nose to the grindstone and took any work that came my way. Including those television extra jobs that I didn’t enjoy so much.
I was in a place where I couldn’t be picky about what I was doing. I was just grateful for anything that I could do.
Within a few months I started getting more work than I had ever had as an actor.
I was cast in more shows at the Park than before, and soon I was cast in more television commercial work than I had ever booked previously.
Something had broken through. Or what I should say, was that something had been broken… my pride.