Find a job you love.
I have spent the last 3 years working as a Soundman/Producer/Editor for a video production company. Much to the annoyance of some of my friends, I actually love my job.
There are probably even some of you reading this now who will also find that statement a little smug. It really isn’t meant to be. I’m just stating a fact. It hasn’t always been the case, either, which is why I feel I’ve earned the right to say it. It took me over a decade to get my life sorted out and to find my way in to something that was right for me. It seemed like a very long time coming, involved lots of hard work and more than a little good luck.
My employment journey has lead me down the winding country road of lowly paid customer service jobs, across the bridge of retail management and into what was ultimately the cul-de-sac of a career in banking.
An interesting voyage which also lead to me having a bag of frozen peas exploded in my face and an illegal immigrant lady squirting breast milk at me. I’ll explain that later.
But now I’m happy. Here’s how it happened and why I think anyone can change the direction of their life if they really want to.
So you didn’t get a degree? Big deal!
I won’t dwell on the details but 3 years after completing my A Levels and having returned for a failed one year stint at University (Multimedia Computing?! What was I thinking?) I decided I would have a go at something I enjoyed. So I spent about 18 months touring around the country singing and performing with a cover band, whilst keeping a few hours going at the supermarket I had been working at since college.
It was great fun while it lasted, we even played on a cruise ship for a while – ok, ok it was a booze cruiser that went between Portsmouth and St Malo in France and we only lasted 10 days – but that really is another story for another day. I wanted to get my own place and that meant settling down to a ‘real’ job for a while.
Frozen Food Attacks & Breast Milk – my career in Retail.
It was time to ditch my Rock n Roll credentials (ha!) and turn to the dark side of Retail Management. So I became a checkout manager and also had responsibility for the then new initiative of Home Shopping. Let’s be clear, I tried very hard but it wasn’t really my bag. You try being 22 and attempting to get a menopausal woman with anger management issues to calm down after you’ve told her she has to wait for another ten minutes until her tea break.
That wasn’t how I ended up with Birdseye vegetables rolling down my face though. That happened as a result of asking some lovely late night shoppers to make their way to the till as we were about to close. I asked nicely and they returned the favour by bursting a bag of frozen peas over my head.
The breast milk incident came as a result of helping to apprehend a shop-lifting Eastern European lady. A few security guards and myself went haring after the highly trained master thieves (3 women, with a push chair and a baby). When we caught up with them, one of them immediately started taking her clothes off until she was naked. The 2 security guards quickly released their grip on her from embarrassment and she ran off before being arrested a few minutes later by the local police (it was her bad luck that she ran past Starbucks where the officers were enjoying a Frappucino and a donut).
Meanwhile, my suspect tried a different tactic: exposing her lactating breasts and attempting to squirt milk at me. We somehow managed to bundle her into the security room at the store where she then proceeded to lift her dress and repeat the phrase:
“Me give you baby.”
I changed career shortly afterwards.
The Bank Job whilst I planned my Great Escape.
I decided to take a complete change of direction whilst I thought about where I really wanted to go with my life. That’s the best explanation I can give for deciding to train as a bank manager. Despite the bad press that they are currently receiving, my experience in retail banking wasn’t all bad. I met some great people and still keep in touch with some of them – usually when they get my number mixed up with that of The Samaritans. They’re having a tough time at the moment (I’m not talking about the multi-millionaire fatcats here, I mean ordinary folk just doing their job).
It wasn’t long after I started a career in Finance that I really started to think about pursuing a career in video. I have always had an interest in writing, editing and music and I had a close friend that had worked in video since leaving University, so I began probing him (with questions, gutter-mind).
Obviously, without experience or qualifications it was going to be an uphill struggle and for a long time I found it hard to maintain the faith in myself that I would be able to make it. I even met with a friend of my friend (now my good friend and colleague, Matt) with a view to helping him set up a new company, but at that time I had just become a Dad, and in truth I really wasn’t sure what I could add to his venture. That was the first lesson I learned: If you let doubts creep in, you will just give up and fail. Which at that time is exactly what happened.
Focus on doing what you love.
With each week that passed at the bank I knew that I was in the wrong job and that I would have to start making big changes if I was to turn things around. So I began to research, read and watch everything I could possibly find to do with Video Production. I knew that I had to turn theory in to practice so decided I would build a website and offer to produce music videos for local bands. I pushed against all of the nagging doubts and just went out and did it.
I began to learn how to edit and put shots together and I was starting to have a great time doing it. I suddenly found I had loads more energy and passion. It was about this time that fortune smiled upon me in that my working hours were changed and I had to work on Saturdays. On the face of it, this was bad news, but in reality it meant that I would gain a day off in the week. And how did I spend my day off? Relaxing and watching TV? No.
The guy that I had been unable to work with a couple of years before (Matt) offered me the chance to use that day working for him. This was an amazing opportunity that I grabbed with both hands. Here was a chance to get experience working for a video production company – to see how interviews were cut together, to learn professional software packages, to organise shoots and learn how to record sound with an SQN mixer.
Work hard – but on the right things.
However, don’t go thinking that this didn’t involve working hard. It did. I was working 6 days a week, as well as fitting in extra editing or accompanying Matt on shoots whenever I got the chance. I even went on shoots when I was on holiday from my main job. I worked hard, but it felt great because I was actually doing something, whereas before I just moped and hoped that something would just happen.
When I made a conscious decision to make changes and get off my backside and just go and do stuff, things did start to happen. Eventually my persistence and blind faith paid off. Matt reached a point in the business where he could offer me a full time job. It worked great for both of us: he had a trained member of staff and someone he knew could trust and I’d been able to learn the trade from the ground up whilst keeping a roof over my family.
I know I have been incredibly fortunate and I recognise that to a certain extent my ‘boat came in’ – however I still had to row out to meet it. Somebody took a big chance on me, but only because I had shown that I was willing to take a big chance on myself.
Well go on then – get on with it!
Whether you want to be a hair dresser or a trapeze artist, it won’t happen just by wondering about it. I hate to state the obvious, but you need to actually do things. Don’t look too far in to the future, trying to find potential barriers to your progress. Just take each day at a time and keep moving forward.
Stop moaning and make it happen. It’s never too late to change your life.
PS – Does anyone want to buy a Soap Box? Going cheap. I’ll even throw in a few overused cliches with it.
As always, I would love to hear your feedback. Please feel free to subscribe, follow me on Twitter or just get in touch for a chat.
Suze Muze has written a great post on 10 Signs That You Have Found Your True Passion
Check out where I work – www.mglmedia.tv