It’s a not a dream job if it’s a nightmare to maintain
When I started out my career in animation, I would often work 9am to 3am; even on weekends. The long hours were fuelled by my passion and eagerness to learn, develop and to please. I wasn’t alone of course, everyone was working ridiculous hours and, despite the stress of it all, there would be a sense of camaraderie that pushed us through.
The animation industry has always been known to be quite brutal with unforgiving deadlines.
But it was like a pressure cooker, where we were constantly rushing to meet the next impossible deadline. The relentless, unsustainable, level of demand and stress stripped the enjoyment out of the job.
Eventually, my health suffered, and I gained 30 pounds in three years of what had become a severely sedentary lifestyle. There was very little time for cooking, so it was a case of eating on the hoof and takeaways! I was still living with my parents then, treating the house more like a hotel than a home.
As the stress mounted up, my general well-being and health declined. After three years, I eventually realised that the toll my job was taking on my health, as well as my personal and family life, just wasn’t worth it.
At that time, mental health and stress weren’t seen as empathetically by employers as they are today… so it was up to me to do something to change my situation.
Despite my love of animation and want to get ahead, I needed a different lifestyle and a career change. So I used my skills to develop into motion graphics, which eventually enabled me to become self-employed and to take back control of my work and family life, without feeling that I had compromised on my career aspirations.
By then, I was married and a mum of two young children. Juggling motherhood and work brought new stresses too but my priorities shifted.
It has never been more important to be mindful of a healthy work-life balance.
Understanding what triggers stress and the long-term effects it has both mentally and physically has been key to me achieving a more prosperous and rewarding life. Whilst my parents instilled in me a good work ethic, it should never come at the expense of missing out on my children’s childhood.
Last year, I made the decision to return to full-time employment, but only for the right agency where flexibility and work-life balance are as important as the work it does.
I believe that our working environment plays such a crucial role in this… providing a place where we can be ourselves, have open conversations and share our thoughts and concerns, and where we are listened to and respected.
I look back at those early years as a crucial learning curve, as a young adult trying to build a career. My advice to others starting on this journey is not to let interesting but stressful projects and camaraderie be the sinkholes of your personal well-being… it’s not a dream job if it’s a nightmare to maintain.
Jane is a motion designer who focuses on producing beautiful video animations of varying styles. She joined Gosling in 2022 and also provides lovely cakes as well as humorous quips.