The importance of career reflection and the #humblebrag
I guess I should start this with #humblebrag - because that is what this post is. This isn't an ego stroke. It's an exercise, and I think it's one we all need to do a bit more often.
Ever see a former co-worker update their promoted position on LinkedIn and say to yourself, "Why aren't I getting those offers?" Or see a photo on Instagram of someone holding an industry award with the hashtag #blessed and feel just a tad inferior? I know I do. I am never bitter or envious - I genuinely like seeing people succeed. The issue is inside me, and I think inside of a lot of people, where we fixate on the "haven't"s and ignore our "have"s.
I was having an excessive, depressingly strong dose of the "what I haven't dones" while driving the other day and I remembered a newspaper article where I was interviewed at my high school graduation. The reporter asked me what my brightest hope for the future was. I replied "work at ILM (Industrial Light & Magic)" For a brief second I realized "Wait. I did that." Then I thought about all the other things I wanted to do in life when I was 18. My main list would have been something like this:
-Go to film school
-Work at ILM
-Work on a Star Wars movie
-Work on a movie set
-Direct a movie
-Win an Academy Award
-Do some acting
-Get a credit in a movie / TV show/ video game / book / comic book
-Sculpt an action figure
-Start a company
Funny enough I have done most of those things, too.
I went to film school. I worked at ILM for 3 years. I did a little work on Rogue One. I was on set for the Nick Cage film The Sorcerer's Apprentice. I never directed a movie, but I did direct an animated short. I didn't individually win an academy award, but I was part of an Academy Award winning team (Best VFX, Pirates of the Caribbean 2). I acted in a pair of history channel shows as an extra, was in a handful of commercials, and was part of an ILM project as Steven Colbert's body double for The Colbert Report Green Screen Challenge. I have a handful of movie credits, I think a TV credit (for the acting), a "visual effects" credit in the EA game Tiger Woods 2003, a contributor credit in a few pop culture related books, and a special thanks credit in a dozen or so issues of the Sonic The Hedgehog comic. I sculpted an action figure of Sterling Archer that sold 1500 pieces as convention exclusives..... Still haven't started that company yet though.
So, I guess this is a humble brag. But sometimes that is a good thing. Pat yourself on the back once in a while. Look at what you have done and tell yourself "it's been a pretty cool ride so far." It's so easy to get caught up in the insecurity of social media and comparing yourself to everyone else's "greatest hits" feeds. So take a deep breath, give yourself a thumbs up, and appreciate that you have some greatest hits, too!
If you want to try this exercise, just chanel your inner "pre-professional" self. Have a conversation with that person. Ask them "What do you want to do with your life" and take some notes. Don't try and mold the replies to fit what you want the check off. This isn't a contest. They also don't have to all be monumental goals - One of my goals at 16 was to have an entire collection of the 92 original Kenner Star Wars figures (did that!)
With the new year and new decade everyone is talking about their resolutions going forward, but don't forget to look back and appreciate the things that got you here.