Saturday, August 28, 2010

Off Day

Today is a rest day...   well at least from working out it is.  Unfortunately its also a 7am-Midnight workday.  So theres not a lot of resting going on.  However on the plus side most of what I do today is push a few buttons on the lighting console and babysitt rehearsals occasionally and then we do the live broadcast from 7pm-1130pm or so tonight and I'm done.  So I do get to spend pretty much as much of the day as I want sitting down.  So its at least easy on the body.  And on the plus side the chair I get to sit in all day is one of those 200 dollar plus fancy schamancy office chairs that the tour I'm working on purchased for all the techs. 

So lets talk about work for a bit here.  I'm fairly certain I've hinted here that I'm starting to very much tire of what I do for a living.  My job takes a toll on you after a while.  Yes I make great money on the road, but at the same time being away from friends and family and your own bed on a regular basis is a pretty high cost to pay to balance that.  I am lucky in that by "touring" standards my job is pretty plush.  I work on exclusively corporate events.  I stay in very nice hotels and most of my shows last a week long in the same venue.  Many of my friends live on tour buses cutting across the US and the world setting up in the morning, doing the show, taking it all down and then sleeping on the bus on the way to the next town to do it all again.  Now thats hard work!  I would say on average I'm away 15-22 weeks a year with work.  Those aren't all week long trips though, as theres quite a few 3-5 day trips in there too that add up to that total.  When I was 24 and out of college I dreamed of being in the chair I'm in now.  I wanted to be good enough at my job that people would pay to fly me someplace to do my thing.  I looked up to the guys I met that do what I do now.  I really wanted to be them.

And now here we are many years later.  I'm that guy.  The corporate lighting and scenic designer on the road getting paid the big bucks and getting flown in especially by my clients to do my thing.  My clients know and respect me and my work ethic.  They know I won't stop or sleep, or ever give up on a gig till its at its best.  In fact I'm not the best lighting designer out there by a long shot, but I'm one of the hardest working and most professional ones you'll come across and thats why people fly me all over the place. 

But back to the big picture....     I've reached what I think is the pinnacle of success for me in my industry.  Yes there are much larger events I can work on, but realistically I don't think I'm going to get to that point.  Especially as I would have to make a bunch more sacrifices to get there.  For instance I would have to spend all of my free time trying to land more work, and learn more bits of software etc.  Which would mean no more training time.  And I am definitely not prepared to give that up.  Point is...   I'm at the peak of my career in this industry.  I've reached the top.  I could very easily stay right here working at this level for the next 20 years.  But that thought makes me shudder.  The other issue is stress levels.  As I've gotten better at what I do and progressed from technician to lighting designer to scenic designer I now have this giant workload and level of reponsibility on my plate.  Now my clients look to me to do both the scenic and lighting design for their events which means piles of conference calls and meetings and design and renderings and piles and piles of preproduction work and a GIANT stress level on load in day when just about every single department is affected by everything I do.  Everybody is asking for me to answer some question or other.  It gets pretty insanely stressfull.  And there were times when I thrived on that stress.  But as time progresses I don't love that stress as much.  Maybe I'm just getting older?  I don't know... but lately as much as I still love my job there seems to be more moments of stress and less moments of joy.  And I am just not enjoying the moments of stress.  They seem to be getting harder to deal with and not easier.

So the thing is...   in the last few years I've done a lot to take a step back from my life and overhaul it from as many angles as possible.  I lost weight, I completely overhauled my eating habits, I went from an unhealthy  life to the opposite extreme and I love it.  I took a long serious look at the relationships in my life and made some good decisions about how to better those and better myself.  I removed almost all of the bad influences and stressors from my personal life and my life in general.  These are all great things but theres one last piece of the puzzle left to go.  And thats my job.  I think I've reached the point where its time for a change of career.  The question thats been weighing heavily on me however is to what?  And this is the thing I need to figure out...   and soon.  The way my job works is that there are a number of projects I need to say yay or neigh to very early in the year.  So my window for change starts in late November and ends in late January.  After January I'm committed to another year of the tour I work on and several other large projects.  So ideally I need to make the switch at that point.  So what I've been rolling around in my head this year is do I make the change this year, or next year?  I would very much like to make that change this year if at all possible but with the economic climate being what it is I don't know if that will be possible. 

As a side note this year I made a large effort to talk to my clients and change the scope of what I do for work and reduce some of the stress levels and time requirements in order to stay in my current job and change it to more suit what I'm looking for.  Unfortunately many of my clients rebelled and protested.  I tried to close down the scenic design aspect of my business in order to take that workload off my plate.  The two major clients I have in that regard both protested mightily and even both offered to pay me more money to not give it up.  Which is a flattering compliment but it doesn't improve the quality of my life or reduce the stress I'm under any.

So the big question is whats next?  I need to spend some time thinking about my next move.  What it will be and when it will be.  Should I find someting to act as a buffer in the middle?  I can tell you one thing though.  Whatever it is there will be one completely un-negotiable aspect to this new job:

Must allow enough time outside of work to train for a full ironman.  The more I think about it the more I want to do one next year.  But I won't make that decision until after the FIRM is over.  We'll see how my first half goes first and then take things from there.

Ok...  time for me to go back to work and keep thinking about this....   I may not know exactly whats next but I'm excited about finding and placing this second to last piece of the puzzle in place.  Whats the other piece?  The answer to that one lies within the wisdom of the Beatles.....  "All You Need Is Love"

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