Do fly – time for a change

Written by
Gavin Strange
Illustration by
Ryan Gillett

Stuck in a rut at work or need a push getting that project off the ground? This month we're publishing an extract from the book Do Fly by Gavin Strange, director & designer at Aardman Animations. In the chapter 'Time For A Change', Gavin offers advice on how to recognise when it's time to make a change, breaking old habits and making space for new ones.

Change can mean different things to different people. It can be exciting, terrifying, something to be feared or to be embraced. But the truth is we all need to be open to the idea of change.

To move forwards something usually has to change. It could be as simple as swapping what kind of pencil you use or as profound as altering your whole belief system. No matter what the scale of change is, they’re all valid, as it means you’re starting to consider other possibilities or other ways of doing things.

Sometimes the hardest part can be realising and then accepting that things need to change. It’s hard because it’s scary. Really scary. Having comfort in our routine is lovely. It’s … it’s … comfortable, and that’s a lovely feeling. To suddenly disrupt that feels bonkers, but sometimes it has to be done in order to get to a better place. Think of it as a bit of turbulence. Trust me, it’ll soon pass and then you’ll be above the clouds!

It’s so easy to get eaten up with cynicism and negativity, thinking that the good stuff doesn’t happen to people like you, and the opportunities just don’t present themselves. So start by redirecting some of your time and energy to change that. Start bridging gaps, start conversations, start sowing seeds. Don’t focus on what isn’t happening, focus on what could happen.

If you don’t feel there’s a group that represents you – start it. If there’s something missing from the conversation– introduce it.

If you don’t feel there’s a group that represents you – start it. If there’s something missing from the conversation– introduce it.

If you’re working within a larger organisation you’ll have to find the boundaries of what you can and can’t change. Push gently against the things you’d like to be different, help and encourage others with things you’d like to see change. I’m not advocating a hostile or aggressive position, totally the opposite – you can make changes by being a kind, warm and passionate person.

And things will naturally change too. So you’ll have to constantly re-evaluate yourself. What you want and need from your work and personal life can and will change often. So be sure to take time out every now and then to take stock of what you’re thinking and feeling.

In practical terms, you can do that by just stepping outside of your normal routine – disrupt your schedule a little and give yourself a bit of time to reflect. Make a mental note to check in with yourself regularly. It could be as grand as scheduling a mini-holiday to take some time out and assess your life and work. Try and go away on your own – radical, eh? Or it could be as simple as using a train journey to switch off the social media and just contemplate. Are you happy? Are you being the change you want to see? Ask yourself these questions.

As much as this is an individual pursuit, do take a look at what other people need too. Do your ideas and goals line up with what your colleagues and comrades are doing? Do you believe there’s a better way to do something that will benefit everyone? Collaborating with others to make change happen can bring it about much quicker, so seek out those positive souls who share your desire for change.

Communication is also key for those who don’t want change. In an organisation of any shape or size there will be opposition, so being able to passionately relay your desire for making things different is essential.

Each of us only has 24 hours in the day, and that will never change. So use that time wisely. Think of it like a currency and spend it as best you can.

One thing I’ve learned is that the greatest leveller of the human race is time. No matter how much money, power or advantage you have, each of us only has 24 hours in the day, and that will never change. So use that time wisely. Think of it like a currency and spend it as best you can.

Go home after work, say hello to your loved ones, make some dinner and then crack on with something that makes you happy. Seek that satisfaction in the small hours, look for it in places you don’t expect. Start small – that really helps. After a long, difficult day, it can be incredibly hard to summon the energy needed to start actively engaging your brain again, especially as the night draws in. So set yourself a little target – something realistic and achievable. Maybe once a week set aside an hour to practise a new skill or indulge in a hobby. Then try twice a week, maybe doubling the time you allow. It’s really hard to imagine getting stuck into more ‘work’ when you’re feeling tired, but as soon as you discover the feeling of satisfaction and pride once you’ve completed one small task, you’ll be back for more.

Find a routine that works for you. Everyone’s different and it will depend on which extra-curricular activities you choose as to how and when you’ll best fit them in. When it came to writing this book I needed to find a new routine. I couldn’t seem to write in the evenings, so I’d get up an hour earlier each day before work to get creative! It was really difficult some mornings, but once I had a cuppa by my side and some gentle music playing, I could get in the zone. The first day I did this, the feeling I had once I realised I’d accomplished something before 8 a.m. – before work! – was wonderful. After that there was no stopping me.

Find the pattern that suits you. Find the rhythm that feels right. Keep it manageable. This could be as simple as finding and following a new group of people on Instagram or Twitter who all do things you’d like to do. Or see if that website domain name you like is still available. Before you know it, you’ll be more productive than you ever thought you could be!

Published by The Do Book Co the go to publishers for inspirational pocket guides to help creative entrepreneurs, makers and Doers work smarter and create positive change. Written by experts whose stories and ideas have inspired others to go and Do, the collection spans business, design, wellbeing and sustainable living, with each book focusing on the ‘doing’ rather than the background theory. Books to inspire action. 

Gavin Strange is a Director & Designer for the iconic British creative studio Aardman. Working there for over a thirteen years, his creative output ranges from motion graphic title sequences for the OFFF festival and Shaun the Sheep feature film, to live-action channel idents for BBC Two and mixed media Christmas films for Fortnum & Mason.

We're also running a competition to give away three Do Fly books. Follow the link to our Instagram page to enter. The competition closes on Monday 31st January 2022 at 5pm GMT.

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