It looks like once again it’s up to what now?

As you may have noticed already, today’s email newsletter looks quite different than those you’ve received from me in the past, and that’s for good reason. I’m excited to announce this is the first of many new messages I’ll be sending you every Monday morning that I’m calling the “Case of the Mondays” Newsletter.

The intent of this newsletter is not just to continue sharing the same general announcements about podcasts, articles, upcoming workshops, or coaching enrollment (only with fancier fonts and colors).

Instead the intent of these new weekly newsletters is to share with you my deeper thoughts and personal insights about what it really takes to optimize your career (and life) such that you’re not just surviving but instead thriving. This will be personal stuff that goes way beyond the podcasts and the articles I generally publish online.

For better or for worse (we’ll find out which soon enough), I’m giving you VIP access into my own head & heart.

Originally my plan was to send you something funny, lighthearted, motivational, and inspirational today. But if you’ve been following the latest headlines and updates in the entertainment industry regarding the horrendous working conditions and the potential strike (which has been averted…for now), you probably already know why I decided to “read the room” and completely trash the fun draft I was planning to share with you today.

No matter if you’re currently a voting member of the IATSE union, you belong to a different guild altogether, if you’re non-union, or you don’t even work in the entertainment industry, there’s one truth you and I need to come to terms with if our intent is confidently designing a clear path towards the more balanced, more productive, and more fulfilling live that we deserve:

It’s up to us to create change.

It’s not our fault that we’re facing the challenges we are. But it’s our responsibility to do something about them, whether we are protected by a solid contract or on our own.

Before addressing what to do next, allow me to digress for a second…

The reason I chose to name this weekly email the “Case of the Mondays” Newsletter is because of my obsessive love of the movie Office Space. Here’s the movie clip that inspired this phrase:

For those unfamiliar, having a “Case of the Mondays” simply means that you’re absolutely dreading the work week ahead.

It’s 9:07 am Monday morning, and you’re already counting the minutes until Friday night (or Fraturday morning if you work in production).

You live for the weekends.

You feel undervalued and disrespected.

You no longer have any passion for your work.

And you just don’t know if you can take it anymore.

While the original plan for this debut newsletter was for it to be fun & lighthearted, I decided to forge ahead anyways because I can’t imagine a better week to discuss the concept of dreading your work.

I can’t imagine a Monday morning that people are dreading more in the entertainment industry than today. I think this comment from electrician Daniel Remillard in yesterday’s Variety article says it all:

On Friday we said our goodbyes and shook hands like, ‘See you in the brave new world.’ Now it’s ‘See you Monday.’

Talk about a punch to the gut. Ugh.

So what’s going on?

If you’re not following the headlines, here’s the one sentence update:

IATSE (the union representing the below-the-line guilds) has come to a potential agreement with the AMPTP (the studios and “producers”)…and a lot of people aren’t happy with the proposed terms.

→ Here’s the press release with all the official info

I have no intention of debating the finer deal points, the percentages, what has or has not been allocated to raises, pension & health plans, streaming residuals, and all the other bullet points.

Instead I’d like to point out the giant elephant in the room → None of the proposed changes in this contract will have any significant effect on the quality of life for those who sacrifice their health, relationships, and sanity for the sake of creating entertainment.

When I reached out via social media to ask the following question – “How will this new contract change your life for the better?” – let’s just say the reaction wasn’t positive. All over social media right now the pitchforks are out and the torches are lit.

I wish I could share that I’m surprised by where we are now…but I wrote the following 3 years ago during the previous negotiations and I still believe the same thing today:

“A new contract isn’t going to change anything without YOU. None of these issues matter if we don’t enforce them on an individual level.”

A single contract negotiation will not yield more empathy from the “producers” who automatically assume that yesterday’s miracle is now today’s expectation.

A single contract negotiation will not force people to get more organized that are costing you hours of your life every single day.

A single contract negotiation will not transform overnight a toxic work culture that has existed for decades.

And most importantly, a single contract will not change the fact that your contributions are not being valued or respected.

Which brings me back to the big question for today…

So what now?

I have a lot more resources coming soon to address this question including a brand new Community Q&A podcast that I just recorded with my coaching & mentorship community (that includes a HUGE special guest with an above-the-line perspective), but in short the only way things are going to change is if we say “No” to any request (i.e. demand) that puts our health, relationships, safety, or sanity in jeopardy.

To be clear: I’m not saying your work should be easy. I’m not saying every day should be a half day with family dinners every single night and 9 hours of sleep. We’re not living in the 1950’s anymore.

Creating meaningful work that has a positive impact on the world is hard. It often takes long hours. And it takes sacrifice. And often your work is going to suck at first. And it will be rejected. And you’ll need to get better before you get your shot. You are not automatically entitled to success just cuz. You have to earn your own definition of success one step at a time.

Ultimately if you are going to wake up every Monday morning looking forward to the week instead of dreading it, it’s not about making your life easier (or even more terrifying, being “comfortable”) – it’s about making sure that you are valued and respected.

If you feel you aren’t valued and respected by those making the demands on your time & expertise, it’s time to ask yourself why you continue to say “Yes.”

Then you need to start coming up with a plan that allows you to say “No” to the wrong projects where you’re working with the wrong people.

As I’ve said many times before (and I’ll keep reminding you):

You deserve to love what you do for a living…but not at the expense of your health, your relationships, or your sanity.

If you stick with me, I’ll continue to share with you all the best strategies, resources, and experts I can find to help you do just that…including coming up with a sound plan for what comes next.

In the meantime I’d love to know, friend:
What is one step you can take TODAY to set healthier boundaries in your life?

Be well.
Zack Arnold
Creator, Optimize Yourself

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”