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How to know when to give up.

Sep 25, 2023

The reality is that we need to make money to survive.  However, there are a select few of us that get to consider ourselves “the lucky ones” that get paid to fulfill our purpose, and for me that purpose has and will always be filmmaking. 

How do you become one of the “lucky ones”? And to be brutally honest, how do you know when the time has come to grapple with the understanding that you should probably move on to something new – regardless of all the drive, passion and dedication you may have. When there is still time to pursue something else. As to my first point, we need money to sustain our lives (Unless of course you have an unlimited trust fund – today’s blog isn’t for you) 

Dan Mace in Sea (waves) in Formal Suite
Dan Mace in Sea (waves) in Formal Suite

In this blog I go into detail about every-time I really truly considered ‘opting out’ and question the spectrum of how much of your creativity and talent you are willing to abandon to pay the bills.

The quote ‘ do what you love and you will never work a day in your life’,  is bullsh*t. I call myself a ‘lucky one’,  because I am making a living by doing what I enjoy, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard. Every film I make is a war with myself, a constant creative battle. Talent and recognition does not mean you work less, it actually makes it more difficult. As you progress towards this mirage of a finish line it starts to get further and further away. I constantly strive to be better. Not just as a filmmaker but in every aspect of my life. Being good at something and sustaining it is tough, although I may love it, there are multiple times I ask myself if all of this, even writing this blog post right now, is ‘worth it’. 

Being hired as a creative is not as straightforward as working a corporate job. Moments of inspiration can require immediate attention and this can take away from valuable time with loved ones. These times have often forced me to ask myself ‘if the juice is worth the squeeze’. Is this positively affecting my livelihood? Like time with my newborn son, Seth. 

Dan Mace with his Wife & Son
Dan Mace with his Wife & Son

One mantra that lives constantly in my mind is “happiness equals reality over expectation” which suggests that one’s happiness is dependent on how closely their reality, their opportunities, aligns with their expectations. It implies that when our expectations are met or exceeded, we experience a sense of happiness and contentment. However, if our expectations are unrealistic, it can lead to disappointment or furthermore a perpetual cycle of unfulfillment. This notion underscores the importance of managing our expectations, setting realistic goals, and cultivating a positive mindset. By aligning our expectations with the reality of our circumstances, we increase our chances of finding happiness and maintaining a greater sense of fulfilment in life. 

It reminds us that true happiness lies not only in achieving our desires but also in finding joy and gratitude in the present moment. 

A year ago I did a speech at the Cannes Lion Festival where I outlined the 10 little things in life that can lead to big things. These will help you to keep going, to NOT OPT OUT, well, not just yet at least. If you are close, these will  give you one last shot at pursuing your passion. 

Dan Mace - Cannes Lions Photo

1) You are most important. 

Every single day when you wake up in the morning, check in with yourself first before checking in on social media. Or anything else. I got stuck in a vicious cycle of immediately checking my work mails which caused immense anxiety. Check in on your health both Physical and Mental and make sure that no matter what your stresses and times of adversity are in check in both mentally and physically. The best investment you make in your life is in yourself, to ensure that you will perform at your best ability in the workspace as well as be the best mother/father, friend, partner, boss, colleague or loved one to those around you. Exactly 87 Days ago today I started journaling. Theres a great app called ‘Day One’ that I use to write a morning affirmation in as well as just to remind myself that no matter what, I’ll come out ok. 

2) Learn how to quieten your mind. 

There is a brilliant Indian word ‘Rasasvada’ that means ‘the taste of bliss in the absence of thought’. Everyday I try to get to the ocean or a body of water and submerge in it for 20 – 30 minutes – This really helps me silence my mind. By doing this I can access chambers of creativity that come from deep within me.

3) Read more. 

One of the core principles and rules I encourage my staff at my Company JOE to follow is that reading a book a week can have a drastic impact on your writing, creativity, inspiration and imagination. It gets your mind working by attaching words to psychological imagery. If you are looking for a comprehensive reading list to kickstart your weekly binge be sure to check out my second Blog Post – How to turn your BORING Storytelling into ENGAGING Narratives – where I breakdown the 10 best books that every filmmaker must read. 

4) Be a good person. 

Networking is everything. Every job I’ve ever gotten has been through my relationships with highly skilled creatives, that I have been building and continually working on for the last 15 years. Be sure to treat everyone with respect (This goes without saying, but Iv’e let a form of deluded ‘status’ make me become a d*ck at times – which has always back-fired). Irrespective of their role in the workplace every person should be treated equally. Not only will this make you a better person in general, but also help you by forming strong and long lasting relationships with people in all aspects of life, you never know what these could lead to. The two things that you need to be successful, is to add value and to be liked. So be a good person. 

Dan Mace with BRU's from India while making an Anthem for Mumbai

5) Hang in the right places. 

I landed my first big ad by hanging out at a bar (haha this sounds like an oxymoron for someone who doesn’t drink) that I knew all the creatives from top tier agencies would go to after work, hoping to get my shot at pitching one of them my ideas I had for TV Commercials and by chance met a creative that took a liking to my style of storytelling and he gave me the shot of my lifetime. My first Major International Commercial that won multiple awards across the globe and really platformed me as a young film director. This was around 7 years ago. 

6) 50% Innovation, 50% Efficiency

You can never have enough time and managing that time allows for everything to run like clockwork. Keeping on top of tasks, deadlines and projects can allow you to dedicate time to innovation, ideation and imagination. I always tell my team to make sure the task is done by the deadline, it does not matter how you get there just ensure it is done on time even if this impacts your creative desire to make the best possible film, as to my point above, you have to learn to abandon parts of your creativity to pay the bills and in this case keep your job haha. However, if balanced correctly you should have sufficient time in order to innovate. There is a very fine line between the two. 

3 photographers & Dan Mace, while Dan is finding a different angle. Upside Down
3 photographers & Dan Mace, while Dan is finding a different angle. Upside Down

7) Exercise.

 One thing I find in common with the every successful person I interact with is that they all exercise daily. Linking back to point one, you are most important – your health and well being is most important. I try to go for a run every morning before a cold water plunge to clear my head and think about the day – So many of my ideas come to me while I’m running. Spending time with my thoughts can inspire creativity from deep within me. I also surf, box and gym around 4 times a week. This too is another way to keep my mind in check and maintain a healthy balance in my lifestyle. There are ample studies on how exercise effects your overall mood and reduce stress, personally it makes me feel like I’ve already achieved something great before starting my work day. 

8) Stop listening to answer, and start listening to understand. 

When people are talking to you, giving you feedback, telling stories or even just chatting; if you can listen to understand what they are saying and comprehend the crux of what they are telling you, you will be far more likeable because ‘interested is interesting’. People like people who are interested in what they have to say. Secondly, you will learn far more listening to others speak than through the sound of your own voice. Be aware of developing a cognitive dissonance to others beliefs and also try to keep an open mind. It is very common, especially amongst younger people, to always try and push their righteousness, as I guess one of the most common desires for all humans is to feel ‘heard’. By doing this you are not actually gaining any value from that person, rather just telling them what you already know. This can make you come across as a know-it-all and oftentimes very unlikable.

9) How do you know where you’re going if you don’t have a detailed road map? 

Write out your goals. I do this daily with an hour to hour to do list. I also have a checklist for the week, then month, then year. This is how to create long lasting internal affirmation. Constantly achieving incremental goals is a lot more motivating. Keeping track of productivity can massively help boost efficiency and innovation.

TOP DOWN PHOTO OF DAN IN OFFICE
TOP DOWN PHOTO OF DAN IN OFFICE

10) Give back. 

If you asked me what the most fulfilling job would be, it would be easing human suffering through art. When MrBeast came to me a year ago and asked me to take charge of the Philanthropy videos I could not think of anything more fulfilling. The mission of our Philanthropy content is to share the stories of 10s of thousands of people around the world and do our part to ease human suffering. These films have often made me realise how much I take for granted in my own life, whether it’s running water, electricity or even a pair of shoes. And giving back can not only be in the literal sense, but also by passing on knowledge to those I believe in.

If you are still reading this it means that you truly do want to make it in your respective field. So hats off to you because this definitely wasn’t an easy read, but I hope that it adds valuable insight. I will leave you with one last quote I recently heard. ‘Most lessons have to be experienced before they can be understood’. 

Read last week’s blog : HOW TO MAKE VIRAL VIDEOS – FT. MRBEAST

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70 Comments

  1. “STOP LISTENING TO ANSWER, AND START LISTENING TO UNDERSTAND.” – my favourite…. ❤️

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    • My trouble is that I’m constantly ingesting motivational and inspiring content, but I find it hard to stat accountable to the one person that matters – myself. It is a big internal struggle to be ambitious but also more introverted since Covid happened.
      I tend to find it easier to check in with someone on my progress rather than have an internal discussion with myself, and I need to get better at being my own boss.
      Dan if you have any pointers on specifically keeping yourself accountable to your goals I’m all ears, because I have so many ideas but never sure which way to point my arrow

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      • Hey Andrew, thank you for sharing your honest comment.
        Staying accountable and true to yourself is a battle I think we all face on a day to day basis. Everyday is different and with a new day comes new challenges. You need to remember that it is how you approach every situation within your mind set that determines whether you win the battle or not. You are your biggest supporter. Keep focused and if you ever have internal battles it really does help to write them down. You actually get to take a step back and figure out what is causing you to struggle with these battles.

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    • It is definitely one of the best phrases. It is so powerful. Thanks, Sara!

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  2. Again. So helpful. I look forward to buying your book one day.

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    • Happiness equals expectation over reality – people are generally happy when the reality of life is better anticipated

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    • Thanks, Nic my bru! That means a lot!

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  3. THANKS FOR THE GREAT ADVICE DAN! This blog has become a constant in my life now. keep it up!

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    • Thabani my bru! I will always give the best advice I possibly can from the lessons that I have learnt along the years. Thanks for the support.

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  4. This is really what I needed, thank you Dan!

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    • Thanks, Dalton. I hope you took some good pointers out of my blog. You can apply them in your field on a day to day basis.

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  5. Great read! Thank you Dan for continuously giving out all that value🙏

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    • Hilde! Thank you for having a read!

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  6. I am learning a whole lot from you every week❤️❤️🔥

    Thank you for this Dan💯

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    • Reubs my bru! Thank you. I am so glad you are taking things out of this blog. I appreciate everything you do!

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  7. Great Read!!
    Thank you dan for excellent the advice, deffs need to work on that exercise tip for me

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    • Thanks, Elijah. Exercise is so powerful. It keeps you determined, disciplined and focused. Starting your day exercising definitely boosts your mood and attitude!

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  8. Super valuable insight and definitely a topic that needs to be discussed more in the future. Such a fine margins between Art and Commerce and you have explored it brilliantly! Looking forward to next week!💪🏼

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    • Thanks, Raiffe. Finding that balance can be a challenge but everyday is a new day to try again.

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  9. Yes yes yes soooo good. These keep getting better and better ♥️

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    • Thank you so much, Raine! I always try make each blog better and better. I appreciate the comment !

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  10. This is such good advice as we often don’t know when to give up and there is so much strength in knowing when to quit so that you can move onto what is meant for you and start winning at the things you are great at. Also having a plan is great advice. Thanks for sharing this Dan!

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    • Kelly! There is a big difference between knowing when to quit and giving up. You have to always plan for these types of things because nothing in life is set in stone.

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  11. These posts are so insightful and truthful. Thanks for always sharing your experiences!

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    • Matty my bru! Thank you. I will continue to share my experiences and I hope you take some advice from all my blogs. Even if it is something small.

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  12. Wow Dan, hit home. “As you progress towards this mirage of a finish line it starts to get further and further away.”

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    • Hey Julia! It is so true. It feels like you take one step up then two steps down at times. As long as you stay true to yourself and know when you’ve gone down to many steps then you need to take a step back and evaluate how to get up those stairs further than ever before.

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  13. Another incredible blog post Dan! Your points are so down to earth and bluntly realistic compared to a lot of the overdone “motivational” type content you see now-days. You can tell that all of your points are from real experiences and places. Thank you for taking the time to create these posts each week.

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    • Thanks, Andy my bru! I appreciate that! All my points mentioned in my blogs are honest and based off of my own personal experiences. The time it takes to put all of this together in one neat, easy read is a challenge but I am happy to hear you enjoyed the blog.

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  14. Aeiiu

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    • So many valuable lessons in one blog. Thank you.

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      • Thank you so much, Pips! I am happy you enjoyed the lessons in the blog.

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  15. Always motivated and inspired by your words of wisdom, Dan! Thank you for this. Looking forward to the next piece of valuable information and advice 🙂

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    • Thanks, Frank. I always aim to motivate and share my stories. Plenty more blogs/advice/tips and information coming!

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  16. This blog was incredible. “Be a good person” really hit home. If more people focus on themselves the more they grow.

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    • Kevin bru. It is so important to be good and kind to yourself. We live in a world now where we compare and feel “less than” to others. As long as you are treating yourself well then that’s all you can ask for.

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  17. The world is filled with so many distractions and things to keep us “busy” that we don’t stop to smell the roses anymore… “Quietening the mind” has been a tool that has helped me appreciate what we have and what we can achieve. Amazing stuff Dan!

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    • Joey! You hit the nail on the head. Now a days things are moving at such a rapid speed that we forget to enjoy the journey rather than the final destination.

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  18. Giving back and being charitable are things that should stand above all. You are right Dan, easing human suffering and helping is fulfilling because you are making a difference!

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    • James my bru! I couldn’t have said it any better myself. The more we help and make a difference the less harsh this world seems to be.

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  19. Always so nice to read blogs from you, Dan. Please do not stop with your truthfulness and sharing your experiences.

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    • Thanks, Sarah! I am glad you enjoy my blog posts. I will definitely keep them coming!

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  20. I often write down my goals as you have mentioned and it really does help put things into perspective and helps your prioritise what is important and meaningful in your life! Spot on Dan.

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    • Vuyo my bru! It makes a massive difference when you can actual see with your own eyes what you want to achieve and the steps needed to get there. Thanks man.

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  21. You are right, Dan… exercise is so important not only for physical health but for your mental health. The fortitude your mind takes when you put yourself first and take care of yourself is incredible. Nothing can stop you and nothing beats working up a sweat to start your day feeling revitalised and fresh. Going to add on an extra few km’s this morning!

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    • So true, Heinz! Once the mind and body are in sync and fortified then nothing becomes “impossible”. You can always make a plan to get to your end goal and exercise sure is a discipline that expands across multiple aspects of life.

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  22. Haha “hang in the right places”… You never know who you could meet. Thanks for this Dan, loved the whole blog!

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    • Haha thanks, Sean! Often times the best people/situations come when you least expect it. I appreciate the comment!

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  23. Read Read Read! We are told this all throughout school and honestly it has been one of the biggest changes I have noticed since I started reading things I actually enjoyed. I can’t put a book down and the amount of knowledge and comfort you get from physically reading a book and being able to turn the page is a feeling I will never get over. Also being able to finish the book and close it officially is definitely an endorphin releaser!
    Thanks for sharing, Dan!

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    • Thanks, Emma! Reading really does get the wheels turning in the brain and allows you to think differently and more “out of the box”. Nothing will beat that feeling of finishing a book and reflecting on what you have experienced from the story.

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  24. I agree with every point you have said in this blog. I love the opening and the first lesson being you are most important and it is so true. No one else can live your life and no one else can tell your story. You are all you got and you have to stay strong and stay true to yourself and what you love. This blog is amazing!

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    • Thanks Amélie! It is so true and important to remember. We tend to forget about ourselves quite often but you have to put the work in, in order to make yourself happy.

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  25. The things I learn and the knowledge I gain with every single one of your blogs is incredible. Thank you for always sharing your experiences with us so we can learn from them!

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    • Thato my bru! Thanks for the comment. I appreciate the support!

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  26. We all sometimes feel like giving up but it is what you do to push through that defines you. If I had given up I wouldn’t be where I am today with the things I am grateful for such as my wife and kids. Life can be complicated but you are never alone on this road. Thanks for sharing this with us, Dan! Also congrats to you and Gabi on the baby!

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    • Thank you so much, Andrè! You learn and grow from your mistakes. Life is unpredictable but everyday you tackle and face is an opportunity in itself.

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  27. We all have to pay the bills and I agree with you on that one… sometimes you do have to sacrifice a bit of creativity to get things done but in the end if you can manage your schedule you’ll be able to catch up on that creativity and use it elsewhere! Creativity never dies and is never lost, just stored away until that person decides to reach out and hold onto it again. You have to stay balanced and not lose sight of your end goal.

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    • Alex my bru! You should never lose sight of your end goal. Of course there will be hardships and sacrifices to me made along the way but that is all part of the journey.

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  28. Outstanding post Bru! I love that you’re doing these blog posts.

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    • This is Reed!

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    • Thank you so much my bru! I am glad you enjoying them.

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  29. Thank you bru. <3

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    • Thanks Roei! I hope you enjoyed the blog!

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  30. Hi Dan, I am a storyteller based out of India. I often ask myself ‘is it worth it’ too – you caught me there. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this from beginning to end. Your creative prowess has always inspired me to push and do more and never settle. Whereas, your off screen process is so real, humane and relatable. Thank you for walking us through all the shades. If you could share your framework for writing goals and maintaining a checklist, that would be amazing. But, no pressure. Cheers, Bru 🙂

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    • Thanks for the comment, Sai! I try to be as relatable, honest and open as I can be to my audience. Not a bad blog post idea there haha

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  31. Beautifully written, well said name-bruh! Finding the balance can be challenging when you get a creative tunnel vision, or hyper focus on the wrong “right” things. Gotta zoom out to see the arena youre in. For that its great to have a significant other to tell you whats what.

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    • Dan my bru! Sometimes you just have to take a step back and acknowledge where you are and what battles you need to face in order to reach your goals.

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  32. Sick bro epic perspective inspiration to the max never give up 👌💯 get out there!! 🤙🤙🤘🤘

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    • Thanks Branno! You gotta get out there and do what you love to do. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

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