Many of you lovely people who either read this blog or follow me over on the Twitter Machine have been asking how my career change is progressing.
The answer is… slowly. Very, verrrry slowly.
I finished work on December 21st 2012. Contrary to what I’d hoped, my last few weeks weren’t quiet ones, and after a December of overtime I found myself working right up til 5pm on my last day. (I do hate leaving things unfinished.) As the time drew closer, I thought I should have found myself becoming more apprehensive. Rather, I noticed that with every day that passed, I felt a little happier. If I’d harboured any doubts, that told me all I needed to know.
My colleagues gave me a lovely send-off, and I’ll treasure the warm words I received on my last few days. I didn’t expect to feel emotional, but saying goodbye to so many talented, dedicated and genuine people – people with whom I’d spent long hours, sometimes late into the night writing, planning, presenting, debating, arguing, creating, developing and learning left me feeling a little wistful. I was also genuinely touched by some of the well wishes I received from my clients. And I didn’t even have to pay them! All filed in my head to combat days of self-doubt.
It was dark as I left, and I was one of the last. I sat into the car, started it and promptly burst into tears. Proper sobs and all. I wasn’t really sure why. However, bawling like a professional onion-peeler with conjunctivitis watching the Notebook isn’t exactly conducive to safe driving, and besides, I had a party to get to. So once the initial burst of .. call it what you want, sadness, relief, whatever, had subsided, it was time put my head down, avoid making red-eye contact with the security guard and get home and start the rest of my life.
My original intention, when I bit the bullet was to have a new job in the pipeline by the time I finished working. That didn’t happen, but to be fair, I hadn’t had much time or energy to put real effort into the application process. Neither is just before Christmas an ideal time to go job-hunting. And, it was really only when I finished and decamped west for Christmas that I realised how exhausted I’d been. The moment I slowed down, everything that had been chasing me for weeks caught up. The body’s way of saying “slow down”? There was very little partying and very large portioning over the Christmas period. Highly satisfactory, and ultimately I think the decision to take some extra time out was the right one. Sometimes it’s good when plans don’t work out.
So, fast-forward a month, and I’m officially unemployed for the first time.
The time out has been pretty wonderful, if I’m honest. It mightn’t have been strictly necessary, but it’s been a revelation to have time to think, to rest, to catch up with friends and family, to sleep, to travel, to volunteer, to research, to walk on the beach, to cook, to read, to write… there is always something to do. I am never, ever bored. (I don’t really understand the concept of boredom, I must admit. How can anyone be bored when there’s so much to do?!) I was wary of being unemployed. Lack of routine doesn’t suit me well, and it did cross my mind that I might find myself … slipping. To date, that hasn’t happened, though there have been a couple of dodgy days. But it’s good to know the signs, so I can address them quickly. I’ve tried to stick to a routine that involves getting up at a decent hour, going out for fresh air and exercise, talking to people, sleeping well and cooking well. (And job hunting, obviously.) Some days it’s easier than others – the January weather doesn’t help!
Budgeting is a must. Social engagements have had to be curtailed, and the cost of petrol has led to a new-found appreciation for walking and public transport. I’m constantly mindful of money now; which is probably not a bad habit to get into. But I never forget that I chose to put myself in this position, and I consider myself lucky to have been able to make that choice, especially when so many others haven’t.
There are also days of crippling self-doubt (like yesterday) where I berate myself for making this *stupid* decision and putting myself under this pressure and being a complete *idiot* for walking away from a secure position with decent prospects when no company with an *ounce* of sense would ever consider employing me because I have *nothing* to offer. Dramatic much? Mercifully those days are few and far between, and I find when those days occur it’s best to put aside the job hunt on and focus on other things.
Now, I’m starting to get cabin fever. I’m a little restless. I’ve found myself listening to Liveline a little more than I’d like. I’m ready to start something new. I’m naturally a worker, and am starting to miss the satisfaction that comes from having put in a good productive day. I think I ultimately want to work in the not-for-profit sector. But roles are thin on the ground in the January of a recession! And the more the days go on, the more I’m drawn to the notion of temp work. I’d like to try working in different environments and see which I can contribute most to, and which I feel most comfortable in. So I think that’s what I’m going to focus on for now.
So if any of you reading this feel I would be a good short-term asset to your business, please feel free to get in touch! More than happy to use my blog to pimp myself to the highest bidder. Hell, any bidder. 😉
Thanks for reading, and also for the kind words of encouragement you’ve given over in the “other” place. (You know who you are). I’m looking forward to a challenging 2013, but in the meantime it would be a crime to waste this view….
The career journey – an update