Today has been a day that has really reinforced for me how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to have made a change – both to my career and to my family’s lifestyle.
After staying up way too late watching some crazy American show where three guys fossick for stuff in abandoned buildings, the snooze button was hit a few too many times before I finally displaced the cat sleeping on me and headed off to the gym. School holidays allowed some extra flexibility with only one child needing to head off to childcare which my husband could do before work (again the joys of flexible hours).
An hour and a half over lunch was spent participating in a “Directors at a Distance” webinar run by Women on Boards. The two-part webinar is aimed at women outside capital cities or who have other commitments that prevent them from getting to the workshops that WOB run to help women prepare themselves for board positions. Most importantly, there is a focus on creating your profile and board CV. After some experience in a board in Hanoi, I’m hoping that one or two board positions could be a good way to broaden my experience and utilise the skills I have. My big take out from the session this morning was focusing on What I Understand and What I Am rather than simply the things I have done. As I have thought more about this as the day as gone on, I think this is valuable for my career more broadly particularly given I don’t know exactly know where I want to go next. So I need to focus on the skills and the attributes I have acquired up until now.
Thinking about what next is taking up a lot of my time – and probably more so as I meet new people and talk about opportunities. I’m also excited about starting some business coaching/mentoring with a really talented entrepreneur who just happens to be a good friend. This is a big step for me because I have always said that I didn’t want my own business and a career change for me was just about looking for a new career when I left the public service.
I’m realising that the big question for me is not WHAT I do next but HOW. As much as I am loving the Masters I am doing in Arts and Entertainment Management, I am starting to feel like actual (paying) jobs might be limited in a regional area, and the more I settle into our life in the Barossa, the more I come to think that I don’t necessarily want a full time job that involves a commute into the city (around an hour each way).
So the focus on finding my next career path is about HOW I work. I want to be flexible both in hours and location. I want to have the space to learn and explore news things, to create – whether it be writing, cooking, sewing or gardening, and I want to be there for my family when they need me. After Hanoi and 15 years in government and Embassy buildings, I want to be able to take my work outside when the days are beautiful or find a cosy café when its cold and wet.
Hence the need to look at whether there is something I could create that allows me to work in this way – and still provide for my family (and allow for my shopping and travel habits).
Which brings me to the latter part of my day. I was excited to receive Lisa Messenger’s book Daring and Disruptive in the post on the same day the latest issue of her fabulous magazine regenade Collective was ready to download onto my iPad. I came across this magazine about a year ago thanks to Twitter and have been inspired by every page since. I hadn’t heard of Lisa Messenger until then and I also enjoyed listening to her when Emma and Audrey from My 15 Minutes did their The 15 Minutes That Changed My Life series earlier this year.
So instead of being stuck at work, doing something that wasn’t getting me any closer to where I wanted to be, I was so, so grateful for having had the opportunity (thanks to a redundancy) to not be working, and to sit in the park in a beautiful rural town, reading while my two boys ran in the fresh air and made new friends. And because I was reading while we were at the park, I almost didn’t feel guilty about the study I should have been doing for my exam next Monday. I’m only a few pages in, but I can see this is a book I’ll read quickly and then go back to again and again.
And while I do miss some aspects of my job (and the perks from being overseas) the truth is, for every great night out or fabulous holiday or highlight at work, there were a lot of hours where I wondered why I was doing something I didn’t believe in and wondered why I was missing out on time with my family. I honesty didn’t think I would ever have this chance to step back from paid work to concentrate on building the life that is going to make sure our family continues to be a happy, healthy unit, and that makes me even more grateful and this experience even sweeter.