Putting Work In Its Place and an Update From Me
So it’s been a while since I was last here. Over 12 months to be exact. But there’s been a good reason – or many reasons if the truth be told and I feel like it’s time to explain why for those that have followed my journey over the past couple of years.
As you already might know, I’m a big believer in being open to and accepting change which has always been underpinned by the notion that you should always expect the unexpected. And what an unexpected ride the last twelve months has been.
In one of the last blog posts I had written, I promised to reveal how I landed the job I had dreamed of which suited my circumstances and skills down to the ground. This is the first reason why I’ve taken a little bit of a detour away from my blog and my work as a career coach. In the process of devoting my time and energy to my work as a law lecturer, something magical has happened. I have found myself in a situation where I am able to use my skills and knowledge as a lawyer and mentor law graduates who are about to become fully ledged lawyers. I always had a desire to be in a job that I felt contributed in some meaningful way where I felt what I had to offer was more valuable than the six minute units I could charge to a client. For years I was disillusioned and felt trapped in a career that I had spent considerable time, energy and money building only to realise that my heart and soul were truly not in it for the long haul. That’s a hard place to find yourself when you’ve worked hard to work your way up, build a body of experience all the while looking towards the future with little more than a horrified sinking feeling that you’ve made a huge mistake.
So over the course of a number of years, I did a whole lot of soul searching. I dissected every part of the experience I had gained, the skills and knowledge I had learnt and the aspects of both my career thus far and my personality to work out in fine detail what I felt I was really good at and what brought me real joy. Luckily for me I had had a varied career and there were lots of skills I had gained along the way which signalled that all was not lost and that perhaps I could salvage something from the wreck that was my legal career. I knew with absolute certainty that I didn’t want to practice law in a large corporate firm again. I knew that working for a big corporation came with leaving your morals and values at the door and succumbing to the ethos of the big corporate machine and that I could not serve in the way I wanted to serve doing what I was doing.
After doing various bouts of study and gaining experience as a coach, I slowly started to find my niche. I found that what I really loved to do was mentor and coach people to reach their goals but that I didn’t really want to be a coach in the true sense of the word. I wasn’t cut to market myself or a business at this point in my life while raising two small children. I didn’t have the energy or the will power to invest what I needed to invest in growing a business.
So where did that leave me? I was lost. I knew that I wanted to work in some capacity but didn’t know how to use the skills I had gained in a way that I felt was adding value.
So I went back to the basics and broke down every aspect of what I had gained over the course of my life and where my strengths lay. What I discovered was that what I really loved to do was teach, mentor and help those who needed a little boost. The incredible thing was that I had dabbled in lecturing and mentoring in my legal career and that if I could strip away all the other ‘work’ as a lawyer, I would have the perfect career. Lo and behold, when I worked out what it was I wanted to do, I sought out to find work in that area. I took the bold step of approaching a colleague who I had done some lecturing for previously and was very happy to be given the opportunity to join a wonderful organisation which fitted in perfectly with my skill set and my experience.
As a lecturer, I get to impart the knowledge I have gained over 20 years in not just law but in career coaching, resilience, work life balance and general life skills and it feels really good. It’s a job that is well suited to my personality. I feel like I’m making a difference – albeit small and albeit over a relatively short period of time in these people’s lives. But it doesn’t matter. I’ve found something that works. What a joy it is to be happy going to work, to want to contribute, to be valued for what you bring to the table, to be sort after because of your vast experience. It’s something I haven’t felt in the corporate world in a long time. So in finding the perfect fit for me at this point in my life, it required that I dedicate a vast amount of time to learning the curriculum and honing my skills as a lecturer.
The second reason is that my twins are growing into little people and that has bought with it lots of unexpected joy. I love watching them grow and learn. They need me now in different ways than they did when they were younger. In some ways it was easier when they were little because I had time to devote to working out what I wanted to do, to explore my writing more, to work on my blog and to dream up ideas of how I wanted to spend my time when I was away from them. Now that they are four, they need me in different ways. I am becoming the conduit for them to transition from toddlers to pre-schoolers and to soon be preppies. It’s a big learning curve for us all and I am helping them navigate the big wide world. I’ve come to see that this perhaps is my purpose in this life – to be their mother, to help them transition, to give them to the skills to embrace change, to navigate the world around them and to understand this crazy emotional ride we are all on. Soon they will be at school and I have no idea what challenges lay ahead but what I’ve come to realise is that they need me and I need them and I can’t have a career that has no room to accommodate the changing needs of our family.
The third reason is that my mother got very sick at the end of last year and as with any traumatic, life altering experience, I have been significantly changed by what has happened. A little bit of the sparkle has gone out of our lives as she (and us) learn to cope with this new reality. It is such a cliché to say that you never know what is around the corner and that things like this put into perspective what is truly important but it is all true. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful that she is still here (in whatever state that may be) and that spending time on what is truly important is the greatest gift and something I will never take for granted again.
The final reason why I’ve been a little distracted from this space is that I have found myself questioning so much of what I thought I believed and had espoused here on the blog. I’ve questioned what the point of writing and sharing is when there is little or no engagement. I did a lot of soul searching as to what I wanted this space to achieve, to provide and to impart. I had always thought that everyone had a purpose in this life and that in order to have a fulfilling career, you had to find your purpose and make a living out of your passion. Now I’m not so sure I believe this anymore. It takes more than just passion and commitment to make your dreams come true. You also need a safety net, flexibility, support, and time. There has got to be a plan in place first before it has a chance to become reality. And not everyone is in a position to have all of that. That’s not to say that you cannot create it if you truly want it badly enough but it’s condescending and naïve to try to just tell people to ‘go and do what you love and the rest will take care of itself’. Some people have passions and don’t have any desire to turn them into fully fledged, paying careers and that’s totally fine. In fact, it’s more than fine. If that decision has been your choice, then bravo. Maybe working in your current job means you can pursue your passions outside of work with a vengeance. Maybe working in a ‘job’ enables you to fund what you truly love.
In a recent article entitled “Putting Work in Its Place”, Kate Kiefer Lee writes “The myth of the calling leads people to believe that if they answer the call, they’ll reach some sort of creative enlightenment that transcends work and transforms their life”. She goes on to say that people evolve and passion can be transient which is so very true. I’ve been passionate about things in the past that no longer rate a mention in my current life. Dreams change, life gets complicated or takes a different path than the one you envisioned. The key is to embrace it, to expect the unexpected and try to find meaning in whatever it is you are choosing to do at any given time.
There is no doubt that the business of being an entrepreneur is hard work. There are a million new blogs starting up every week, new start-ups are taking shape and launching into this new world every minute of every day. In order to be seen and heard, you have to hustle and hustle hard. And truth be told, it doesn’t really sit well with me. I’m not a hustler. I’m not a sales person. I have no idea about sales funnels or how they work. There is no doubt that if you are absolutely certain that this is the path you want to take and you’re willing to put in the long hard slog then kudos. Go for it I say. But I don’t have that kind of drive at this point in my life. That’s not to say that it might not reappear at some point in the future but right now, as I keep stripping away at the layers of expectation and stories, what I really want to do is just write and teach. No expectations, no ulterior motive, no reason beyond the pure pleasure of just putting my thoughts on a page or contributing to the lives of my students as they embark on their own journeys.
Now that I’m finding my groove with the teaching and lecturing, and now that my kids are more independent, I’m finding some space for myself and questioning once again how it is I want to spend my time. Is it pushing some online course or some marketing sales funnel to get people to join my email list? Not likely at this point. Is it networking or pitching or collaborating? No thanks.
I’ve found that it’s the writing that brings me the greatest joy and that there doesn’t have to be an agenda attached to that. I can just write for the sake of it about anything that captures my interest without any expectation in return. It’s just writing for writing’s sake, for the pure joy of it, the pure joy of seeing words on the page. I want to write about what I want to write about rather than trying to work out whether it fits with the theme of my blog/business. So you are likely to see some changes here on the blog and on my website as I refine my message and work out where this wild ride is taking me. I’m taking the pressure off myself and just being okay with wherever change is taking me.