This has been a long time coming but the stars are aligned for a change in my life; changes in work patterns, changes in work place and changes in where and how I live. None of this will happen overnight, but I am putting in place the processes that I need to take in order to effect these changes.
So what has precipitated it all now? A cluster of things, not necessarily huge individually but when considered in total add up to the fact that I should stop whinging and moaning to myself about issues I don’t like and take action.
I’ll just give a brief summary of some of the catalysts:
- Physical. My weight is increasing alarmingly, my body is stiffening and my hair is falling out. This last factor is particularly distressing as new hair is not growing. I am developing female pattern baldness. I consulted a dermatologist yesterday about treatment options and one of the first questions that he asked was ‘Has there been much stress in your life lately?’ Sure has. A combination of stress and genetics is prompting my more visible sections of scalp. It is unlikely that I will stimulate more hair growth but hopefully I can stop it falling out. I have been warned that it will get worse before it starts to get better. I want more time to exercise and to de-stress.
- My job is on a path to nowhere. It pays well for what I do, but I feel sidelined and marginalised and have reached a point where my self-belief is being eroded. I work for a micro-manager and that is very stressful. The senior person in my section withholds information and meaningful work. A couple of times in recent months, I have been told that I am a ‘good girl’ on completing a task. I am the oldest person in the team and at approaching 60 am no longer a girl. As a survival tactic, I withdraw to a degree at work and don’t ‘engage’. I know that this is to my detriment in my manager’s assessment of my abilities. Having held quite senior roles and responsibilities before however, being fed menial tasks only (or those that are incredibly problematic ) is very demoralising. I don’t want to work in this environment any more.
- I recently applied for a newly created role. At the company’s insistence, I had my interview the morning after returning from an overseas flight and so was very jet-lagged but even so felt that I had acquitted myself well. I have not been advised of the outcome, but am reasonably sure that a young man has been given the job instead. I have an appointment for an interview de-brief next week. Applying for this role, one for which I feel that I am very suited, was one way of taking a lateral step out of my current situation, even though it was still working with the same team. If I am right in my belief that I have not been successful, then it will be a strong message to me that there is a limited future for me within the company, except in my current tightly controlled and frustrating position. Time to open my parachute and make the jump.
- Last year I explored the opportunities for a more flexible working environment, such as a nine-day fortnight. I was quite prepared to work longer on those nine days to make up the time, but this was not acceptable to my manager and in fact he sees this discussion as an indication that my focus is not totally on the company. The company pays lip-service to the concept of a flexible workplace but as I have seen, some can take advantage of this and some can’t. I want more work-life balance.
- I feel that my creative and entrepreneurial spirit is being stifled. This is not fun, and I have a reasonable belief that there is more to life than this. I can’t sit at that pokey little desk much longer. Most of the time I am dreaming of what I would rather be doing. I want to put the drive and enthusiasm back into my day.
- My father is in his late nineties. His health is deteriorating and I would like to spend more time with him. Time with my Dad is short.
- My house is quite large. I love the amenity that I created when I built it but I am a slave to the house and garden. A large gum tree in an adjoining back yard is sucking all moisture out of the soil and is causing significant movement in one corner of the house that will have ongoing ramifications, especially for my hip pocket. I am continually having to clean gutters and sweep up leaves and bark around the entire house. I can’t cope with all the maintenance issues on my own, either from a time or financial perspective. (‘What?’ I hear you say. ‘Doesn’t’ young Donald help?’ SNORT) I want my time back for me.
Probably my recent trip to Norway chasing the Northern Lights stirred things up but they didn’t really need much stirring. There was an appropriate quotation that I read yesterday:
At any given moment you have the power to say that this is not how the story is going to end.
Working in a dead end job for turkeys, being miserable and being a slave to a pile of bricks and mortar is not how this story is going to end. I am going to sell the house before the structural issues become critical. I will rent while I look around for another property, probably a development site. I will take my time but will design a house that suits my needs into the future. It will be functional and sustainable but will also have spiritual corners. The lessons that I learnt from building this house will be applied to the next house. It will be an exciting exercise.
I have some things to do first though. I am building a front fence and have a development application before Council at the moment. Once that is completed, I will work on the front garden and landscaping and get that into shape. There will also be some repainting, oiling the deck and timbers and a few things like that. Not sure if I will sell via auction or via private treaty but will probably sell it myself. I have sold my previous properties myself.
The other issue to address is that of gainful employment, and this one is trickier. I would like to generate a comparable income, but more flexibly and possibly through self-employment or through doing contract work.
The role that I applied for was as Community Engagement Manager and I could pursue work in this area, either as a contractor or for another organisation. It is work that I have been doing without the title.
There are a host of other ideas that are percolating, ranging from being a private investigator, freelance writer, increasing my celebrancy activities and pursuing an option as a training provider. Or a combination of various options. Many years ago, I supplied and built modular housing under contract and I loved this job. Perhaps I can do that again. Whatever I do, it will be something with self-respect.
I will leave at a time of my choosing, and will use the interval to undertake research and test the options. I shall chart this journey as it happens.