Don’t Come Monday

Now that it has finally happened, I’m feeling a bit drained and over it all. More than a year ago, my senior manager indicated that projected work was not at the level previously anticipated and that this may have in impact on the team. A few months ago, he announced the process to be undertaken for a resources review within the team. A few weeks ago, he advised me that my position would not be carried forward into the new financial year and a few days ago, he confirmed the date and details of my departure.  Because of ongoing projects, that won’t be for three months yet, but at least there is a definite date.

Some people have no notice of impending redundancy, having their work ID card and mobile phone retrieved as they are being ushered out the back door. I can’t complain about the lack of notice, nor the redundancy payout which is more than fair. Between the sudden death approach though and the painfully drawn-out process that I have experienced, there should be a realistic and compassionate compromise.

All is not lost however. For some time the joys of corporate life have not necessarily been waning but the joys of working with decreasing autonomy and increasingly restrictive policies and procedures palled a long time ago.  Most people hit a peak in their career a long way before retirement age.  From then on, the opportunities are fewer, and career moves seem to be sideways rather than forwards.  Increasingly, I have been thinking ‘Is that all there is?’ Motivation has been at an all-time low, driven only by the salary that was deposited into my account each month.

I have been planning my escape route for a while and my redundancy payment will help to fund the start-up phase.  Of course my nearest and dearest are advising that I should be taking all sorts of actions now to attempt to secure another job and not to rely on my own devices, but you know what?  I am not going to listen.

For a start, I am what would be described as a mature-aged female and I know that options for re-employment are limited.  From about 40 onwards, I found that opportunities dried up significantly.  If I think back to the times in my working career when I have been the happiest and the most engaged, it has been when I was self-employed.  My success record has been a bit erratic, but in hindsight, I can see that I was under-funded, lacking in crucial knowledge or experience and without appropriate mentors.  In spite of those impediments, I still managed to support myself.

This time, I have a wealth of life and commercial experience, and a better understanding of what I don’t know.  I am up-skilling and on a massive learning curve.  At times it seems totally over-whelming but it’s exciting too and I can’t wait to be able to devote myself to growing the business full time.

It won’t be without challenges, and I will put together a risk management plan to mitigate those.  Social isolation, demotivation, and time management are a few of the issues that I will have to address.  I am relying on planning and networking to help here, plus explaining to others that working from home is still ‘working’ and explaining to my two cats that just because I am  here through the day, does not mean that I am available to constantly refill the food bowl.

I am really interested to learn how others have tackled the career change later in life, and in particular if you have started an entirely new business.  Did you feel more confident as an encorepreneur?  What were the problems that you encountered?  Are you glad that you did it?  Tell me.

At any given moment you have the power to say that this is not how the story is going to end.

In Praise of the Entrepreneur

A few days ago, I read an article online about several bright young millennials who were feted for their entrepreneurial spirit, and rightly so for they had done well. I picked up the assumption on the part of the author that she thought that Gen Ys or the Millennials as they are also known, are a go-getter breed of entrepreneur, the likes of which have not been seen before.

Lemonade Stand

There were several reasons flagged for this by those who were interviewed within the article:

  • Millennials are not afraid to question authority;
  • They are flexible and entrepreneurial;
  • They harness new technology in the interest of getting things done easily and efficiently; and
  • They are hungry for success and have the confidence to go out on their own.

It was even said that ‘this special generation benefits from knowing how things were done before mobiles, the cloud and Google.’  (I snorted so hard my tea nearly came out my nose when I read that claim. Most millennials have never known a life without a mobile phone, or Google.) It was also noted on the negative side that Gen Ys can be impatient and too focussed on technology over face-to-face interaction.

It made me review my own businesses start-ups, the first of which was when I was 18.  It was an abysmal failure as I had no idea about marketing, location, pricing, or any of those essential details.  I had learnt a bit by the time that little enterprise folded.  My next businesses were in my twenties and they were more successful.  One, I now realise in hindsight would have probably set me up for life if I had developed it further and hadn’t sold out too soon.  I lacked formal business and financial training however and learnt on the job, often by making mistakes.  I so wish that I’d had a good mentor during those times but I was a female trespassing in traditional male spheres and the welcome mat wasn’t exactly thrown out.

The point is however, that although I am now a baby boomer, in my earlier years when I didn’t have mortgages, and a child to support and educate, I was able to act on my bright ideas.  I never saw them as taking risks, but more rising to the challenge and having a go.  I suspect that this has always been the case, and the Millennials of today are merely following in the footsteps of generations who have gone before.  With the benefit of internet-based technologies though, they are able to harness information and learnings that were not so easily accessible before.  They can contact other people online who are engaged in similar activities and set up mutually supportive networks.  They can even use crowd-funding to finance new ventures.

I have never stopped having the ideas, and have a file full of incipient business plans for the next great scheme that might just be challenging, and a bit of a winner.  An online bookshop did well for a decade, before more cashed up competition prompted its slow demise.   I also didn’t know what I didn’t know about internet marketing. Once more, I’ve learnt a lot.

Now that said child is off my hands and I have a little more financial flexibility, I can again consider the options for casting aside the corporate 9-5 and pursue some of my dreams again. I suspect that I’m not alone and that there are a few more budding seniorpreneurs working on their business start-ups.

What about it all you Gen Xs and Baby Boomers?  Has that entrepreneurial spirit spluttered and died, or are you biding your time for when you can give it a go again?  Are business start-ups the province of the young?

Looking to the future

Do you know those feelings before starting a new journey into the unknown?  There is a mixture of excitement and fear.  The excitement focusses on anticipation of the wonderful things you will see, the people you will meet and the experiences that you will have.  The fear focuses on whether you are competent enough, and how will you manage and what if you fall over?

I’m embarking on a new business venture and so am experiencing all of those thoughts and feelings.  The new venture is prompted by several things.  For a start, I am one of those people who is always coming up with new ideas.  When I was younger I just launched into them with the zest and enthusiasm of someone who was really green and didn’t know it.  I had some failures but some successes too and it taught me a lot.  I really wish that I’d had some mentors during those years of exploration and enthusiasm, but that’s another topic.

Secondly, I can see that there is no security of tenure with my current employer and redundancy is likely to come my way by the end of the financial year.  This coincides with my increasing dissatisfaction at a role that is increasingly dumbed down and diminished in content and engagement.  It is  not surprising therefore that my frustration at working in a non-supportive environment has lead to my thoughts of self-employment again.  I also recognise that this is a poor employment market for people past a certain age and if I don’t want to find myself in the clutches of Centrelink, I will need to be resourceful and to develop alternatives that are financially viable.

The third reason is that I can see a new challenge in the future and it excites me.  That doesn’t mean that I am not apprehensive about what I am proposing but the prospect of taking back control over my working life is a greater incentive than the fear is a detraction.  Right now I am in the research phase and working on my business plan and just doing this preliminary work fuels the anticipation.

Although I am not in a position to disclose full details right now, I am keen to develop relationships with other service providers, and specifically those who are not totally embedded in the youth culture.  I would not expect for instance that the copy on my webpage would contain words such as ‘totally awesome’ as my target audience will mostly come from Gen X and Baby Boomer age groups.  I will look for a copy writer who can engage with and not alienate that age group.  Likewise a brand manager, graphic designer and photographer.

Finding a mentor of course would be fantastic but jut as useful will be developing a network of people who are at a similar stage in life and perhaps starting new ventures of their own.  If that sounds like you, give me a shout.Anticipation

 

 

 

Unsubscribing my LIfe

This is it.  I am reclaiming my life.  By default, I am subscribed to so many lists.  There are supermarkets, wine companies, coupon companies, dress shops, and other retailers.  Some I may have subscribed to and my contact details have probably been purchased by other entities..

Then there are the self-help motivators, business advisers, health and wellness gurus, lifestyle advisers – whatever.  They are the most dangerous.  I tend to scan them just in case there is a pearl of wisdom hidden within the scrolled page, something that is going to make a miraculous difference to my life and that of course takes time.

You know what?  There rarely is.  What these emails are delivering under the guise of valuable content is mostly common sense, general knowledge and sometimes totally whacky.  There’s a lot of woo-woo content that slides through the in-box as well.  It has got to the point where this content is clogging up my screen to the extent where processing, scanning and deleting them is seriously compromising my time to do important things for myself – like write my next novel or work on my new business plan.

Increasingly, business communications are being delivered via email, but I sometimes overlook important information because it is buried in the general detritus. If I don’t pay an invoice on time, that is a problem.  If I miss an appointment, that is also a problem.  I know that applying rules to the in-box can divert identified emails to specific folders but to do that you have to know in advance that it is coming.

Progressively, I am hitting the un-subscribe button.  Restaurant offers – gone; camping gear – gone; travel deals – gone; happiness skills – gone; media skills – gone; the next great business seminar – gone.  It’s too soon to see the effect but I am so looking forward to an in-box that is relevant and dealt with quickly so that I can get on with my life.

I’m reclaiming.  What about you?

Fiscal Responsibility

All my life I have been sensible with money.  I’ve had to be.  Some of the early life and study choices that I made meant that I had to live at times on a very meagre salary.  With frugal living patterns, I managed to buy my first house at 22, and that of course meant that my income was even more tightly controlled.  There was little or no disposable income and so the overseas holidays, concerts and discretionary expenditure that my friends indulged in were beyond my means.  Getting a private pilot’s licence also gobbled up a lot of money in my early twenties.

It’s taken a long time, but finally I have a reasonable salary.  My son is semi-independent and and I can see my life taking new directions.  I have been making plans for all the travel that I would like to do now.  Just as this happens though, my company hits a rocky period and we know that there are redundancies coming up.  We just don’t know who.  Should I be one of those who draws the short straw, I will be in a precarious situation.  At my age and in the current abysmal employment market, my chances of getting a comparable job again are slim.  Even prospects of any job are slim.  Sadly, I don’t have the financial resources with which to take an early retirement.  Interesting times ahead.

The challenge for me now is maintaining an enforced frugality in the face of uncertainly.  On the one hand, it is not difficult in that I have the skills developed over a lifetime.   On the other, I really want to lash out on the bucket list.  I would love to commission myself a new nose, I lust after a pink Argyle diamond and most of all I want to travel.  I would like to do a Motor home trip around Tasmania, and then to do the same for New Zealand.  That is for starters.  I would also of course like the luxury of the time to write – being able to finance my literary aspirations.  At the moment, I don’t dare do any of it as I have no idea how long my resources may have to last.  If I lose my job, I may have the time to write but I will probably be too busy scrabbling for employment to be able to relax into it.

After an initial panic, I will repeat my mantra to myself.  The sun will come up tomorrow; I will have food to eat, clothes to wear and somewhere to live.  Anything else is a bonus.  I have lived through tough times before and no doubt will again.  It would be nice sometimes though if there were not so many potholes on the journey through life.  Oh, and sometimes I am not so good on the frugality.  Today I took delivery of my Canon 650D SLR Camera.  I am so looking forward to learning how to use it and of course intend to use it to illustrate some of my writings.  It looks to be a brilliant camera.

A Sort of Chrysalis

Times are a-changing.  Young Donald is still lazy and frustrating and irritating and causing me to lose my hair and at time leaving me a quivering blob of despair.  Parenting a teenage boy is never easy and even less so doing it on your own, with limited dialogue or input from another person who cares about your child as much as you do.  I know that technically, at 18 Donald is now an adult but he’s my child and always will be.

I have been concerned about many things relating to Donald.  His non-existent academic achievement, his attitude, his lack of motivation, the negative influence upon him by his girlfriend Daisy (sometimes known as Dippy Daisy).  The last twelve months have been bringing slow and subtle changes, but changes nonetheless. 

I can see that my son is slowly morphing into a more likeable human being.  I even get glimpses of the man he will become.  He is developing a sophisticated sense of humour and has a wicked appreciation of the absurd.  He is still hard work in that it is a major effort to do him to do anything – like get out of bed for instance – but I know that he is capable of doing a lot and probably will do so later.  He is observing some of the truly assinine behaviour of some of his mates and noting that it’s not a good look.  Best of all, he is thinking about things.

I was all set a week ago, spurred on by disappointment and frustration, to tell Donald that I could no longer support him and his bludging lifestyle; that he needed to either start paying Board (which would entail him finding more work than is offered by his casual role) or that he would have to leave home.  He got in first.  When I arrived home that night, Donald told me that he had been thinking and that he might travel to Western Australia to work with his father.

Ours is not a conventional family scenario.  When I decided that I wanted to have a child, even though I was still single, I asked an old friend and lover if he would assist me to do this.  Although living on the other side of the country, he agreed and after flying to see me and discuss it further, left a sperm donation with a fertility clinic, the result of which was ultimately my son.  There were two stipulations that I made: that financial responsibility would be all mine; and that I wanted him to acknowledge any resulting child as his.  It was important to me that a child could know who his or her father was.  There was agreement on both these issues.

Donald has had minimal contact over the years with his father, due the tyranny of distance and more recently, a lack of interest.  I gave him the option of what to call this man, and Donald chose Dad or Father.  Knowing them both, I can see a lot of similarities between them.  I know that they are father and son (always a worry when using donor sperm).  This man (I shall call him Duncan) has maintained a regular interest in his son (and seventh child) though has never actively sought greater involvement.  The offer was always there for Donald to spend school holidays with him but it only happened twice.  Donald wasn’t really interested and I didn’t push it.

Duncan works in the building trade, and has always said that he will find work for Donald if that is what he wants.  Work, being a four-letter word, was not terribly appealing to Donald and he always dismissed the suggestion with a degree of horror.  How could I even think such a thing.  Hard, physical grunt work with long hours.  Shudder.

Now suddenly, this is an option to Donald.  It caught my breath a bit as it would mean that he really was leaving home, even though possibly for a short time.  It would mean though taking responsibility for himself and having to honour commitments to the work environment; having to contribute and organise himself and to earn a living.  It will be an opportunity for him to test himself and to learn what he is capable of.  He might even develop a relationship with his father.  I doubt that it will ever be a traditional father-son relationship but at least they will get to know each other better.  I am pleased about this because there has been minimal male influence in my son’s life.

The other issue that I am relieved about is that Donald has finally recognised that his relationship with Daisy did not have many benefits and has ended it.  He has tried to do this a few times already but never made a clean break and things got messy and then sort of resumed.  He has learnt a lot during this relationship, and I think will be a little more discerning when entering into the next.  I know that Daisy will be devastated, as I think that Donald is a dependable influence in her life and she has come to rely on that.   I fully understand though why Donald feels that it is a relationship that has run its course.

*****

Donald had his wisdom teeth extracted today also.  I was also concerned about this as he is seriously needle phobic.  The procedure was done in the chair, but with IV sedation prior to have the local anaesthetics applied to  all four extraction sites.  The surgeon and the anaesthetist were professional and caring in their treatment of Donald (I remained for the sedation) but I was impressed with his determination to cope with the first needle that he has submitted to in many years.

Ripples on my Pond

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?’  SNORTI 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.