This blog was going to start with an anecdote about running… and in the next draft I wrote, it was going to start with something my Dad once said to me.
Now it feels a bit self-indulgent, as I write about the struggles of writing. But if you stick with me, the wrestling I’ve done with this blog has actually given me a lovely insight in my journey to find out what comes after redundancy.
To sweeten the deal, I will still give you the anecdotes about running and my Dad. (Apologies in advance for the word count!)
So to backtrack, I was feeling ridiculously cheerful while I was out running earlier this week and something my Dad said to me a few years before he died came to mind.
He told me he thought I was lucky to have found my calling in life, because he didn’t think he had.
I remember challenging him about it at the time because I didn’t think his lack of a formal ‘career’ should take anything away from his many accomplishments in life.
It’s been a conversation I’ve thought about a bit over the years and I’ve also come to see my own career a little differently to him.
I don’t think I believe in having one ‘calling’ in life. It feels possible to have a number of things that call to us in life and to be able to find fulfillment from those things in a variety of different ways – both at work and in other parts of our life.
That brings me back to my first run in about six weeks.
It was less than a four kilometre jog and walk, but it left me feeling happy, more alive and it’s given me a yardstick for thinking about what I do and don’t want in the next phase of my life and career.
The reason I hadn’t been able to run was that I suffered what turns out to be a nerve issue in my right leg, in the final few painful kilometres of the Edinburgh Half Marathon.
Back in Melbourne, I’ve really missed my running, so I was only half-joking when I turned up at my third session at the physio the other day and told him: “I want to run. I need to run. I’m looking for you to give me the all-clear to get out and go for a run.”
He gave me the green light, with some caveats: only one lap of the Tan track to start, with gentle run and walk intervals.
But once I got running, I didn’t want to stop. Even though I could feel the nerve niggling, I could easily have kept running – because I was enjoying it. A lot.
I didn’t keep going, but the point is this: I know when I have a passion for something, because despite any challenges, I have the drive to do it above other needs. Just like:
• I spent hours on Sunday delving through my music collection to pick some new songs, download the sheet music and try them out when what I really needed to do was clean my house,
• When I’ve stayed up after midnight to finish DIY renovation projects on my house when I really needed some rest, and
• When I sat blogging in the wee small hours of the morning quite a few times when I should have been sleeping in Scotland and Spain, because the rest of the day was so full.
When something has meaning for you, you will be motivated to do it and it doesn’t feel like work at all.
On the flipside, you may do what I found myself doing at one stage this week. Like a flashback from my university days, suddenly cleaning my house from top to bottom did feel like the most pressing priority, well above the updates that I need to do to my resume. Does anyone actually enjoy working on those things, by the way?
I now realise that the reason I was finding this blog so hard to write was because I started trying to force myself to reach conclusions about some of the big questions related to this break in my career.
Here’s where my Dad was right. I have found enormous enjoyment and satisfaction in my work over the years.
But my career has already consisted of two related, but distinct parts – first journalism and then public relations / communications. What’s to say there isn’t something else out there that I can do that would be more meaningful and fulfilling to me? Now there’s a first world question, but the developing world might have some answers.
I do know that writing this blog over recent weeks has been another reminder of the kind of creativity that I have missed so much from my days in journalism.
As to what else I want and don’t want to do next, I still have time and travels ahead, so I’m not going to force the answers.