I’m on Cortes Island this week – a couple hours north of the island I live on, and I’m amazed at how much quieter it is here. A quarter of the population, at least double the landmass, and much further from major cities. I feel very far away from home even though the views (ocean, mountains, arbutus trees) are much the same. The friend I am travelling with has been coming here for many decades, and knows all the good places to hike and kayak. She found a perfect rental suite for us, and then it turned out that (happy coincidence!) one of my Zen friends also lives on the property in her bus, high upon the bluff.
I didn’t post here last week because I was preparing to go on holiday, and also in discussion about the possibility of a new job in September. The paperwork isn’t signed yet, but it looks pretty real and thinking about the shift has occupied my whole mind since last Monday. Job change is no small thing for me; I’ve been with the same organization for 23 years, and worked with one of the Communications shops (though in different roles) for my whole career. While this job is in the same organization, it will be in a different line of work entirely, and with more responsibility than I’ve had in awhile.
I’ve been looking for a change for a couple of years now, and since my manager returned to work a couple of months ago (I had been acting in her position for the better part of a year), trying to plot my next move. Difficult to do when I don’t have certain qualifications (like another language), or when some of my most developed skillset comes from my union role and not my official work capacity (some people consider union leadership an asset, others won’t touch it at all). But I do have a network of people after all of these years, and that suddenly panned out in the form of a new program someone I know is responsible for.
Over the course of my career I have often wished that way back when I started out in my mid-twenties someone close to the end of their career had sat me down and explained a few things. About career arcs, and how to manage them over the long term. About understanding career development over decade-long cycles, not 6-month leadership programs. About the divisions between junior, intermediate, and senior levels – and how to work from one point to the next. I suppose these days, few people stay with one organization for thirty-five years and so mostly we are left to library books and career consultants to figure it out. For my part, I’ve managed to move into a new project or role every five years or so, even though my career planning has been haphazard and frustrated at many turns.
I’m in the last decade or so of the employment stage of my life. I could go in 6 years (at 55), or work a few more for a bit more pension. What I decide to do about that will depend on a variety of factors. But until recently I had thought I would end my career parked in my current project management/strategic communications position. During the pandemic, I worked with others to fix a number of weak points on my current work team – developing org charts, process documents, and staffing strategies – righting a badly-listing ship as a result of those efforts. I had believed that as soon as that was all done, I would happily return to other projects and press forward in my role. But instead, things have felt a bit flat and I’ve been unmotivated in all but the most basic work. So even though I know the new role will come with more stress (new program, lots of stuff to figure out), it’s the right time to take it on. If it goes well, it will also be the right thing to keep me engaged through to retirement.
When I get back from this little island paradise I’m on, I hope to see paperwork waiting for me to sign so I can tell my team I’m leaving and start wrapping up my projects for handover at the end of August. I’m feeling more confidence about this move than nerves right now, and I’m ready to get started! I am also dying to share what little I know about the new program and my role, so as soon as that gets more contour, I’ll be shading in the details here.
It’s been a very interesting year for me career-wise, Covid changed things in ways I never expected. I’m curious to see where this goes next.