Where were you on the afternoon of Monday March 26th 2012?
All sounds a bit like a police interrogation, but I dare say that most of you will confirm that you were actually doing something fairly normal.
The reason I ask is that at that precise moment, I was shutting down my laptop with a flourish at the end of my final presentation in Australia. A symbolic action that provided a suitable full stop to my lengthy Australian career and marked a temporary cessation of my working life.
I remember a few years ago a wise and experienced work colleague called Jeff telling me that he strongly believed that everyone should have one or two periods in their life when they take time out from their careers.
(For the purposes of this post, let’s leave aside childbirth/maternity leave from Jeff’s theory – I can’t remember quite how he fitted that issue into the argument. Or indeed if he did)
He described these as times when people should go into freefall without a looming new job start date to cloud the issue.
His belief was that only by doing this will you truly have the chance to cleanse the mind and think objectively about what you really want to do in the next chapter of your life.
He also advocated taking sufficient time away from the treadmill to make sure your next role was the best option for you and not merely the first one to come your way.
(Now I appreciate that more often than not, economic necessities get in the way a bit here, but I do think that the principle has a lot of merit. Well, it has certainly stuck in my mind for over a decade)
Following Jeff’s advice, I have treated my relocation as a chance to do my own bit of freefalling – so far, it is ten weeks and counting since that meeting out in North Ryde and I’m feeling regenerated by the experience.
Over the last few weeks, I have started to peep out from under the blankets and have a few work-related conversations and just about everyone I have spoken to seems to empathise with that line of thinking. “Take your time” they typically advise me.
Indeed, one senior executive told me about the time he was retrenched with an 18 month pay-off and intended to take a similar approach, only to panic after a few weeks and was working again inside 2 months. He said he now regretted not taking more time out.
In today’s fast changing working environment, it is likely that many of us will be faced with periods of time when we are not working, often not through our own choice.
Whilst easier said that done, I believe that the challenge is to try to look upon this change in circumstances as a rare opportunity to take stock and reinvent ourselves. As a recent Marketing Week article suggested, such a jolt could even be good for your career.
As for me, at the moment, I’m really enjoying having the chance to chat to lots of interesting people in my industry without a specific agenda or timeframe. I’m confident that the right opportunity will present itself at the right time and somehow, I’ll just know that’s what I should be doing next.
Failing that, anyone know how you go about selling ads on a blog?