It’s getting to that time of year when the Out of office goes on with an automatic reply that goes something like:
‘ Hi, I am currently on leave until 4th January and will respond upon my return. If urgent please contact email@example.com in my absence.’
However, for daily blogging there is no break or time off unless posts are pre-written in advance.
And sometimes that can be challenging when you want time to plan what direction to take things in the future or just want to take a break.
There is no out of office for daily blogging and once you start you commit to never being able to take time off.
It can feel daunting but it isn’t all bad because there is so much to gain from committing to a writing practice every single day.
When it comes to future plans we often forget the reason behind the paths we choose.
We know what we want, when we want it and what it will take but we forget the reason why we want it.
A common example is career paths. A person may want to become a nurse in the next 3 years after they complete studying which will require time, effort, patience and dedication.
The reason the person wants to pursue that particular path, may have once been clear but now is somewhat of a mystery.
It’s only until something happens that this person then remembers that it is because they want to help people. Or maybe, when they were younger a nurse took care of them and they decided that they wanted to be able to do that for other people.
If we now take it back to more general ‘future plans’, I think knowing why you want to do something is important. It could be travel plans, moving to a new country or trying a new activity. Sometimes even though we know what we want to do we get complacent and put things off . And so knowing what to do is often not enough for you to get things done.
However, knowing why you want to do something gives you a pretty good reason to do it.
In a recent conversation where two people were giving career advice, I noticed a wide gap between their perspectives.
The first person spoke about doing something you were interested in, gaining a qualification and working hard to be a specialist in your field.
The second person just spoke about picking a career in a field where jobs were widely available.
The first person was focused on achievent whilst the second was focused on fear.
Based on the kind of life that I want, if I had to pick one of the two pieces of advice, I’d go with the first persons.
As much as stability is important so is enjoying (or at least liking) what you do.
Most of us have at some point looked back on our life and perhaps not wished but thought about what would have happened if we took a different path.
If you applied for that job in another city.
If you moved out of your family home sooner or maybe done it later.
If you started that project when you first had the idea instead of sitting on it for months.
If you didn’t settle for what the people around you told you to do for a career.
If you hadn’t been willing to accept so little from the people around you.
When you’re not happy with where you’re at, looking back on the choices you’ve made will rarely make you happier. But you do it because you feel like it’s too late to start over.
It might not be true but that’s how it often feels.
When you’ve set yourself up on a particular path, starting over and changing the course of your life feels too risky. It feels like all that came before was time wasted.
But if you want to give yourself the opportunity to be happier and more fulfilled, then perhaps starting over might be one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Turns out that the 9-5 isn’t as necessary as it once was.
With everything going on in the world meetings are becoming emails or being done by video, travel has come to a halt and working from home may become the non-optional office alternative.
Despite the unfortunate situation that has caused things to change, I can’t help but notice that there is something to learn.
As someone that works in an office less than 50% of what I do requires me to be in the building or to interact with my co-workers.
But I can imagine a time when people used typewriters or even computers that you couldn’t physically take home. Back then, being in your office was necessary to undertake your work.
These days all you need is a laptop and you can use that anywhere.
I’m not championing no longer having an office at all. However, I do think it is worth exploring how often you actually need to be in the company office and the purpose that it serves.
For many it’s the social aspect of going to the kitchen for tea and a catch up with a work pal, it’s meeting people when you’re new to the city, it’s having a space to work for those with limited room at home or those wanting to maintain separation between work and life.
Having an office to go to isn’t necessary for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week but it does come with benefits.
It introduces us to new people, gives us a routine and gives us the opportunity to be part of a culture.
You might feel frustrated but all is not lost.
In a previous post I wrote about job satisfaction and I thought it might be useful to delve into some practical tips. It’s all good and well telling someone what to do but it’s sometimes helpful to tell them how.
So, let’s say you work in an office and your manager is not much help with anything that you need help with. It could be about the work you do or maybe even career progression etc.
What do you do?
It probably gets frustrating but it’s always useful to remember that you always have options.
First up, ask for what you want/need?
Ask confidently, ask a second time.
Don’t be afraid to call people out (politely) when they don’t follow through after assuring you that they’d do xyz.
If you feel like it’s not working, ask someone else.
Chances are even though a manager is their as a main point of call, there’ll be someone else that can help you and someone else that will.
Lastly don’t expect too much from people.
Yes, ask for help when you need it but don’t be reliant on others to drive your ship, they have their own stuff to do too.
Or at least trying to be.
I remember being around 16 or 17 telling a classmate about my writing hobby and that I had thought of doing it as a career. At the time I was pretty lost with regard to career plans and my civil engineering dream was becoming less and less likely.
My classmate on the other hand was an excellent academic – who went on to study medicine.
He told me (in a roundabout way) that sometimes when you try to turn your hobby into your career it ruins it.
At the time I think I said something like yeah you’re right. But in my head I thought but I wanna be a writer and over half a decade later I still think that.
However, despite wanting to be a writer, I’m now 2 years into a career in transport. For the most part, I’m pretty happy with where I’m at and that has made me realise that more than wanting to be a writer what I really want is to write.
And I do write.
When you’re a kid you think that 21 is grown up. You think that by that age you’ll have everything figured out, that you’ll have met your life partner and that you’ll suddenly be this proper adult with a career…
But then you get to that age and you don’t quite feel how you thought you would.
Is this what its like to be an adult?
That’s the kind of question you ponder regularly. You might even have a professional job in a fancy office but you still feel like a kid in a classroom. But you have colleagues, deadlines, meetings, projects, clients and a work phone with a company branded case. You have all that yet you still feel like you’re playing dress-up and pretending to be professional.
Perhaps some would refer to this as imposter syndrome but you can call it whatever you want really. Often the only way to cure this feeling/mindset is to tell yourself that it will go once you achieve a particular goal. Once you gain accreditation in your field or lead a project.
But moving the benchmark probably won’t work because it’s a mind thing not a physical thing. It’s about how you feel about yourself and your ability.
My advice would be (to quote Sinek) start with why. Why do you feel that way about yourself? Once you understand that, it’s just a case of implementing a new mindset.
I’ve never been a career person. But I’ve always thought I had a purpose, some thing I was meant to do. I have no idea what that was meant to be.
I don’t have any particular talents outside of daydreaming, keeping a journal and being an ideas person although they are things I’ve been doing for over 10 years so perhaps they are merely practices rather than talents.
But I was work bound a few days contemplating my purpose in life knowing that it couldn’t have been the building I was heading to for the day.
I started thinking about how there’s little chance of me achieving much if I stay in this very limiting box that I often put myself in as a result of being anxious.
I’m much more out of the box than I used to be but what I’m learning is that your purpose, your joy whatever that thing is for you in life will only be found when you’re being your true self.
A sign that you might be in the wrong job is how you feel when you take time off.
Is the work break like an escape from your dreary everyday reality that you dread going back to. Or is it time to relax and recharge but you actually look forward to going back.
Career happiness is incredibly important to me so I think about this sort of thing quite a lot.
We spend so much time at work that I think that it’s important that we like going to work, that we don’t dread Mondays and that we get some sort of joy from the thing we do to earn a living whatever it may be.