I feel excited about my career prospects for the first time in a long time. More specifically, since about this time 3 years ago when I first realised that maybe I could do something much more exciting with my job than purely sitting in a big office all day, and applied to be a resort accountant in an Alpine ski resort. That fateful day, when I submitted my application, kicked off one of the most exciting adventures of my life – it led to me achieving several life list goals and spreading my wings, and was a chapter of my life that was one of the happiest I can remember. I lived abroad, developed my language skills, learned that I have what it takes to successfully financially manage a small business, independently work on my own from home and adapt on the fly to a highly challenging environment. And I loved it.
As I made that decision, I really wasn’t entirely sure it was a wise thing to do, but it felt right. Logically speaking, I would earn much less money than my sensible, safe banking job. I would have to turn my entire life upside down to move abroad for 6 months, including leaving the lovely, affordable home I had fortuitously found at the peak of my personal debt crisis, and indeed putting back the date of me finally repaying all that debt by another 6 months. I would be moving to a place full of perfect strangers, and would be at least partially career-dependent on a bunch of potentially flaky teenagers and ski-bums. On paper, it was a horrible choice for my career, and some people including my beloved Dad thought I was nuts and it was too risky. But a surprising number of people expressed envy at the freedom of my choice, and I followed the excited, fizzing sensation in my gut and the swelling feeling in my heart that told me yes.
Several years on, things have changed somewhat but I’m still not fully satisfied. I’ve done two winter seasons and they were great, but ultimately not the long term solution to my career I’d hoped for. I’ve now swapped to contracting, which definitely ticks a few more boxes but it’s still not right. I think for the longest time I’ve known I felt dissatisfaction with my career, but doing the work on dealing with my emotional eating has really bought it uncomfortably to the forefront. The problem is I’ve had no idea what to do to solve it.
A couple of weeks ago, I spent some time visualising what my dream job would look like, and it looked awesome, but sadly not in any way realistic. I mean, I’m sure companies exist out there like it, but to find a job combining the qualities I’m looking for, a salary I can afford to live on now, and in Bristol because I don’t really want to move from here ... well, let’s just say my weekly single Euromillions Lucky Dip looks more promising.
Something cool is happening now though. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve been thinking about it honestly, admitting my hopes and fears when it comes to my career, and being open to the possibilities, but I feel like one of those possibilities is growing into being Something. Something that makes my insides fizz with excitement again and makes me shout a great big instinctual yes! inside. In fact, I feel a bit like a scientist that realises that they’ve been looking at the confusing evidence all wrong, and if they re-arrange it something startlingly clear and completely different emerges. I’ve been looking at the problem from the conventional wisdom of seeking a single job to satisfy all of my needs. What if the answer isn’t one single job. What if it’s two (or more!) strands of what I’m good at, all woven together to make a flexible satisfying whole?
Even writing this down and putting it out there feels like a great big “eeeek”. I mean what if it’s too much? What if I freak out and retreat back into my shell and don’t believe I can do it? What if it’s yet another thing that I get all excited about and then it all fizzles out? But I do have two actual career strands in mind, one of which is a natural extension of what I’ve already been doing all my working life and the other is .... not. The other is way out there, totally outside my comfort zone, but something that definitely intrigues me. Something I would need to train and study for and make a real commitment to but I can very seriously imagine myself doing. Something that has ironically been suggested on every single personality or career test I’ve ever taken.
The funny thing is it was the way-outside-the-comfort-zone strand that came to me first, but one of my biggest fears that has held me back has been stepping away completely from my financial career – I trained 4 years for it after all, and there are aspects of it I do still really enjoy, and what if I’m wrong and I can’t go back??? I’ve also worried that for every career I’ve thought of, I can’t imagine just doing that full time and feeling satisfied with it. I don’t seem to have the commitment to do just one thing, all of the time. But then the strangest, most reassuring thing occurred to me this week – why I can’t I be making money from more one than one thing at the same time? Why can’t I utilise two completely different skill sets in parallel to earn my way in the world? Hell, I might even find that some weird synergy ends up forming and I actually end up with a blended business coming into existence, or it might evolve into something completely different from my two potential starting points.
Even better, having two potential business plans to run side-by-side means I could potentially dip my toe into the pond gently, one thing at a time, and ease my way into it, rather than having to abandon my current career in one big, bold (terrifying) step.
For the first time in years, I feel like I have something I can aim for, and having the aim means I can start dissecting that down into A Plan. I have things I can research (I loves me a bit of research) and baby steps I can start to take towards seeing if this is something that can truly work for me. It feels both big and bold and ambitious, and yet totally more manageable and realistic than anything I’ve done yet. And it combines elements of everything that I had in my Dream Job visualisation. It feels true to me and deeply satisfying.
I couldn’t be more excited.*
*I apologise extensively for the vagueness of this post – even putting the basic concept out there and saying I want to do it feels like an almighty big first step.