At some point, before January is out, I hope I’ll be able to write reflections on 2019, and the decade. At least I have taken the time to reflect on the decade on Instagram stories- because it really was quite something. But, for me, December 2019 also saw the end of a chapter which spanned eighteen years. Whilst it was a near-perfect ending, it’s been massive.
Eighteen years ago I saw the end of a chapter when I left a company I had worked at for seven-years. A job which had allowed me to move from Wales to England. But it was unintentionally time for a massive career change.
Job searching in 2000 was the early days of the internet. Searching for jobs on Monster specialising in training ended up with me being offered a job where I wouldn’t train anyone. But it would result in me landing on my feet for which there is so much to be grateful. I pledged to stay three years to get something substantive on my CV and move on to another chapter.
It didn’t work out that way. Everything changed. The checklist of what happened between 2001 and 2019 isn’t one which could have been scripted. There’s been wonderful highlights- colleagues becoming friends, leaving then returning; friends dispersing from Wales, couplings and relocations full circle back to Wales. There’s been the times which have tested every part of my being- colleagues becoming friends and taking team members to tribunals; managers behaving in ways you couldn’t make up; redundancies, redundancies and more redundancies.
So, it is the end of a chapter. And I couldn’t be more grateful for the past eighteen years. I have gained qualifications and an MBA; experienced so much in six jobs; and moved across six counties and had seven places to call home.
In my final months I was fortunate to be at a workshop with a colleague I’ve known for fifteen years who gave me a good talking to about not letting one (really bad) experience at work stop me appreciating the good friendships which make work possible. And I hope, I’ve left with some good friends, no matter how socially awkward I had become.
I also left with pieces falling into place.
I promised myself a new chapter; that I wouldn’t have a role too close to the role I held. Too often over the years, colleagues have left and gained roles so close in breadth that their distaste for the organisation which had employed them became palpable. I have (overall) loved my job, and I don’t want to become resentful.
I have learned and seen that networking is the best way of securing a new role. But it wasn’t for me on a number of levels. I needed to leave and be far enough away to appreciate, on a surface level (or greater), the good work continuing. That the pieces of the jigsaw I’ve been responsible for be successful within the big picture.
It wasn’t easy, I don’t have a specialism. And fortunately it would transpire that ‘networking’ of sorts would be my saviour. In my final week at work I accepted a job offer in a completely new sector, specialising in one of my skill sets.
And so, whilst everyone, including me, thought I would be talked into staying (again), I’ve left.
Eighteen years done.
And it’s been odd. I’ve never not worked. Since 14, I’ve been in continuous employment.
1st January 2020 I began my first stint in unemployment. I knew it was only temporary but it’s still a new experience.
And it’s psychological more than anything.
I’ve had to make sure every day I’ve done something.
Regrouped with friends and family, organised parties and birthday meals.
Sorted my hair, my tax return, kitchen plans, holiday plans, mortgage intent.
Because in all of this. I needed to move on.
Eighteen years is a long, long time.
And not only did my organisation act as a cheerleader in my last months. Letting me sort the things I really wanted to achieve; offering advice, guidance and friendship. But there was an incentive to leave.
I can start a new chapter and unlike most I am grateful for my comfort blanket.
I’m not sure the new chapter will be of an eighteen-year duration. But my track record means never say never.