2017: A new chapter in my career
“I’ll support you in any way I can, but it’s time for you to make a decision.” That’s how my wife finally ended the many conversations we’ve had over the last couple of weeks. She had a point here because all our talks circled around the same two big questions, every time: What direction do I want my career to take? And how does that align with the life I envision for myself and for us?
None of the answers that came to mind felt satisfying or right, and it took me a while to realise that I indeed had the order of my questions (and thinking) wrong. So I tried again:
What kind of life do I want to lead? And how does that align with my current (and future) career?
In terms of fleshing out our ideal way of life, we were on the same page: No to mortgage and kids (for now); yes to independence and self-sufficiency and ticking off the many items on our bucket list. With all this in mind, the logical conclusion for me was to take a leap of faith and end my employment as Business Development Manager at Waterline Projects. Sounds quite drastic, or rash even? Not once you’ve realized how much time and energy and mental capacity you need to steer your career in a direction which better accommodates a time- and location-independent way of working.
I’m sure many professionals ask similar questions at least once in the lifetime of their careers. From experience, I know it’s vital to find answers that are deserving of the time you invest into finding them. And that your answers should guide you towards a career that’s built on your talents and interests more than anything else. Expert knowledge and certificates can always be acquired through studies, online seminars, TAFE, workshops, a mentoring program. If your talents and interests aren’t part of the deal though, it’s going to be a tough ride through your working life. I know because this is what sparked the discussions with my wife in the first place.
That being said: If you are a proactive professional with bold ideas and a knack for table tennis, Waterline Projects offers pretty much everything you could ask for as an employee. You’re part of a genuinely supportive team, you’re free to choose your own methods and tools to achieve your KPIs, and you’re hit by a true start-up vibe thanks to the tight-knit collaboration with RedEye, a cloud-based data management company, next door. Overall, looking back at my experience at Waterline there is just one thing that didn’t work for me, and that’s the industry they predominantly operate in: mining. The more I learnt about it, site visits and client meetings included, the more I realised that I couldn’t develop the same passion for this sector as everyone else on my team. That’s not to say that I didn’t give it my best because I believe that every employee should respect themselves enough to perform well every day. When you learn and improve and deliver to the best of your abilities, every company you work for will value your contributions, no matter how long you stayed with them, and you can move on to your next job without regrets or ill feelings. So far, this has always worked well for me and even established lasting professional relationships with managers and team mates beyond the period of employment.
When I look at myself 5 years from now, I see a truly three-dimensional version of my professional self, with a much more complex and complimentary skill set that’s in tune with my core values and beliefs. And because getting there starts today, I will look beyond past studies and experiences when broadening my skill set, and base my decisions more so than ever before on my many interests and talents.
Step one for me: I am planning to start a high-intensity coding boot camp* within the next couple of weeks. I’ve always had an affinity with programming but I never took my basic skills to the next level until now. As life goes, one thing will lead to another which is why I’m very curious what the future holds. What I can say for sure is that this 5-years-from-now-me gets me excited. It makes me get up early in the morning energetically. It makes me complete online seminars, attend networking events outside my current industries, talk to entrepreneurs from different walks of life. And it makes my wife joyful, too, because we’re a lot closer now to ticking off another item on our bucket list.