First of all, apologies for the gap between this article and my previous one. Far too long, but on the plus side, the delay was due to me being exceptionally busy.
Hard to imagine that after deciding to leave my job, I’m putting some of the skills I picked up there to good use.
Over the last month, I reckon I’ve put in over 150 hours into researching for, and preparing to deliver a presentation. Yesterday, I finally stood up in front of a well-informed group and spoke for an hour about American Army connections with my home town of Carrickfergus during the Second World War, and the early months of the US Rangers, who were activated in this town as a new elite force in June 1942.
The session was well received by those in attendance. Their appreciation was much welcomed, but for me, just getting through the event without losing my train of thought or stumbling over names and date was the best feedback of all.
I only started researching the topic in November of last year, so I was concerned that the problems I had encountered since my mini-stroke would prevent information from bedding into my brain. I needn’t have worried. With minimal reference to my notes, all went to plan.
Talk about being chuffed with myself!
One of the reasons I chose to leave my previous job was my own perception that I was struggling to keep stuff in my head. I now think Homer Simpson was partially right when he said “every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain.” In my case, I think it was the reverse. The more old stuff I have in my brain, the less new stuff I can learn.
Leaving work seems to have enabled me to spring clean my memory cells. Stuff I needed to keep to the forefront for work purposes has gradually been pushed further into the distance, leaving space for my new interests.
Too late to do anything about it now, but in hindsight I think I took my job too seriously. It was THE most important thing to me for a very long time. I would gladly do some extra thinking, reading, researching while at home. I would volunteer to join any working group, offer to deliver presentations to any group, and try to enthuse those around me. I let my work define who I was, or thought I was. I had a significant work/life imbalance. Not forced on me, purely my own misguided choice.
I realise that work is important, but it needs to be proportionate and put into context within the rest of your life. By all means work hard when in the company’s time, but keep enough of a gap between that and your own space. Don’t let your job clutter your brain. Keep some space clear for your home self.
“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.” – Hillary Clinton