Somehow, my departure from government, turned into a rather enjoyable period of reflection. Perhaps it was the general lack of pants-wearing, perhaps it was the absence of a structure that caused me to question my own sanity daily. Nevertheless, the time to breathe, to read, to write, to pause – was all invaluable in regaining some level of zen.
The period was also spent reflecting on the question – what next?
To this I had many answers, some reflections of my past employment failures and lessons learnt – others aspirational in nature. I wanted to find employment that gave me meaning and purpose, an agile environment filled with smart people, a place where I could make a difference.
I hoped that opportunity would be a Tesla, or a Google, but hey everyone dreams of being a rock star – they just weren’t answering calls for my particular skill set at this particular time.
Instead of getting responses to my love letters to Elon Musk, instead I got offers out of the blue that left me wondering – why do these people even want to hire me? First tentative messages expressing interest, then full fledged offers – 9 of them in total, and trying to decide which one was the best for me was a significant challenge.
I mulled endlessly, made pro and con lists. Scrapped that and moved onto building equations trying to figure out the best outcome, or mixture of outcomes. Some of the factors were things like happiness, opportunity to make an impact, can this work with my partner and her career, is it possible to have a life in addition to this job?
Odd as this is to say, I’m going back to government. The National Research Council made me an interesting offer to work in the quantum photonics unit to commercialize their research in a business development capacity. A cool and interesting opportunity, a fantastic team, and whole lot of brilliant coworkers. It’s a chance to do something different from my past that’s bound to be challenging and interesting for the foreseeable future.
In addition, I also started a consulting company during my period of relaxation taking on brand strategy and digital engagement consulting. Yes, I fully recognize that most sane people would never have included this paragraph… but it’s still me.
While I would have been fascinated to join a startup, or just fly overseas for an employment opportunity in the long-term, this offered the best balance to build a life with someone, and hopefully one day a family, as opposed to being Peter Pan.
Funnily enough it was being unemployed that made the decision in many ways. Since for so many reasons, the past two months have taught me that the most valuable variable I possess was time. The startup would have been super awesome… and 100 hours a week, with similar hours for the multinational.
Building a life, a family, a relationship, and friendships – all take time. It is only in the absence of such a critical variable that you can then regret and resent the best of jobs – which is why I took the job that offered me the best opportunity to maximise my quality time spent both at the job, and outside it.
Odd decision to many, but for someone who has worked for years and many weeks in the 100 to 120 hours of work a week, you learn to value how you spend your time.