Congratulations, if you are reading this you survived the first week of 2016! It wasn’t so hard now was it? We all felt the same pain getting out of bed last week to return to work in the New Year, but we’ve made it to the weekend in no time at all, scarily quick in fact. It shows how fast time flies and hat’s why I am determined to make every moment of 2016 count. I’ve realised this week though that does not mean saying yes to every opportunity that comes my way.
I’ve had a fabulous week, what a great start to the year! Work went well, projects I’m working on are going well and I feel very positive about the year ahead. Over the past year I’ve had my ups and downs at work. I wasn’t really sure that I was prepared to stick at it. I’ve been in my job for four years now and I never planned in my career that I would end up here. Funnily enough I’m perhaps almost where I planned I would be, just not in the same role but part of me believes I’m in a better one. When I was at uni all I could focus on was that I wanted to study Greek.
Greek – are you crazy?
Not at all – well ok perhaps a little to base my entire career on it. I wanted to be a teacher when I was younger. Greek. I don’t know what I was thinking. I couldn’t really see past those four years at university, which for me turned out to be just the one year. Writing was always my passion and what I figured I would always make my money from one day. You can’t live on pipe dreams though so when I returned home from uni I had to get a job that paid.
My first full time job took me into buying baby equipment – from breast pumps to walkers, prams and moses baskets to bath supports and car seats. I had to learn it all, much to my dad’s horror when Mother & Baby magazine became my evening read of choice. I loved the products, I loved the customers but I couldn’t have stayed there, I was so bored. I job hunted for a while and back then pre-recession and sitting pretty in a job, I had the luxury of picking and choosing.
My next job was until now the favourite. I worked in a claims handling centre dealing with uninsured loss recovery. There were twelve of us and we had a ball. Sure there were stressful times but the camaraderie between us made hard calls just that little bit easier. I was gutted when Head Office decided to close us down, as a satellite office we didn’t stand a chance and at the age of 24 I found myself redundant.
Luckily I had made a name for myself amongst local solicitors and hire car agencies and the job offers came flooding in. Once again I had the luxury of picking and choosing where I headed. I chose the underdog, the new outfit, rising like a phoenix out of the ashes from the old call centre. My old boss was to set up on his own. He wanted me to head it up and so began perhaps the craziest, hardest and most soul-searching job I had ever had. I started in the office, 9-5, it was good, until the sales people came one by one with their high hopes, their pie-crust promises and one by one they failed. I ended up going out into the field to sort out their problems, damage limitation, to repair the relationships I had worked hard to build.
I found myself working across the UK, my commute got further and further afield, I found myself checking into Travelodges in Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Margate and Bristol. From the outside looking in, my lifestyle looked glamorous,on the road. In truth it was lonely and it was damn hard. Eating alone, nobody but the iPod in my car for company. I clocked up almost 80,000 miles on my car in 28 months. It was futile though, times they were-a-changin’ and my boss realised that all this effort for little profit wasn’t worth it. He was a gentleman though and he kept paying me until I found another job.
Gone were the days of picking and choosing. Gone were the days of applying direct to the employer. I found myself sitting through interview after interview with recruitment agencies. They all promised high paid jobs in glossy offices, the truth was I’d probably rather have cleaned toilets than take them up on the offers – the offers never came though. I was setting my standards too high. I was overpaid and over qualified for most of them.
Luckily for me, my job got advertised and I ended up in the most rewarding role of all. I love working with students, helping them get the most out of their experience. Best of all I get to use all of my experience and skills in loads of exciting projects. No commute, no waiting for expense claims, no problems. After four years though I wondered is it time I moved on? Should I explore the big, bad world around me? I will be honest, I have spent the last year flirting with temptation. Most of these would mean a move to London, Cambridge, Leeds or Manchester… there are few opportunities in my neck of the woods.
An opportunity recently came knocking on my own front door though, a chance for more money and some extra hours at work. Colleagues all assumed I would apply and I guess I kind of felt it was expected of me to. The closer it came to the closing date though, the more I realised what a hassle it would be. More hours? I already struggle to fit it everything I want to in the spare time I have. More money sure that’s a good thing but by the time you took contributions off it just wasn’t worth it. Quite frankly m’dear I could earn more writing insanely cheesy greetings cards lines like I did last December -and I’d enjoy it more! I decided that I would be selfish, self appreciating moreover and use that time I could be doing the extra job and dedicate it to blogging, writing and working on personal projects. I decided that living was more important than working and the money. Of course there were no guarantees I would have even gotten the job but I didn’t even want to try in the end. I guess the fun of the contest left me some time ago.
At first I wondered if I had done the right thing – an opportunity like this doesn’t come up every day. But then I realised I have to look on my personal stuff as an opportunity too. Sure it doesn’t pay (for now) but give it time and a little effort and it will. I’m confident that I’ll have many more opportunities by focussing on these than I would at work. Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear has been an eye opener in realising that whilst pipe dreams are great and you need a day job that pays – you have to live that dream. I want to be a writer. I want to be known for my work, so this is me, writing. I’ll never stop writing and I’ll never give up that dream. If you want something in life there are no buts, no when the time is right – it’s here and it is now that matters.
How about you? Have you ever turned down an opportunity and regretted it? Or perhaps it was the best thing you ever did? Feel free to comment below.