I quit my job: one year on

One year (+one month) ago, I quit my job.  It was a big move, and I was truly scared.  But by the time I got to actually making the move, it was not so scary after all.

One year (+one month) on, I’m making another big move.  Packing up my life, following my husband overseas (and yes, quitting another job), and moving to Brunei for two years as a “trailing spouse”.  It is a massive move, and still very much in the scary phase.  I’m hoping that it works out like my last big decision: in the end, not so scary after all.

In the last year (+one month), I have learned so much about myself.  I’ve changed jobs; gone back to full time, then part time, study; had at least 5 different job offers/opportunities; battled infertility and depression; renovated two rooms of our house; become an aunty; had a new garage built; finished a Graduate Certificate in Career Development; discovered mindfulness; recommitted to yoga practice; done a Whole 30 and gone Paleo; lost 10 kg; completed my first multi-day tramp; and so much more.  I am stronger physically and mentally.

I can’t attribute all of this to quitting my job, but I am absolutely certain that the confidence I have gained through my job change has contributed to this personal transformation over the last year (+one month).  And I am equally certain that this confidence will continue to help me grow and develop in the next year.

One year from now, I expect to be in Brunei, reasonably settled into the local expat life, living a grand adventure with my favourite person.  I would love to have added another person to our amazing little family, and to have found some interesting things to do career-wise, but for now I’m just planning to take things as they come.

But most of all, one year from now, I hope that I am happy and feeling fulfilled.  The details won’t matter as long as that is true.

Learning to be alone

I’m sitting on the couch, laptop on lap, coffee in hand, crappy show on TV, and right now I’m pretty happy. But I also know that if I don’t watch myself, I’ll be in exactly this position for way too long, and I’ll soon be pretty unhappy. And the likelihood of me blobbing too long increases greatly when my husband’s away, as he is today.

So one of my latest goals is to learn how to be alone. Given that I may soon be a “trailing spouse” and spending a LOT of time alone, this may become even more important. The last thing I want to do is spend 2 years on the internet, missing out on all Brunei has to offer.

So, as is my nature, the first thing I did was start googling. And the first thing that popped up was this gorgeous wee video.

I love that it encourages us to be patient and start slow. It recognises that this is a learning process, and won’t necessarily be naturally easy.

But it also reminds me that I’ve spent time alone before, and that I’ve done lots of those things. I lived in Holland for 2 months, in which time I travelled alone, went to movies alone, went out to dinner alone, explored alone, cooked alone, and learnt alone. I was always happy to have someone to share some time with, but I was also happy being alone.

With all these things in mind, I came up with a few small goals for improving my enjoyment of my alone time:

  1. Set aside at least 3 hours a week of alone time.
  2. Take myself on at least one date a month – a movie, a dinner, coffee, whatever I feel like.
  3. Create a list of things I love doing alone (playing the piano, crafting, reading, writing, “spafternoon”)
  4. Turn off the TV and the laptop, and leave them that way.
  5. Create a playlist of “my” music – the stuff my husband is not so keen on, and that will encourage me to dance and sing.

I’m working on wooing myself again, and I can’t wait.

On flexibility

After completing a personal model of practice for my studies, outlining my intention to work in organisational development as well as in private careers practice, I have had a bit of a curve ball thrown at me. My husband has been approached for a fixed term expat role in Brunei, and would really like to accept it. So we are now considering our options, and will potentially be overseas early next year. This, of course, changes my own career plans, almost entirely. It’s a scary but exciting prospect.

And although my plans have changed, the process of completing a model of practice has been very useful. The model covered my theoretical foundations, the ways I will work in practice, and the types of work I would like to do.  It took a lot of thinking to summarise my views on careers and the world, and how I wish to implement those views in my work.

I will not necessarily be able to get work over there, but I also don’t want to completely abandon my career development while I act as the “trailing spouse”.
The model helped me to see that although the details may have changed, the fundamentals/foundations remain the same. Whatever I’m doing, I maintain the same worldview, preferences, and career theories. And having these written down has helped me to consider some alternative ways to use my experience:

  • I love the pure counselling side of things, so I could find opportunities to do career counselling with expats there, even if it’s just volunteering for experience.
  • I believe in narratives, and love to collect them, so I could start a blog that captures career stories.
  • I believe in entrepreneurship and creativity, so I could research different ways to offer online services.
  • I want to work with people searching for purpose, so could find online communities where these people come together.
  • I value mindfulness, so I could work on developing more counselling skills in this area.
  • I am interested in MBTI, so I could research accreditation programmes in Asia
  • I appreciate theory, particularly career construction theory, and also love learning, so I could investigate Masters programmes that I could do internationally.
  • I love thinking and new ideas, as well as writing, so I could start writing a book.

All of these ideas came quickly and easily out of my model of practice, and have made me significantly more excited about the prospect. I am still pretty scared (of the sheer logistics of moving overseas in 2 months), but these ideas help me to look forward to the opportunity, despite having to give up two significant opportunities at home.

And best of all, this has shown me how valuable flexibility can be, and how having a consistent foundation allows this flexibility. However I move forward with my career practice, I believe that these lessons will help me to work more effectively with clients who are experiencing change.