Time for a Career Stocktake?

“It’s the first time you’ve driven me to school Dad!”

As part of an Executive Outplacement Programme Harmonics is delivering for an organisation, I am currently coaching a Senior Executive who has decided to take a voluntary severance package. He is a driven go-getter and always has been. Keen to look to the future, he has quickly put his previous employer behind him and wants to move on. He only finished up in the past month with his former employer and already has a job offer on the table which he was keen to accept and get back to work.

He loves being busy, achieving goals and ‘driving on’, as he says himself. He is a talented executive who will do well in his next position for the employer lucky enough to get him. He is in his late forties now and the change in career is coming at the right time for him to reposition himself into a different industry sector.

On the rebound

In our sessions, I noticed this rush to get to the next job. It’s fairly common, especially before people have finished up in their previous roles. There’s a mad dash to bank the severance package and make a seamless transition to the next role. The mad dash is derived from the fear of not being busy and that life would not have the regular routine structure. Getting another job as soon as possible also seems the perfect remedy to get over a relationship that ended not so well. If we were speaking about relationships, we might call it “on the rebound”.

Time to himself

In the last few weeks my client has found himself with more time on his hands than ever before in his life. He doesn’t have a structure, meetings, deadlines, emails or teleconference calls. So this week he did the school runs. His eldest, who is 15 years old (the same age as my own daughter), surprised him by saying “Do you know it’s the first time you have driven me to school Dad?” He was dumbstruck.

It dawned on him for the first time just how consumed he had been by work, striving to achieve more and more year after year. He was never around to do the school runs. He has always been busy at work. Busy making sure his family have everything they want. But the simple things in life can be overlooked in the chase to be successful. He spoke of the blindness that extreme work brought to other parts of his life.

It happens. Aspects in your life suffer that you don’t even notice, because you have been blinded by what you think is important. It is not until you take the time to stand back that you can see how consumed you have been by it all.

Time passes swiftly

Following my coaching session, I went for lunch and bumped into a former work colleague who was having lunch with his 17 year old daughter. He had spent the last six months recovering from a health scare. He couldn’t drive because of an eye disease that turned serious. He had to stop work but his scare has been averted and he’s looking to get back to work again early in the New Year. The illness, he said (as he looked at his daughter), made him realize the really important things in life are those closest to you, your big rocks.

It is only two months ago that I lost a big rock in my life. I buried a great friend who passed away after a two year battle with cancer. He was only 48 years old and a role model to so many who knew him. He was hugely successful in business, but always had time for a coffee and a chat. He exercised daily, was a non-smoker, non-drinker and left behind a loving wife and two teenage kids. He even wrote a moving message to be read out at his funeral. In the note he had written “I have no regrets”. He had balanced a successful business life with spending lots of time with his kids and family. He always spoke about having time for family. He has been taken too early but his words “I have no regrets” lead me to think, how many of us can say the same?

Time to think

In the last couple of weeks, my coaching client has been able to get some time to think and reflect. He has begun to notice the things he has missed for so long because he has been distracted by being busy. He has time to think.

We are coming up to the Christmas break when many of us get time to think. The break gives us time off the roller coaster we call work. We let go of emails for a while and catch up with family and friends. We get time to indulge ourselves and have some fun. We take time to read for leisure or go for long walks. Our days lack discipline and are unstructured. It takes a bit of getting used to recalibrating to just being. The technology enabled world wants us to stay connected and prompts us to keep engaging, read the latest tweet or social media post.

Time to be

One of the key lessons I have learned from coaching is not to miss out on our own daughters growing up. I was coaching another busy exec that had lost their job around the time she was born and what he said changed my perspective on parenting for life. He told me that he had invested the past 27 years of his life in a corporate and they had just cut the umbilical cord. He admitted, crying openly to me, that work had taken hold of his life and he had not only lost his job, he had lost his marriage and his relationship with his teenage daughters. He had been distracted by work and missed out on all the important things in their growing up. This served as a timely message to me; don’t lose your family and your daughter however busy life gets.

I am busy like many others. Yes, I am often away mid-week, but what is key is to make the time to chat, to be and if possible to do the school runs every so often. Time to connect, to listen, to think together, to share fresh insights, to laugh heartedly, to spend doing stuff that is just pure fun and to create memories. I can look back at 2017 and say we have created great memories. This blog earlier in the year speaks about our fun trip to London.

Time to reflect

In our business we receive many calls from people who have had time to think over Christmas and want a career or job change. So it’s that time of year for us all to reflect. Here are some questions that may help you to think about what’s really important for 2018 and beyond.

  • What were your standout memories for 2017?
  • Did they include the really important people in your life?
  • What didn’t you get the time to do that you would have wanted if you had more time?
  • What memories do you want to create in 2018?

If something needs changing, stop saying I’m too busy, change yourself or change the situation. Take time to think, be and most important of all, have no regrets!

  “This time like all times is a good time if we knew what to with it” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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