Friday 20 August 2021

What do you say to taking chances?

Nineteen months ago, I took a huge risk. I resigned from my job in an organisation that I'd had my sights on for more than ten years, and was very much a dream employer in my eyes.

January 2020 was a complicated time. I'd returned to Canberra, two weeks after my father's funeral, to a smoky hellscape of a city, due to the ongoing devastation of bushfires across New South Wales. I saw a newjob opportunity that I thought I would be well-suited for, which was a sideways shift in my career, focused on publishing and communications. I put in an application, and was offered the job. In hindsight, it was a hasty decision - possibly a rash one - but it was the right one for me at the time. I needed a change, and this was a chance to focus on something adjacent to my previous career, but quite different.

I started in mid-February, and by mid-March... well, you know how the past 18 months have been. I produced a lot of work that I'm incredibly proud of, and in doing so, I built my skills as a writer, editor and creative producer. I also learnt a lot - about what it meant to be a communications and campaign manager. How strategic communications are meant to operate, and the importance of being proactive and responsive during times of crisis. I worked hard on this, and whilst with the right guidance, I was able to get a lot of this done, I continuously found myself second-guessing my skills, and my ability to get a satisfactory outcome from an advocacy campaign.

There were the most painstaking moments where I would lose sleep over whether we were getting the messaging right - or horribly wrong - and whether the right approach would make the difference between enthusiastic take-up from our stakeholders and quiet non-participation - or worse, downright hostility. This is the continuous brain space of being a communications manager, and after eighteen months, I was exhausted, mentally and physically.

In this role, I was not always the best person that I could be.

So, last month, I took a huge risk. I put in my resignation, allowing for plenty of time to have a thorough handover of the role. I don't have a new job lined up at this stage, but to be perfectly honest, I'm not keen to rush straight immediately from one job to the next. It's been five years since I had a break between jobs, and the thought of taking a month or two to refresh, reflect, regenerate, and focus a bit on my mental and physical wellbeing, is something that I'm really looking forward to.

Of course, I have doubts about whether this has been the right decision. I've enjoyed my time with my current employer - they're good people and they're doing good things. I care about the work that they do, and if I'm entirely honest, I'd say that they deserve better than what I have to offer. I'm also grateful for the opportunities that they've provided, and through them, I've added an impressive suite of achievements to my career path.

I guess I always knew that it was never going to be a 'forever job', but now it's time to move on to something that focuses more on my strengths, where I can be the best me. Whether that's as a writer, editor, content producer, or moving back in line with my previous trajectory in the area of cultural institutions, I'm excited about moving forward to a possible future where I can excel at the things that I'm good at.