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.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Andrew - I'm a great believer in taking risks and in leaving jobs when it feels right - I have done it several times and never regretted it. I'm sure you are being too hard on yourself in terms of the communications and campaigns (the fact you question yourself so much about whether your campaigns are as effective as they could be is already a sign that you do the job well!). Enjoy the break - it's so rare to have time off when you are properly 'free' so make the most of it! Best, Sarah