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Sunrise blogging – career transition 3 months in

It’s January, it’s early and I’m feeling inspired. Time to reflect on my career transition three months in. 

As I type this I have to pause frequently as it’s morning and each dog needs their cuddles. We’re arranged all together on the sofa, so I alternate the hand with which I type. The dogs are an important part of my life, and this new chapter. They are the best work life balance motivation and constant companions for this home worker. 

Back to business. 

I’ve read two books recently that have inspired me to think about this period of transition in new ways. First, Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra and now Chasing the Sun by Linda Geddes. 

I loved Working Identity and learnt a lot from it. The things that resonated most with me: the importance of making a transition through practice, the reflective prompts included in the book and the overall affirmation that transitions need time and it’s important to give yourself permission to need time and to allow yourself some grace while you go through it. 

This last one is particularly important to me just now, as I often get asked what I am doing, if it was worth it leaving my previous employment and if I have my next chapter figured out. My answers to those questions are: not quite sure; definitely and no, not at all. I am in fact trying out a number of things, and I don’t know the shape of things and it feels like a huge win. In a practical way I make enough money to pay my bills, I work 4-5 days a week and I do worry about precariousness but this transition is living up to and exceeding my expectations. It feels scary in the best way. 

The reflective prompts in the book are a really useful starting point for taking stock and I especially like the way they are phrased. My favourite ones at the moment are: 

  • Moments of increased clarity about what you no longer want in your career?
  • Physical symptoms that clarify pros and cons of options you are considering?
  • Saying no to something you know is the wrong choice.

What these prompts help me understand is that I can’t plan or think my way through this period and onto the next chapter. Instead I need to give myself time and opportunities for practice. It reminds me a lot of my years in art school. I found art works in the same way. It’s a process, a practice that can turn ideas into reality. It feels good to have a narrative to share when you leave a long term job, and over time you re-tell the story again and again and each time it changes a little until you have new narrative that makes sense in the new context. 

This emphasis on practice links nicely to the things I have made more time for in recent months: yoga; meditation, walking the dogs, being outside. The being outside bit is what prompted me to read the other book, Chasing the Sun

Reading a book about the sun in the darkest time of year is no coincidence. I am seeking inspiration. And in this book I feel like I found plenty. It’s been useful to learn more about the science of sunlight, its importance to health and well-being, particularly mental health. There is a lot of research into the link between sunlight and depression and SAD that I found interesting. Getting outside during daylight hours already felt important to me before reading the book, but I had no idea how many different aspects of my life and my body could be impacted by it. Thankfully dog walks make it necessary for me to spend at least an hour outside each day and I average around 4-5 miles of movement a day. I even found that my watch can now estimate the time in daylight I spent each day. Not sure its figures are particularly accurate, but it’s an interesting idea. 

Overall, my efforts to improve my mental health are definitely paying off. It’s anxiety rather than depression that’s been an acute struggle for me in the past, and even though this had already improved in recent years, in the past three months things have really changed for the better. What was once a constant noise in my life has receded into the background and only alerts me occasionally not to ignore my feelings. All the things I am doing, and more importantly how I am doing them, work together to make a shift in the right direction. Result!

Finally, I sat down in early January to review my plans and strategy. Here is what I found: My business plan for 2023 had four goals, relating to generating income, establishing a working business, and to find and enjoy a better work life balance. I managed to hit all the major goals, with only one timeline shifting a bit beyond my plans, which I am very happy with. The plan for 2024 has a few more goals, but also less detail. At least for now.

Life has started to take on a new rhythm. While each week or month looks different from the last and there are a lot of new things to learn, my days have started to take on a more uniform feel, with more calm and more outdoor time and exercise. Here’s to seeing more sunrises in 2024.

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  1. Your ability to navigate this transition so monthly has been a huge inspiration, what you have taken on in terms of uncertainty after 10 years of a CEO for a major organization in edtech is truly impressive, major kudos to ruling and sharing the wisdom of those who rule along the way.

    • Maren Deepwell Maren Deepwell

      It feels like the best kind of scary. Thank you for sharing the journey with me.

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