Monday, April 29, 2013

One Week Left!

In five days I will end my tenure at my present job.  It's been seven and a half years of joy, frustration and growth, all rolled up into a ball. I started in a dual role - as both the President and CEO's Executive Assistant and a new role in employee communications.  It was a position I took on with excitement and motivation and which eventually led to me becoming the Manager, Communications & Social Media. As I moved along in my career I found I loved the communications field on the employee side - I wanted employees to be happy in their jobs, and I knew that keeping them in the loop was all part of it. The need for better communications between the various offices across Canada was lacking and I was happy to find some solutions. With no budget but gusto, I created an employee newsletter that consisted of an interview with one employee per issue, and a mixture of corporate and fun articles. It involved pulling information from various areas of the company, and last month I created the 55th issue, my last. I also created a book club for the CEO and employees to share together, a quarterly CEO newsletter and regular town hall meetings where the CEO would address the company on progress to date.

A couple of years into the job and social media was getting big. It was something that interested me and I looked for ways in which our company could utilize the tools. It is one of the great things about working here - I was able to create my job to large extent. As one of the first companies in financial services to start using social media to connect to clients and prospects, with the hope of increasing brand awareness, it has been both fun and challenging incorprating the new digital world into a traditional business.

Last summer I was aware that it was time to leave. I had been struggling off and on for a while, but by last August I just knew. Time to say "bye-bye" and move on to my next adventure. And so by January I was working out how I was going to quit my job, sell my house and go back to school full-time to finish up my communications degree by the end of the year. And here I am, 5 days to go until this part is done.

It has been a great ride, and one I will never forget.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Nine Years

The past couple of months have been a whirlwind - giving my notice at work, selling my house and moving to a neighbouring city, into the 23rd floor of a gorgeous condo (the views are awesome). What I look forward to most is sitting on my balcony on a summer's night, watching the sunset, glass of wine in hand.

Of course that is just part of this story.  Almost immediately after I finish up at my job I will be headed to school, to finish up a communications degree I started NINE years ago. Going through all of my stuff lately as I pack for the move, I came across that very first university course I took at the University of Toronto. It was an Academic Bridging Course for people who had not continued their education beyond high school. There we all were in that classroom a couple of nights a week, learning how to write essays (which will forever be etched in my mind) and studying the myraid of topics that made up that course on contemporary Canada. My favourites topics were Canada's role in World War 1, Leonard Cohen (I now totally understand his appeal to women), and Quebec's unique perspective on being Canadian. It was such a positive experience that laid the foundation for the next several years of study. I remember at the time being a little discouraged at the long road ahead, but then realized that the nine years would pass anyway, so why not spend the time working towards a goal?

Unfortunately I was unable to continue my studies with the University of Toronto.  I had a young child at the time and I needed to option of studying online.  I found a general degree program at Wildrid Laurier University in Waterloo that could be completed entirely online.  My hope was that by the time I got far enough into the program, I would be able to complete a degree in communications completely online. That didn't happen but I have been able to complete many of the courses online as I pursue the communications degree. I have been able to attend a couple of in-class classes over the past couple of years and in May I will continue that trend as I finish up the degree. 

With two weeks left at my job, the excitement within me is definitely growing.  I can hardly believe that in two weeks I will be unemployed and I can't wait! I'm looking forward to diving into the rest of my courses and feeling my way towards the brand new chapter that will follow.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Finding the Courage to Act

It's been about a month now since I walked into the CEO's office and gave him my notice. Since then, I've sold my house, found a condo to rent, and am on my way towards starting full-time university in May.

What has been so interesting to me is people's reactions to my plans.  Most people have been supportive and are really happy for me, calling me things like "courageous" and "brave." One person even said that I was his hero. All of this feels really great and makes me think I'm on to something really good ahead.

A couple of people have nervously expressed that they hope I know what I'm doing and that I'm making the right decision. I understand where they're coming from.  In fact, I expected more reactions like that than what I got.  I think it we naturally assume the worst outcome of a scary decision and so I expected people would think I was nuts.  I mean, who quits their job with no job to go to, sells their house and plans to go back to school full-time (with people young enough to be my children, I might add)? Believe me, I asked myself the same questions before I really decided I was going to do this.

What has been sad for me is that I am finding that many people want to make their own changes - change a job, a relationship, a living situation - whatever, but too often allow fear to stop them.  "Not everyone is like you" a couple of people have said, meaning that not everyone can act on a decision to change.  Well, I know nobody is like me but that doesn't mean I am so unique in wanting to change something and then doing it. Or am I? One friend told me, "Wow, you just make a decision and then you do it." Again, I'm not getting why that is a novel concept. And I know I may sound unempathetic, but if you are stuck, meaning you know what you want to do, but can't for whatever reason do it, please don't give up. Talk to people, keep looking for answers, do what you need to do to muster the courage to act.

I wonder what the world would be like if everyone acted on their decisions?  Not on every whim or emotional urge, but once something is thought out and decided, what if everyone just went for it?

How great would that be.