A year ago, I was a manager of communications and marketing for a national organization. I had a top-floor office with a view of the Toronto skyline. I had direct reports, a huge marketing budget, a nice salary, benefits and a pension. I should have been happy as it was what I’d been working towards for 12 years. But I wasn’t.
Rewind to the year 2000. I’d just graduated from journalism school, but found it tough to find a full-time, entry level job in journalism, so I took a job in corporate communications. I loved the job because it required lots of writing, my passion. I also got to hone new skills in graphic design and communications planning. Then I moved onto a more senior position before landing a management position. As I moved up the promotion ladder, I got farther and farther away from my original passion. I was spending more time assigning writing tasks to junior staff and looking at spreadsheets than doing what had originally attracted me to the journalism/communications in the first place.
My 40th birthday was approaching and I couldn’t ignore the fact that I wasn’t happy about where my life was. The thought that I could spend the next 25 years sitting in the same office made me very sad. I just couldn’t do it. I found myself staring out the window, thinking back on my working life so far and wondering what would have happened had I been more adventurous – taken a journalism job in Canada’s Far North, taught English in Asia or some such thing. At first I thought that the time for those adventures had passed. But the idea that I needed to shake up my life just wouldn’t go away. But mostly, I felt like I’d lost my way.
So, last fall to the dismay of my boss, I quit my job to focus on writing a memoir and find my way into a freelance writing career. In the months since I made my decision, I’ve completed a second draft of my memoir and am now preparing a book proposal. I’ve pursued and completed freelance writing and graphic design opportunities. I’ve started blogging and discovered a whole community of people who’ve gotten off the traditional work treadmill.
What does my future look like? It isn’t crystal clear and I’m fine with that. I know I want to write a couple of memoirs and novels. I will be pursuing freelance journalism and travel writing opportunities. I will use my skills and experience to help health care organizations with their communications needs. I’m open to new opportunities and adventures. My second act doesn’t so much represent a life reset, but a return to my passion to write while drawing upon all the skills and life experiences I’ve acquired so far. I left my job and gained the time and freedom to be my fully creative self.