Day 4 (Monday 4th December 2017)
Today's post is a very personal piece by a becoming much-loved regular contributor, Gary Cookson. Gary is a respected HR professional with a flair for development. His first post for this series was on Boxing Day in 2015 and expressed his experiences of job interviews, Turn Down the Light. Last year's was also candid, shining a light into his family life in (Your love keeps lifting me) Higher and Higher and which explained the transformation in his life after finding true love. This year's takes us on a further step along his journey of work and his wider life.
I’m really pleased to be able to contribute again to this Advent series and grateful to Kate for giving me the opportunity. This year’s theme is Darkness and Dawn, and if ever a theme has immediately encapsulated my entire year, it’s that.
Let me explain.
I once saw an article that said that 42 is the peak age in men for depression, as it tends to be the age when all the responsibilities of family, work/career, financial commitments and other things all combine to reach a potentially terrifying peak.
I turned 42 this year.
And although I’ve not been depressed, I can see the point the article is trying to make. It’s been a tough year for me, both personally and professionally, and one I’m in no hurry to repeat.
There’s been darkness.
|Darkness by Mikko Lagerstedt|
But overall, the first half of the year was difficult from a professional perspective.
|Dull job, by Duke, 1979|
And then I moved jobs.
All of a sudden I had a job where I was challenged professionally, where I was used to my full capacity, and was respected as a professional. However, my work life balance became awful because of the commute and amount of in job travel, and I became unable to manage this at all.
So the second half of the year became difficult from a personal perspective.
And this in turn made me start to wonder what I wanted from both, and how I could get balance.
To add to my darkness, a number of factors combined. We fell out with my parents around this time too, and whilst that’s no doubt a temporary situation it still isn’t pleasant as they were a good source of support and advice.
|Falling out with parents|
a temporary situation
And my wife has been very ill for the last few months too, and has been unable to play a full part in family life, adding more pressure on me to step up. More on that later though.
And in all of this darkness I’ve had to try to maintain a strong professional focus. To try to figure out what contribution I can make to the profession, whilst still keeping my family happy and healthy.
But they say the darkest hour is just before the dawn, and how true that may prove to be.
I’ve recently re-evaluated my priorities in life and realise it’s more important to keep my family happy. That’s my focus. And in doing that my professional needs need to fit around me doing that.
So I’ve left the job that was causing my family pain. And I’m exploring self employed, associate and interim opportunities that will allow me to be as flexible as I can to support my family in such an important time for us all.
And we are having another baby in May. (Hence why my wife has been very unwell.)
And so there’s the dawn. A new life, a new professional focus, and a renewed focus on what’s important in life.
I’m really excited by what the next year will bring. I aim to look back on it as a watershed year in which I finally balanced things.
After a year of darkness, comes the dawn.
And with it, hope.
|Daybreak, the Old Forest (2007) by Tom Dubbeldam|