I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go
- John Lennon
In the future, when we leave South Africa for good, I might have to go back to work. Mr. Deep, when he proofreads this post, will strongly suggest that I change the word might in the previous sentence to will. But as nothing is certain life except death and taxes I am going to leave it as might.
Here's where I have to be careful because the way blogs and social media work it would be a real shame if at a future job interview the interviewer asked me, "why did you write in your blog that you'd rather quote stick your head in the toilet and flush repeatedly than return to the work force end quote?" So I won't write anything of the sort. Instead I'll tell you the real problem. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.
The only thing I've figured out during my time away from work which now totals 870 days, (wow, time really does fly when you're having fun) is what I don't want to do with my life. Nice people who I share these thoughts with say kind things like, "figuring out what you don't want to do is the first step" or "I'm sure you can easily find something you love." These are the same people who probably told me twenty years ago, "I'm sure you'll decide that you want to have kids one day" and we all know how that turned out.
Here's what I'm not looking for from my next job.
Stress. A little stress is fine. Excitement, challenges, all good. What's not good is waking up in the middle of the night thinking about work problems. Similarly I don't want to spend my days at work putting out fires and dodging land mines. Figuratively, of course. I don't plan to actually do work involving fire fighting and land mines.
All consuming. The best part about my life now is all of the things that I do have time for. Things like making dinner, seeing friends, going to the gym, volunteering and staring at the wall.
The challenge is how to turn the things I don't want out of work into a job that I do want. You don't see many resumes with this career objective: To work in an environment which is calm and peaceful and where a limited amount of effort and responsibility is required. Even someone applying for work at a spa would likely not be hired with that opening.
And here's the real problem. I'm the one with the problem. If I worked at a spa I would make it stressful and all consuming. Within days of starting work at the spa I would likely have us implementing a new software program, repainting the lobby, training all masseuses to ensure consistency in service and having a focus group to secure customer feedback. I am the one who gets carried away and makes a job demanding and if the job is already demanding, then forget it I'm back to having a bald patch on my head.
Recently I worked on a fundraising project. I didn't get paid but other that it was real work and the surprising part, it was enjoyable (and successful although that's not surprising.) A group of friends and I created and held an event to raise money for a bursary (scholarship) fund for female university students from Diepsloot. The event, called The Morning Market and Tea was held earlier this week at the home of my friend Sandy.
Four of us worked for several months to plan the event. We secured thirteen vendors selling various items (that was the market part.) Some of the vendors were seasoned pros who own their own successful businesses and others are just starting out. Confidence was there selling her artwork and Beatrice and Loyce were there selling cakes. Each vendor donated 10% of all sales. We had forty guests who each paid R200 at the door. A friend generously catered the event providing much more than the average tea finger sandwiches. In fact, there was not a finger sandwich to be found. We also had a raffle and silent auction which raised significant money.
As the day may be drawing near when I begin to work again, I have been thinking about The Morning Market and Tea and what made it enjoyable and here's what I have come up with. First, each of the four of us put the cause first. Yes, we wanted to make the event fun but we always focused on how we could raise maximum funds. Second, each of us worked very hard. No one blew into meetings like a hurricane, shared a bunch of outrageous ideas and then disappeared. Third, there were no silly politics. No one called anyone else to complain about another member of the group behind her back...at least I don't think anyone did. It's certainly possible that people called each other to complain about me, but I was none the wiser.
My career objective is now taking shape. Currently it looks like this: "To work in an environment where I can have maximum impact without having to endure any bullshit." OK, I could soften the wording a bit, but I think I'm making progress.
|Art by Confidence|
|Beatrice and Loyce|
|Photo credit for this photo and all below: Sue Huck|
|The market included a floral arrangement demonstration.|