Sometimes making a major change in your life is something you keep looking for excuses to put off, until finally it becomes clear that you are, in fact, obfuscating. For me this preparation started some two to three years ago as I started to increase the levels of freelance work I undertook within the library profession.
I was setting myself up then to make the leap into the world of freelance, but was held back by the undiminshing and unrelenting cost of a large Auckland mortgage. Then His Lordship was made redundant coming up to two years ago, and my salary became of paramount importance.
Then, as luck would have it, I landed a really good job in the Waikato and His Lordship also picked up a good role in the same place after six months freelancing. So we stayed on the wheel and continued to pedal.
But when you have a good income you also seem to find ways to spend the additional money that is coming in, and life is then both easy in terms of material comforts and hard in terms of the vortex that is your working life. And I’ve been reassessing what is important and what is not over recent months.
The possibility of change came through the sale of our Auckland house. No longer bound by a crippling mortgage, I faced the prospect of being able to make a choce for the sake of it being the right thing for me, without quite the same financial constraints. That’s not to say I can, or even want to, retire, but I do want some more music in my life, and some more flexibility in my working week. I talked about the professional overlap of music and libraries in an earlier blog, and now there is a peep of possibility winking back at me that this may come to pass.
So this week I resigned from my permanent fulltime role, and since talking to my boss on Monday I have veered between periods of enormous self doubt and periods of exhileration. There is nothing inherently wrong with my job. It’s just not really the direction I want to continue in. I’ve had enormous amounts of operational freedom to effect change, and that in itself is a change from what I am used to, where change comes only through endless meetings and negotiation, often taking close to a year to bring about, and then often in a filtered form.
I now have the daunting task of crafting a new professional place for myself. I have a few areas covered, and on Saturday I am teaching my first saxophone classes in a number of years. Excited? You bet. I am realistic enough to know that I am not suddenly going to be in massive demand as a starring saxophonist, but even sharing a bit of a love of music with kids will be enough to give me a lift in the meantime.
I’ve been a freelancer in a world before my professional career in libraries, and as well as the freedom this brings, I can remember always worrying about where the next dollars would come from. This time around libraries will be part of my freelance offering, and I’m hoping that the flow of work will be steadier. But am I mad to walk away from unquestionably the best money I have ever earned in my life? Or is it, as I suspect, about more than money?
And as for libraries, I’ve always been keen on mentoring new professionals and in encouraging their professional development. I enjoy the tutoring and mentoring work I do, and even marking students’ work gives me a great deal of satisfaction as I endeavour to give positive and encouraging feedback that will help the students develop in their careers.
But I also like my “tribe” and I like creating strong and high functioning teams. I think I am quite good at this too, and at identifying people’s strengths and fully utilising them. So working on my own again will be strange. I will need to create a new tribe of likeminded people and I will need to network, which is not something I do naturally, having always been confident that I am doing enough of this organically through whatever role I have been working in.
Times are changing. I have taken the leap from the high board of a secure and generous salary, and now I need to both trust and back myself to succeed in my chosen new world. I’m open to any and all opportunities, and if you need my help, you know where to find me.