There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens
One of the more subtle implications of the above words is that things change, and we need to respond to the changes we encounter in life. It is wise for us to understand what has changed, and adapt correctly for each season in life. Last month, I wrote about moving forward in my career – a move that translated me across time zones and cultures into a new country (you can read about it here). I want to further explore how several changes in my environment necessitated that move and how I reacted to that change foisted on me.
Because I was employed in the oil and gas industry, new resource discoveries and business opportunities in different parts of the world meant competing for cash with newer, more attractive projects. This in turn redefined existing career opportunities as our organization morphed to survive and job roles were eliminated and/or redefined. Company culture was impacted as many employees worked harder and longer to optimize value for themselves and for the company.
The biggest question that hung over my head in the run-up to my career move was the question of value. No matter how long or how hard I worked, it seemed I could not sufficiently prove to my bosses that I was adding value to the business – something that hit at the root of my motivation. Throw in a stressful work routine, unpromising assessment feedback and a team that was purely task-focused, and you had the perfect recipe for a demotivated employee. It was a matter of time before I woke up to what had happened. Someone had moved my cheese. My reaction? Take a break!
Apart from feeling that I needed to upskill, I also felt that my work routine was too inflexible for the major life changes I had undergone – my wife and I had welcomed a second child and moved houses while I struggled with a demanding job that left me constantly drained and unmotivated. Throughout this period (~10 months), I was unable to take one week of uninterrupted break from work. The sheer mental load was debilitating! My response needed to be immediate.
I spent the next six months taking things slow and planning for the future, and I am now in that future. As my academic activities ramp up in the coming days, it is important for me to redefine what value I bring to the table as a team member (and future employee), and ensure my mental health is protected as I decide what activities to take on. My balance of activities have to leave me feeling filled rather than drained. I cannot compromise on this, not even at the expense of a promising career or juicy pay check.
Admitting that I was at my breaking point was not easy for me. I wish it was as simple as taking a couple of weeks off, and returning all fresh and renewed. But it was much more than that. A lot had changed while I was not watching, and it is only in retrospect that I realize how much. More importantly, it has taken humility to acknowledge how the changes around me have impacted me, and how I need to be poised going into the future. I’m eagerly looking forward, preparing to make the most of the opportunities ahead of me.
Thank you for reading. See you next time!