So I got sacked…now what?
Whether I got sacked, was forced to resign or whatever is a moot point. Having the benefit of a legal background the money (not mine) is on me. However, I was so discontent with the role that it made no difference to me. They did me a favour and it was a blessing.
I was waiting for one deal to go through and would have handed my notice in anyway. They knew that. So we agreed an amicable leaving package.
I took that job 9 months ago to fulfil two purposes:
1. To give me structure and direction
Eighteen months prior I left my share of a business to my business partner. I then drifted like a lost puppy doing various ad hoc jobs and charity expeditions.
The crux of the problem was that I did not achieve my ambition to join the Army Legal Service. In hindsight the business, an art gallery, had papered pleasantly over those cracks. On my exit I was faced with coming to terms that would never happen. I suffered a huge sense of loss and purpose and was suffocated with guilt for not having served in Afghanistan. Something that still plagues me.
At the same time I was involved in a couple of toxic relationships, the romantic and friendly sort, which had emptied my tank. I spent that eighteen months gathering my thoughts, mostly alone, and going to back to basics working in a friends West Country nightclub. One I had spent many a night pickled out of my mind when I was at university.
I was trying to work out what the hell it was I wanted to do and if I’d worked in a bar as a kid, I would have known that wasn’t for me! My lovely glossy hair got cut off too, which is now slowly but surely making a comeback, albeit a little greyer than before.
2. To earn some cash
Anyone who’s set up a business will know it’s pretty tricky and can be a hand to mouth existence whilst becoming established. Five years actually. Having a steady income was an attractive prospect at this point, however loosing the freedom of being my own boss that I had the luxury of for the best part of a decade was a concern!
A toss up: freedom and no money or money and less freedom. Pros and cons for both.
So here we are today and I ticked box one. Well done. Of course beginning a career as an estate agent two weeks before Brexit was not my brightest idea. Though I do have a tendency for making life difficult for myself and the philosophy of Absurdism comes to play here.
I advised my boss at my annual appraisal that I had two boxes to tick (I like boxes):
- To feel fulfilled in my work
- To make some money
If one of those boxes were ticked I could muddle through. Unfortunately neither boxes were being ticked at the six month point. I was, however, waiting on one vaguely decent deal and I didn’t want to let it go. So I hung on and on. As it happens it still hasn’t gone. I have one month and if it doesn’t go by then I can kiss it goodbye.
What have I learnt from this ‘adventure’
As a result of this 9 month exercise I have discovered several things and validated others. Even if you are not enjoying something you can always learn from it.
1. How NOT to manage
My manager has been very successful earning money however this by default does not automatically give you management skills. In my humble opinion a manager should inspire, encourage and have awareness of themselves, others, individually and collectively and to nurture personal strengths and weaknesses. To provide solutions, not frustrations to the team to ensure efficiency and productivity.
This dear girl, unfortunately, did not tick the boxes.
2. Office work is not for me
I knew this already.
Just as I completed my training contract the daily commute and grind nearly killed me, literally. Hence my desire to join the military, different places, changing job roles, travel, adventure and Afghanistan.
I went thrill seeking and was granted permission by my reserve unit to ride in the Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown Park, a military horse race. Regrettably I came unstuck and ended up underneath the horse, Treacle, instead of being on top of him, thereby ending my military career and amateur jockey hobby.
I was having those same thrill seeking, highly erratic feelings for some time in this job.
3. Follow my gut
Whilst I was working I was so determined to get out of the situation that I was in that I would lock myself away and build this website. I need a shop front I thought.
I like what my gut tells me but I need to keep a check on my mind and make sure it follows suit. I have bills to pay, like everyone else, but I do not live extravagantly and I have no children, but I do have Sid and Winston. I often battle internally between my unconventionality and society’s conventional and expected standards and I do not want to be diverted or influenced by these.
4. Pick your battles
Sometimes it is just better to walk away and try and forget. Putting energy into battles that won’t affect you down the line are not worth it. Particularly ones that you are unlikely to win without huge effort and not a lot of gain. Redirect that time into positive steps to personal progression.
5. Make positive steps
In that period of working I had little spare time but I knew the job was not sustainable for me. I made the decision to not over face myself, as I so often had, and make one positive step a day, just one, to get me closer to the vague goal of working for myself in some form.
Since I have stuck to my mantra I now have something tangible to work with, my shop front. A website which demonstrates my abilities, achievements and misgivings.
I shared this with Charlie Knight, who I met at the Explore weekend at the RGS and was chuffed to discover that he took this mantra on board too! Now we catch up every month or so to have our own appraisals and share ideas and thoughts.
Plenty of anxiety about what lies ahead, the meagre security blanket of that job is now gone and I’m out of my comfort zone, and guess what? It’s uncomfortable. All I know is that I want to make a living which gives me the purpose and fulfilment that I desire and no-one else is going to or can do that for me.
I have to forge my own path and I am not entirely sure how I am going to do that but if I don’t try I will never find out. It is nerve wracking. I suspect I will have to compromise here and there and that’s ok too.
Speaking at the Royal Geographical Society Microlectures about my Sunflowers for Soldiers expedition in March, is a very exciting prospect and I know I would like to do more speaking. Ensuring that the public do not forget what our military do for us, in times of peace and conflict, is very important to me. I am exploring further opportunities currently.
In my eighteen months of drifting I approached production companies with documentary ideas. At the time I did not have the confidence to pursue it and I only got so far with no shop front. Now I will be pushing forwards with this.
Amongst trying to earn a living, look after the boys, that includes my hugely patient and encouraging partner, and try to quell any fears that my family have for me I will be raising funds and sponsorship for, amongst other things, a big battlefield tour and endurance test across Oman in winter 2018.
Of course, I would also like to do my Mountain Leader course to and perhaps start a tour business down the line.
2017 is going to be a busy and hopefully unpredictable and successful year! A case of go hard or go home I think!
NB. On another note I would like to make the point that I am in a fortunate position to be complaining about these first world issues. There are always people far worse off than us!