06 January 2014

Lessons I learnt last year

It's not that I want to look back rather than forward. Far from it. But it wouldn't be fair to start the year without reflection on valuable lessons I learnt last year.

In April last year, I wrote about my decision to move on from my role at Learning Media. I look back on this post and think that there is a certain element of naivety in those words. That post was very upbeat and positive without a hint of any misgiving or second thoughts about making the move.

In all honesty, I was ready to leave Learning Media - the company was struggling financially, I had concerns about its long-term viability - and with good reason as later in the year the company had to be wound up and I felt fortunate that God had provided an alternative for me not to have to go through that situation. The opportunity to move on almost fell in my lap really, and at the time I felt I would be silly not to take it.

However....in all honesty after the first interview I didn't come away with a great vibe and my gut instinct told me not to go back for a second interview. It was only at my contact's (who works there) recommendation and encouragement that I reconsidered and eventually took the role.

I knew pretty early on that I'd potentially made a mistake when on day 2 I sat at my desk almost having a full on panic attack thinking 'what have I done?'.That and the fact that I found myself praying hard out for God to give me strength to get through each day on the daily drive out there.

I told myself it was just early jitters and to give it time - that once I had a few months under my belt I'd feel different. Only I didn't.

I tried to ward off potential feelings of inferiority in the new role by reminding myself that we are all just human beings and that a large paycheck is no guarantee that someone is any more switched on than the most junior person in the company.

But the unsettled feelings didn't go away. I questioned whether I even wanted to be an accountant any more. I researched changing careers, becoming a teacher, anything to get me out of the current situation I found myself in. I admitted that I was desperately seeking balance because things felt off-kilter.

And then there was the holiday. To be honest in those early months all I found myself focusing on was trying to hold out for the holiday - just a couple more months, then it was a couple more weeks, and then I'd made it there and we were off on our adventure.

I did a good job of switching off completely for the first three weeks of the holiday, but as our return drew nearer I found myself inadvertently thinking about what I was coming back to. The closer the day drew near, the bigger the dread grew. We arrived home on a Friday afternoon and by Sunday night, I had worked myself up into such a state that I had the biggest pit of dread imaginable in my stomach. This was not just post-holiday blues, it was much more more. I lay awake from 3am wishing the morning wouldn't arrive.

This was the tipping point that actually made me acknowledge what I'd been fighting all these months. That something had to change. I knew I couldn't go on. There were a lot of things not quite right about the role - some of that had to do with it not being right for me at the stage I'm at in my life wanting more family time, and the role had done nothing but reduce family time even further and increase stress - the opposite of what I wanted.

So here I find myself at the beginning of a new year, with a fresh start and a new opportunity beginning today. A role in a small IT company with less than 20 staff, a sole charge accountant role working 35 hours a week which means I will be able to spend every afternoon with the boys after school. This means the world to me, so much more than anything else could right now.

There were other very important lessons I learnt that I've had plenty of time to reflect on these past few months:

  • More money does not mean more happiness - last year I was earning more money than I ever had before but had never been as miserable 
  • Working for a "professional" company is no guarantee that those who come with a big title and paycheck will do their job properly - this took me somewhat by surprise and even more so that somehow I was meant to hold them to account despite the fact that their own more senior managers had no ability to hold them accountable for their actions and inaction
  • I may never want to be a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) which seems to be the general expectation that all Accountants should want to aspire to - and you know what I'm OK with that. Many won't understand my position on this, but I don't plan to justify it - I'm OK with it, my family is OK with it and that's all that matters.
  • Four more hours - four more hours that I get to be with my kids each week feels like an absolute luxury right now. Of course, I can't say I'll enjoy every minute because no doubt there will be moments (when I'm busy breaking up fights most likely) when I'll probably wish I was back at work instead
  • I'll never wish I had spent more hours at work - but I know I'll wish I had spent more time with my boys, and I desperately wish to be at peace that the decisions I have made are for the good of our family. 

So now here I stand on the brink of another year. Feeling hopeful, and choosing to every day put my faith in the One who always has me in the palm of His hand and who has never failed me yet.

It's a good place to be. 

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