So … Friday 20th November I leave my office and head on a weeks annual leave. I used to rarely take my leave in other jobs and struggled to use it all up – the last four years I’ve had the opposite problem – no flexi and no leave! This week of leave is different though. I’m using up the leave I have accrued so far in my annual leave year in order for me to leave my organisation.
So although technically I’m on leave, Friday is actually my last working day.
I have been working in my current roles since August 2011 but in the civil service as a whole since 1998! On Friday I return my laptop, blackberry and my security pass and leave the pods at the entrance of my building (they remind me of spooks but there isn’t much I’ll miss about the building I’m in (other than the van round the corner where my Friday staple is curry, rice and chips!))
I haven’t been happy in my job for a while now. In the early days I thought it was just because I had a rocky start and no training. Very shortly after that I attributed it to grief. I applied for my latest role because I thought it would be management level enough to change things, they readvertised and I didn’t reapply as I had changed my mind. Ironically (or possibly Gods sense of humour) I got an interview as they included both sets of applications and was then successful in the role.
Very quickly I started to realise things were not going to be easy to change. I have a small, brilliant team who deliver over and above and really remind me of the phrase “manage your strengths and staff your weaknesses”. Things were difficult and hard I didn’t like the person I was and about two years ago I started actively applying for jobs and praying. I was always successful in applications, at least to getting an interview. But this time was different. Every application got me no where – any feedback I got was really negative. A year in I widened the search and started putting my cv online for private sector. Once or twice I was successful in an internal loan or move around and thought prayers were being answered but then at the last minute they were always spectacularly thwarted. I have previously applied for a voluntary exit and was rejected, I think that and then handling the work of everyone when the team had been decimated made things worse.
I was no longer hard working and motivated, I was no longer career focussed and tenacious and it worried me. My conversations with God were please let me get another job, if not please tell me why I’m where I am and what I need to learn or do? You start to think you must be in that place for a reason otherwise things would be changing.
When the opportunity arose to apply for voluntary exit there was part of me that wanted to snap it up without a thought but there was the other half of me that appreciated with no college or university and over 15 years experience I could be throwing away an awful lot. My salary is a very good salary I may not be able to get that going in somewhere at the bottom. I prayed and had a lot of friends pray too. I read scriptures in Proverbs about God directing my steps, I listened to a Tim Keller podcast on it and read up about faith and trust. If I was going to trust that God was closing the doors on jobs for a reason could I trust he would open right ones? Could I trust that he could then provide and resource me when I wasn’t earning and trust that I would find the right new job at the right time.
I prayed and trusted and applied and obviously was successful. Yet these past weeks and few months have been quite emotional. In the wake of Lizzie’s four year anniversary and a life changing decision I’ve lacked sleep and cried a lot. The magnitude of the decision to leave work without anything firmly lined up does not escape me. I have had to silence voices that have said I’m too young or too old, I’ve had to ignore those talking about the rubbish job market and the impoverished north east of England. Some say I’m brave and some say I’m stupid. Some thought it was a longtime plan and I’m jetting off somewhere (I’m not!).
So really? What is it all about?
It’s about how much my life has completely and entirely changed in the last four years. I now have an amazing church and a social life. My sister died at 21 if there is anything in this world to teach you about the shortness of life and the importance of siezing the day that will do it.
I now realise I can serve in church and realise I’m actually OK at some stuff. The Rachel who worked for the next grade as soon as she reached the one before it hasn’t been around a while. I don’t know if it was just the wrong job or if it was the grief. Or if I was being changed, maybe finding myself or loosing myself, heck maybe I’m even becoming more like Christ. I know I never had thoughts of doing other things and leaving IT or the civil service before and that now I have those thoughts on a regular basis.
It’s about knowing I am valued yet at the same time knowing I need to value myself a lot more. It’s about wanting to discover other things. Not wanting to be in the daily grind or scrambling on the corporate ladder that I used to passionately power towards in my six inch heels.
It will be about exploring and discovering as much as assessing and reflecting. It will be a season of trusting God and having people to kick my bum when I’m struggling. It will definitely be about getting past and overcoming some of my character flaws such as laziness, lack of discipline and spending lots so I am well aware of some sensible things I need to put in place to help with that.
I won’t be publishing my hopes or my goals on here – I’m going to do some e-learning packages and volunteer for church and help a friend in her amazing charity. I am getting a new hobby and will be continuing with my blogging and writing my ebook.
I’m going to rest and refresh myself and get deep into Gods word and read lots. I’m going to get back into training and working out, even if I haven’t got a group to do it with. AND I’m going to keep “doing things scared” and saying yes to opportunities.
Am I excited? Yes
Am I scared? Absolutely to almost an overwhelming degree
It’s an uncertain future yet I do still have a quiet confidence on the inside that this is a right move and at the right time.
I can’t wait to blog and share things with you. I will be helping the fabulous Beautiful Is campaign at Clothes Show Live and have a trip to Africa planned as well. If you follow me on social media you can keep up with my (very regular almost mundane) activities that I’m going to do in the middle of the day just coz I can!!!
If you’re a praying sort please pray I want these few months to be fruitful and enlightening – if you’re in social media or events they are avenues I’m considering (after a brief sabatacal and some training) so feel free to find me on LinkedIn.
In the meantime I’ll try and post a fashion / shopping related post in the next couple of days just to keep thing a light!!!