Up until the age of 46 I didn’t spend a single day unemployed. From the time I got out of the Army in 1971 until 1991 I only changed jobs twice. It doesn’t give you a lot of time to think about your career or to consider that you might be doing other things.
During the two years I was out of work I did a lot of thinking and I tried a lot of different things.
I suppose if I had found a job immediately my life would not be what it is today. I would venture to say it is better than it might have otherwise been despite the “years from heck.” As you know, all jobs are temporary. That long period of unemployment in a very real sense forced me to think about alternatives.
Not only did I attend meetings of the Connecticut Venture Group and pick up a few clients, I also did a little consulting. About the only thing I didn’t do was take any educational courses. I wish I had, but I was always thinking I would find something and didn’t want to invest the time and have to drop out.
Most financial folks have long stretches with individual employers. And, typically our careers grow steadily upward. Our area of expertise when it comes to work is mastery of the gradual improvement. Radical change is not our thing.
Although in 1993 I went back into the regular world of work, the seeds of what I am doing today had been planted, and that is the point I would like to make tonight. Do a little dreaming when you have the time. Play with the alternatives and consider all of the possibilities.
Not only is location – moving – one of the things you might talk about with the family, but also the very basics of your work activities. A Treasurer doesn’t always have to be a Treasurer. An Internal Auditor doesn’t always have to be an Internal Auditor, and a Chief Financial Officer doesn’t always have to be a Chief Financial Officer. (I’m going to stop here because I am sure you can see the pattern.)
Back in 1991-1992 my wife did suggest that I start a business. I signed up for some “businesses for sale” distributions and read them with great care for about 6 months. Honestly, I didn’t find any that sparked my interest, but again, that is not really the point. The point is that I THOUGHT about it.
There are lots of things one can do in one’s life. Although life style changes may be required to do some of them, all I am suggesting is that you consider the possibilities and to the degree you can play them out on a trial basis, do it.
Tomorrow doesn’t actually have to be just like yesterday plus 5%. For some of us, radically different things can and should be tried. Being out of work for two years taught me that I wouldn’t die if I wasn’t working for a corporation and enjoying a steady paycheck. Sure, it is nice to have, but as we all know, it doesn’t come with a guarantee anyway.
Out of the box thinking doesn’t mean you actually have to do something out of the box with your career. That said if you don’t think through all the possibilities when you have the time, you won’t have time to do it when you are back in harness.
They may be dreams today and tomorrow’s reality may be more of the same, but in today’s world with longer life spans it pays to have alternatives you have given proper consideration.
Let’s not let those remarkable brains and skills of yours go to waste. Not now. Not ever.