Tuesday, 29 January 2013

I Crave Change

I recently tweeted the mantra below as part of a writing workshop I participated in.


Good for the mind. Food for the soul. A positive thing.

But change can be a fearsome beast in the wrong hands, easier to hide from instead of facing front on. Easier to stick with what you know, not what you should be doing.

I used to be something of a change embracer.

Over the past decade, I changed location, house, even my passport. It's not always been smooth sailing, often emotionally fraught, generally riddled with unknowns. On balance though, change has been a good thing and key to the process of moving forward.

I've found one aspect of my life difficult to change.

My working life.

Photo credit: Bits of Truth

Fix it when it's broke

I've been an office worker my entire adult working life. I've been in government for ten years, in a blue chip corporation prior to that. In both sectors, I've worked in traditional office jobs, devoid of flexibility and misaligned with my outlook on life.

Both roles have been a means to an end, a way to pay the bills while I worked on the other aspects of my life abroad - family, lifestyle, our home.

In the past twelve months, I've reached something of a tipping point. A craving to change this final piece of the puzzle. When a job leaves you feeling like a square peg being bashed into a round hole, it's time to fix it.

But how to do it?

Change isn't easy

Change doesn't happen overnight - you have to work at it, chip away at the edges, shape and mould it until it feels right. Even so, I still wonder why it's taken me this long to change such a major part of my life.

Fear of the unknown? Uncertainty about what comes next? Indecision and procrastination?

Or maybe all of the above.

I advocate the need to live life differently and I blog, write and share about living the dream, but I haven't entirely practiced what I preach. I still work the 9-5 grind and I yearn for the day when I no longer sit in the early morning carnage otherwise known as peak hour traffic. In my experience, you can tweak and fiddle with your life here and there but, if the working day isn't right, then the total experience doesn't quite add up.

In part, I blame this blog. It's opened up a can of worms.

It's reignited my passion for writing. It's shown me that when I write, I feel alive. Motivated. Fulfilled. Content.

Not only this, but it feels right.

Writing doesn't pay the bills. Not yet. It's a passion that may one day become something more. As the primary earner in our family, it isn't enough. It's an indulgence and a good habit but it isn't a full-time job.

So what to do about that day job?

Aiming for location independence

Something I heard recently that piqued my curiosity was location independence or the ability to work from wherever you want, whenever you want and in a number of fields.

But is it realistic or just another new fad?

It seems that location independent roles are an entirely flexible way of working but they only suit certain careers or job choices. If you want to work from your log cabin in Northern Ontario, you can. Booking cheap holidays to Rhodes and planning to work from the beach? No problem.

Location independence is a fresh take on the way jobs are defined and offer complete freedom and independence. But are these roles only useful for travellers or freelancers hoping to earn a minimal wage if they're lucky?

Is it realistic in this day and age, with the financial and physical constraints that come with daily life, to work independently and forge a meaningful and sustainable career?

Increasingly, with expats like myself, we look to find new ways to increase and share the time we spend with family and friends in the countries that we live in and have loved. The ability to work between the UK and Australia is a case in point. Six months here, six months there. It sounds like the ultimate flexible working arrangement... or is it?

So I put it to you.

Have you worked independently of any particular location? Have you worked the 9-5 office job and sought out such a change? If so, how did you do it and what did you do? Is location independence a realistic goal?

Or do you simply crave change in your life and is fear of change or the unknown stopping you?

Please do leave your thoughts below.

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Monday, 14 January 2013

Lost in Babyland

It's been a while.

Four weeks in fact. Four weeks since I last posted on this blog. Four weeks since I last sent out a stream of tweets or pinned a little something special. Four weeks since I last sat down and wrote anything at all. Four long weeks since I last came up for air.

But what a ride.

I made the conscious decision to have a month-long break from my writing.

No, that's a blatant lie. I made no such conscious decision. I haven't made a conscious decision in weeks. I haven't thought about much at all because I've been away. On holiday, if you like. I've been somewhere other-worldly where time has come to a standstill, nothing gets done in a hurry, and where little boys puke on you.

I've been to Babyland.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons (Gwen Harlow)

Dear sweet God above, please help me because I've never been to a more crazy, insane, wildly out of control place in my entire life. It's an unfathomable land of noise and mess and all-out household carnage.

In Babyland, I'm up to my eyes and ears in disposable nappies and baby shit. In Babyland, I no longer have adult conversations but smile and coo, blow raspberries and tickle chins. My reading material consists of 6-page books with short sentences and pictures of cartoon animals. Lots of cartoon animals. In Babyland, I somehow manage to lose whole chunks of my day... and to what? I couldn't even begin to tell you.

In Babyland, the highlight of my day is a trip to the loo where I can gather my thoughts and count from 1 to 10. Very. Slowly. In Babyland, achievements are measured on a lower scale to that of the real world. For example, did I manage to have a shower and wash some clothes today? If so, then that has been a successful day.

My absence from the digital airwaves in preference for this land of tiny people with grasping hands and chubby legs has not been without its emotions. I love and I loathe Babyland. I can't get enough of the mini-hugs and milk drunkenness, but I yearn to do regular things with regular people generally larger than my dog.

As a reader recently pointed out, it's ironic that my less ordinary life has actually become more ordinary. I change nappies. I tidy rooms. I sterilise bottles. I hang seventy small flannels on the washing line (which, by the way, takes approximately two hours to do).

I've also become rather adept at sitting with a baby balanced on my lap, bottle in my left hand, TV remote in my right. I'm a modern man with many new-found talents and a new-found love for Ellen. I never knew she could be this good and I now know she's coming to Australia. Woo hoo.

You see I don't mind this 'ordinariness' because, in it's own small way, it's absolutely extraordinary.

A year ago, I'd never have believed I'd now have a two-month old baby, thriving and fattening-up, inquisitive and vivacious. With a long Sydney summer stretching out before us, 2013 will be a year of learning curves and, no doubt, some tears, but at the very least it will be a year of new beginnings and hopefully many more wonderful adventures (in Babyland).

Have you been to Babyland recently? Was it good for you? What goals or adventures do you have planned for this year?

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