When I started my current job, I told myself “5 years. I give this job at least 5 years.” I said that partly because I know that I’m a restless soul and up until now, my history has been about 3 years in each job. A wise mentor once told me that it takes at least 3 years to change a culture, and I think in all of those past jobs I kind of gave up at the 3 year mark when there was very little evidence of change. (It takes A LOT to change a government department – trust me.) Even though I learned a lot in almost all of those jobs, and had some great experiences, I need to be in an environment that values creativity and positive change, and mostly I wasn’t.
I also said it partly because I knew that in 5 years Marcel would have graduated from university and would be back in the workforce. I’ve always dreamed of breaking away from the 9-5 life and doing more freelance/consulting work (you can find out more about that at my website), and once our family was a little less reliant on my income, I felt I’d have a little more freedom to explore those other things.
Well, today is my 5th anniversary. I still love my job. And I am finally in an environment that values creativity and positive change (and philanthropy and global awareness and justice and a whole bunch of other things I value). And I can say, in all humility, that I have definitely impacted this organization in a positive way. Years from now, people will look back in the history of the organization and say “that changed during the time Heather was here.” Interestingly enough, change started happening in a fairly big way around the 3 year mark, which was definitely the motivation I needed to stick around.
It’s really been an incredible 5 years. Since I started here, I’ve learned a tonne about leadership, I’ve gone on some incredible adventures, I’ve managed some exciting creative projects, I’ve met amazing people, I’ve gotten to do lots of writing and photography and visioning and creating (and get paid for it!), I’ve hosted some big media events, and most of all, I’ve learned SO MUCH about my own passions and values and personal calling. Sometimes, it’s been really challenging (especially the part that involves leading a diverse team spread across the country), but mostly it’s been an amazing ride.
But… (you KNEW there was going to be a “but” didn’t you?) I’m starting to feel like I’m done. I’m starting to feel that restless feeling that I always get when it’s time to move on from something (even when that something is really good and is worth sticking around for). I’m starting to dream of other things. I’ve got a big dream project that I really want to sink my teeth into, but I need time to do it and there’s no way I can get there while holding down a full time career and trying to be a good mom and wife.
There’s still lots I can do here (and if the board approves a plan I’m submitting, I’ll be able to unfold a whole lot of new ideas and growth opportunities), so I’m pretty sure I can be happy here for awhile, but I’m just not sure if I’ll be fully satisfied if I have to wait too long to try out some of these other big dreams that seem to have camped out in my imagination. Patience is not one of my greatest strengths.
What about you? What are you dreaming about? How do you handle the waiting when the timing isn’t quite right for the unfolding of the dreams?