4 years ago, I realised that while we were spending around £200 each month on my daughters’ swimming, netball and gymnastics classes, I was spending £0 on my future career.
We were paying a nanny to take the girls to their weekday lessons. For the weekend classes, my husband and I would spend a couple of hours escorting them to their lessons where they learned how to do a decent frog kick, perfect a roly poly and shoot a hoop.
Adoring mum as I am, I had a fairly good idea that neither of my daughters were headed towards the Olympic circuit. But I was clear that I didn’t want to be doing what I was doing for the next 20 years.
When I noted down what was happening, it was the slap in the face I needed.
The slap in the face I needed.
It dawned on me that I hadn’t invested a penny of my own money nor a moment of my precious time improving my chances of doing more fulfilling work in my future.
Sure, I was attending work events and doing training courses paid for by my company (which of course were designed to make me better at my current job). But for the previous 3 years, I hadn’t prioritised my future career AT ALL!
When I was honest about it, my long-term future career hadn’t even made it onto my to-do list FOR YEARS.
Why the hell not?
1. I was flat-out making my then career-family combo work (at least to a level where I was neither afraid for my job nor breaking as a human. For the record, I had returned to work after my first daughter mid 2008 when all hell was breaking loose in the financial world).
2. I didn’t know what I might like to do in my future work.
3. I didn’t know what I might like to do in my future work.
So…I admitted aloud what I did know for sure:
And something changed.
A bit of common sense leaked in, as my Dad might say.
I sensed that I’d be in the same spot, in the same industry, possibly in the same company, in five years, if I didn’t do something.
Oddly, I’d begun to sense that the silent but deadly 50-year-old corporate toast phenomena would be rearing its ugly head sooner rather than later.
Little by little
I began to invest a little time and a small amount of cash into learning new things. Why?
To get my brain used to learning new stuff because I figured that would be key to my transformation. If you always do what you’ve always done…
To give me hope, through action, that I wasn’t going to be doing the same thing forever.
To give me, however small, a sense of control over my future.
It's never been easier or cheaper to learn
Here are some examples, many of them free, that I played around with:
· Duolingo – Fantastic free app for learning another language from scratch or polishing existing knowledge. (Brilliant for kids as well)
· Khan Academy – Fairly academic on-line courses on everything from programming to engineering and beyond.
· Udemy – Unbelievable subject diversity - Speed reading, cartooning, digital painting, social media marketing, photography etc.
· YouTube – all major players in every field have a YouTube presence. Try their free stuff first before diving in.
· Podcasts – like YouTube, every man and his dog in every field has a podcast or interviews on podcasts. There is so much opportunity to spend your commute learning about something that interests you. Listen while you are doing mundane tasks. If I wasn’t doing what I am doing, I would just walk in mountains listening to weird and wonderful podcasts every minute of every day.
Understanding what you don’t know, but need to
Over time, I started to get a sense of where my interests lay. Even though I wasn’t quite sure where I’d end up, I made the decision that I would be doing something for myself.
That one decision meant that I could get more specific about what I needed to know and began investing in me. Not bags of cash but more than zero.
Here’s a copy of my starting list:
· Public speaking,
· Work psychology,
· iPhone photography,
· Psychology of happiness,
· Article writing,
· Social media marketing,
· Running a business,
· Accounting in a one-woman business,
· Website designing
· Book publishing,
· Agile business,
· Audience definition,
· Life hacks.
If you are smart…
Do this while you’re getting paid a decent salary.
Use at least one of your commutes each day to do something future-focussed that interests you. Even 30mins a day, during your working weeks, adds up to more than 100 hours a year. Imagine where you could be and what you could know in 100 hours!
If you are to do anything different, you are going to need to exercise your brain – start before you need to.
You never know where you might end up!
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