Last week you were lapping up the sun in Ibiza/Hawaii/Cornwall, your children/dogs/siblings were all playing nicely, you really got into your new hobby of screen-writing/windsurfing/wine-tasting and life was good. Fast-forward a week and chances are you’re reading this back at your desk, wondering what happened to those feelings. It’s no surprise that September is one of the most popular months for online job searches (second only to January with the “New Year, new career” headlines screaming out everywhere). After a rose-tinted summer holiday, getting back into work and finding that elusive yin yang balance effects even the best of us.
After working for 15 years in two huge global companies I started wondering if I really had my work/life balance right. Since pausing my career progression to have two kids I realised how exhausting and all-encompassing work had been to me. I wanted to make a change but wasn’t sure how. I took a new job at a different kind of company in a new sector, and although it ticked some of my boxes, something still wasn’t right. Before I found Pilotlight and moved to the charity sector, I forced myself to answer some crucial questions. If you’re at a similar crossroads, they might help you too:
How important is your career to you?
Firstly I tried to work out how important my career was to me: is it a means to an end or a fundamental part of my identity? You’re likely to be somewhere in between like me, but considering which end of the spectrum I’m closer to helped me answer this question.
What are the deal-breakers?
Then I started thinking about what the deal-breakers are when it comes to my job: what do I value most? For some people climbing the ladder makes them tick. For others flexibility is vital. Perhaps having autonomy is key? Maybe you need to love the work you do because you enjoy working hard to fulfil your potential every day? Maybe work is simply a way to give you enough financial security while you perfect that side-hustle you’re working on? Everyone’s different, and for me it was a mix of things.
What impact do you want to make?
And then there’s the question of impact. In today’s world, making a contribution to society is a pivotal aspect you can’t ignore. More and more of us are coming to the realisation that, even if flexibility, autonomy or financial freedom are key, there’s no point in any of this unless you’re making a positive impact on society. After all, what good is a large pay-packet, a tightly-knit team and a free bar on Thursdays, if you can’t see the positive difference your daily work makes to the world?
This is something that resonates with me at this stage in my life. I feel incredibly blessed to have two healthy, happy children, a supportive husband and a group of friends who all helped make the decision easier for me.
So when the chance arose to join Pilotlight, I knew it was the right choice. I’m not suggesting everyone should drop their career and work for a charity (though it’s worth giving it some thought!), but Pilotlight itself offers programmes where senior business executives can dip their toe in the charity water. We work with charities across the UK who battle a wide range of issues that really matter (things like unemployment, racism and domestic violence to name a few). Whether charity work is part of your next career move or you just want to give something back, the impact our programmes have on our Partner Charities isn’t only a feel-good, but also has proven results for all participants.
I’m really pleased I’ve made the move to the charity sector. Knowing I’m making a difference has positively impacted my work/life balance no end. If you’re reading this feeling that your yin and your yang aren’t quite as composed as you’d like, have a think about those questions. Maybe, like me, you’ll give the charity sector a go and you’ll start making a legacy that’ll make you (plus all those children/dogs/siblings) proud.