“So now what? My next challenge was to consider what I wanted to do … what path did I now want to follow?
And the big question of how do you move forward after your 40s, once you’ve decided that
life needs a dramatic change of course?”
Moving beyond the notion that I was in control of every step of my life happened early for me. My path had some wonderful twists and turns – some of my doing, but not always. In October 2004 I finally heard a phrase that I really connected with, from then Australian Institute of Architects – ACT Chapter President, Catherine Townsend.
The phrase – ‘portfolio career’ – is about collecting the skills and experiences that suit who you are and where you want to go. Interestingly, I haven’t always seen before or even during a “step” as to how it would connect the dots (of experience, skills, interests), but certainly I’ve seen the stepping-stones when I look back.
Spanning more than 25 years, from graphic designer to working with words in the communications sector, across profit, nonprofit and government – federal and local, in Australia and Canada, it has been a delightful journey, most of the time.
The push that helped me take this step began through a challenging situation five months after being headhunted to an organization in a different city from where I was living. It made me realize that as much as I had enjoyed the past 12 years of work, I simply didn’t want to keep doing it for the next 10 years. I had loved the majority of the work and projects I’d worked on, and the people I’d worked with, but I was done.
So now what? My next challenge was to consider what I wanted to do … what path did I now want to follow? And the big question of how do you move forward after your 40s, once you’ve decided that life needs a dramatic change of course?
How do you find a place to land?
I went back to the skills I’d used for years in facilitating idea development and started to brainstorm, taking minutes or hours as time permitted to let ideas flow. It took three weeks – with moments grabbed when I was home – to get enough out that I felt I had something to work with. My dining table became covered in a rainbow of post-it notes, each with only one idea on it. I’d given myself the ability to build ideas, and rebuild them, as I processed options.
Moving notes about, I worked through combinations of ideas – looking at them, leaving them for a while, only to return and moved notes around again. A plan would start to develop and I’d dive into some research to see what might be possible – adding post-its as needed as information opened up. Some ideas stayed, some developed, some discarded. But all the while I was moving forward. Slowly, quietly, over the next three weeks, ideas came together – my energy renewed as I worked on my future.
Through all of my brainstorming, three words keep coming up – travel, creativity, and fun.
They might seem like cop-out words, but they weren’t. They aren’t.
- My family had always travelled – my English expat mum raising her family in Australia made sure of that.
- My studies in visual communications had given my creativity a medium when I was younger, but that path had changed over time and I knew I needed to find a new way to express myself.
- And fun… this was the word that came to me after one of my best friends died in a car accident 20 years earlier. He was 29.
In June 2013 I finally bought a DSLR. If I was going to have fun being creative as I travelled, I wanted a camera that was up to the task of capturing the big and small stories I’d longed to tell – the types my English grandfather and I used to tell each other as we looked at the world.
All of this process were the steps, for me, towards not only wanting to be creative again, but also giving myself permission to choose the time to rediscover my creative energies. …but more of that another time!
If you’d like to see more of the process – how it unfolded in photographs, check out the Galleries section of the site. In there you’ll find galleries for Italy, Australia, Canada, other European adventures, and links to some articles I’ve written over the past couple of years. I hope you enjoy! Let me know if you find a photo you love – I truly welcome your thoughts.