Big Break: Two Months Later
You may remember me from such classic LinkedIn articles as “Big Break: Getting Started” and “Big Break: One Month“. Although as I type, I realise the latter never actually saw the light of day, which, having penned it under the influence of a glass or two of Malbec and some COVID-related delirium, was a surprisingly lucid (and lucky) move.
Two months ago I left my job at Aston Martin to take a break away from the world of day-to-day work, re-focus my intentions and aspirations, and embrace the things I enjoy. I initially set a nominal timeline of one month for the extra-curricula activities. Writing, creating, podcasting… watching all nine seasons of Seinfeld in a single week. That sort of stuff. After which, I had planned to knuckle down, do the sensible thing and get to work on the next career step.
I’m delighted to say that after two months of thinking and some very indulgent me time…
… I am still on that break, and I still don’t have my next step thrashed out.
And most importantly – I’m still incredibly relaxed about this course of action.
While it felt prudent to place a deadline on myself to apply some level of structure to this time away, in my heart I knew I was never going to rush into anything. You don’t get many opportunities to step back from the intensity of work and do the things you love, so I’ve cracked on with those, and found some real joy in doing so.
As many of you will know I’ve always had a bunch of creative endeavours on the side. Some of these have proven to be pretty successful (you might even say “award-winning” *big fat brag*), but over time, I’d allowed my commitment to these to lessen. They weren’t so much money-making projects as they were outlets for my creativity and personal brand. But they were still very important.
So I made a promise to put some effort back into these things, creating more sustainable mechanisms and assets to support them in the longer term, while learning as many new skills as I could along the way.
Recently I’ve spent time better understanding the world of YouTube and its ecosystem, while working on my own content creation skills. It’s such a vast and influential space, but I’d never fully utilised it for my own audience. I’m hoping to change that as I launch my own channel, supplementing the writing I do around Coventry City with regular video content.
In order to gauge appetite for this kind of content I shared the trailer for this new channel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and somewhat amazingly, gathered a few thousand views. My ego took that as a pleasant sign – both for the material and justifying the effort I’d have to put in to make it work.
You can take a look at the trailer if you like, although it’s basically football-related gibberish.
Somewhat hilariously I’ve also been playing about with merch creation and the print-on-demand space. The podcast sold a limited run of t-shirts a few years back, and with Coventry’s fanbase of some sizeable potential – there’s an opportunity to develop a closer brand affinity with the audience by creating some slightly-less-rubbish tat than usual. So I’m working through this at the moment.
Beyond that, the free time has allowed for plenty of learning and skills refresh, which is far more rewarding than I’d anticipated. My motivation for knowledge has never been higher. I’m reading and consuming an incredible amount, something which I always struggled to make time for previously. It’s been a real mix of topics as well – anything from SEO to video lighting techniques. I’m gradually moulding my digital and content skillset into a fuller appreciation of the entire area and filling the gaps, while gaining valuable emotional insight into the areas that really grip me, and where the potential is for my future professional endeavours.
I’m very aware how fortunate I am to be able to do this. I’ve also had some interesting and exciting offers, opportunities and conversations come my way in the meantime – which is both flattering and comforting, knowing that I should have a network to utilise when that moment comes.
But there is always a lingering concern about being away for too long. Will I be forgotten? Will the opportunities be there when I’m ready? Will my reputation be the same?
To be honest, that has been the trickiest part of this process (that and letting go of the old role of course!). It’s difficult turning down cool things, especially when you don’t have a job. I’m only human after all and have a new kitchen and bathroom to pay for. But as I move into this break’s most concerted phase of focus and definition, I’m sure that come the end of it, and if I do this right, I’ll have found the clarity and motivation I’ve been looking for.
As I assess things right now, the likelihood is I will be looking towards some sort of freelance opportunity, which should allow me to better define the work I want to engage in, and hopefully the balance between job and personal creativity that I’ve always wanted as well. But as you will have guessed by the fluid nature of this entire post, that’s not a concrete decision either.
So, for now, the creativity, the fun, and the learning continues.