Turning points

The last couple of weeks before the Christmas break are often a time of contemplation (in the midst of an insane workload centred around the need to a) work the budget that the client found behind the sofa cushions and needs to spend before year end and b) field endless new business pitches so that the client can come back in the New Year to a new agency).  My particular favourites were always the clients who, when told that a pitch on December 23rd wouldn’t be possible, requested that you came in with a sheaf of fabulous ideas on January 3rd instead. Because of course agency people don’t need time off with their families…

But I digress. The point is that for some people, the break between Christmas and New Year is time that they spend considering whether to look for a new job at the start of the year. They will have found themselves in the dog days of December, wondering whether they are really in the right place – whether it’s the role, the agency or even the office location.  They’ve hoped that December would be quiet because they’re exhausted after a busy year, but inevitably it’s been busier than ever. They’ve waited for their Christmas bonus (if their agency is offering one), they’ve finished off the project or programme that they really felt passionate about, and now it’s time to stop and think about what to do next.

If you’re one of those people, the question you need to be asking yourself is whether your feet are itchy because of the time of year, or if you’ve come to a turning point. When you’re at a turning point, there’s no going back – there’s an inevitability about how you feel and you’re in a space where whatever your employer offered, you know it’s time to go.  And, it’s important not to get confused between the usual end of year malaise and the knowledge that you and your career are better served elsewhere. How do you know whether it’s itchy feet or the real deal, then?

In my experience, if it’s itchy feet you can usually sit down, pen and paper in hand, and work out the pros and cons for change in a highly rational manner.  You can envisage staying put if certain aspects of the role change, or perhaps if you can have a bit more flexibility in your working pattern. It’s something you could talk to your employer about – which is great, so go ahead and plan that conversation.

But if you’re at a turning point, you can sit and stare at your completely reasonable arguments and just – feel – that something’s pulling you in a different direction. Perhaps you can’t even articulate it, you just know that it goes beyond a feeling that the grass is greener elsewhere. Turning points are critical moments in your career, and I’ve often found that they come at times when you could, with a little effort, make your current situation work for you, or even go back to it if your new path doesn’t work, but the opportunity that faces you is singular. It’s the Carpe Diem moment.

Mine came when I had the opportunity to go into partnership with a former colleague and set up my own business. I could perfectly well have found a role within an agency and been successful there, but the chance to be my own boss was one that I couldn’t walk away from – it was my turning point and I’ve never regretted it. We all have those moments throughout our career, where the choice you make will predict the course of our future. Be brave, choose wisely, and whatever path you take, make sure you put your back into it.  I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a successful 2017.

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