About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about “The Big Quit: Breaking Free from the 9 to 5”, and drum roll… I’m going back! Well, sort off. Since the job, that I'm starting in January 2024, is 21 hours a week, I have a certain flexibility, and time to work on side projects. I'm so excited about this job! And I also clearly feel that I'm starting from a different place than where I left off 2 years ago. As the quote by Belle van Zuylen goes: "Coming back is not the same as staying".
When I left my fulltime job for the national government 2 years ago to live a nomadic life in different parts of Europe, I never had rigid ideas about how that journey should turn out. Of course, I had hopes and desires, but the main idea was to stay open and see how life would unfold, when I let go of (too much) control. One of the things I learned is that starting a business whilst fulltime traveling is hard. And also that I long to make an impact on a bigger scale than that I can make through my 1 on 1 coaching and mindfulness events alone. Working for a bigger organisation with a reach, a network and an impact, is a way to have a positive impact on a larger scale. Combining this with the fact that I long for more steadiness; a place to call home for a while, and a steady income, made it a reasonable decision to look for jobs within the traditional work field.
How to be part of a system that is in drastic need of change?
The fact that we’re critical about something, doesn’t mean that we have to turn our backs to it, or that this is even completely possible. We are part of many societal structures and systems, whether we like it or not. So the question for me is: How can I be part of an largely outdated work system that is in drastic need of change? I hadn’t given it much thought whilst travelling, but since being full on in job search mode for the past 6 months, a clear vision has unfurled: a desire to turn my frustration with an outdated work system into my field of expertise. How to find new ways of working that serve individual ecosystems, which in turn serve the ecosystem as a whole?
Finding purpose in pain
I have always felt that much of our purpose in life is closely related to the experiences we went through, especially those that were painful, frustrating and that have shaped us deeply. Since I can remember, I have questioned the way things were organised in society. In high school, I questioned so many things about our educational system. I couldn't understand why I had to learn things without understanding how it might be useful later on in my life. Neither did I understand the rigid 50 minute classes, or the fact that we learned most things by listening, whereas there are many modes of learning, and people have different preferences in this regard. Later in my working life, I didn't get that people were so focussed on my physical presence more so than to what I actually contribute at work. Or the fact that we are expected to show up every day in the same productive manner, even though we, espcially us women, are cyclical beings, that have every month days where we ideally need to rest. I often felt like I couldn't be myself or that my questions and observations were not welcome, or even heard. This left me feeling deeply unfulfilled.
Building new systems vs working on the transition
Even though I was very ciritical of the systems I was part of, I have also learned to adapt, and be succesful in those systems. I feel a big contributor to my study results, is not that I was so studious, but rather due to my talent to understand systems, and to meet the expectations of those in power. Thus, I feel I am someone with one foot in, and one foot outside of the system, which gives me the ability to build bridges between those that are in and those that have fallen or chosen to be outside of it. Whilst there is good work to be done in building up new systems and organisations, I also observe a need to help transition old ways to new ways of working. I see it as part of my mission to raise awareness, kickstart conversations, and generate support for new modes of working. This reminds me of a podcast interview I recently recorded with Hanneke from Intransities. We talk about the need for idealists in the traditional work force, and how they can maintain their balance and sustain their impact whilst facing resistance.
I feel like the phase ahead of me is one of integration. Integration of the “new” me, to bring what I have learned and cultivated within myself, into the workplace. I feel grounded in my vision, my values, and what I’m here to bring. Showing up with all of me, and precisely by doing that, being an inspiration and ally to those that feel like they cannot be themselves within the system. I know reality is often more unruly, so I’m so curious and excited to see how this will play out.