helmetI’ve been contemplating a couple of work/life decisions in preparation for the implications. It’s the ultimate personal/professional dilemma.

They say never go back but I’ve had a niggling regret for 27 years that I never got a half century when I last played cricket. I fell short by 3 runs. So this year I’m reigning back on the golf clubs and taking up cricket again to try and get that elusive 50.

Many things have changed in 27 years and a recent reminder made me realise this isn’t something to be taken as likely as it once was. So I’ve invested in some proper equipment and this time bought a helmet. It’s not particularly comfortable but necessary, and peace of mind for those I care for and who care for me.

It struck me after buying the helmet that I’m doing something similar in my professional life – further investing in my wellbeing.

In May I will have worked at Leeds City Council for 30 years in various roles. My current one is really interesting but quite challenging with increased demands on reducing resources. In the last couple of years there’s been a lot of change and after April, when there will be even less money and fewer colleagues, I’m anticipating an even bumpier ride.

I see part of my role to help others adjust, look out for them and show the way; to impart some of the experience and knowledge I’ve gained and also to give something back to my profession of communications. I’ve learned it’s not always about what we do but equally about how we do it and how we are.

Outside of work my family is grown up and, dare I say it, nearly self sufficient. Wider family and friends are fortunately still healthy and active and I’m wanting to spend more time with them.

It would be wrong to say I haven’t thought about the future a fair bit recently as every week more long serving colleagues are sending round that ‘pastures new’ email. 30 years is a fair stint but I don’t want to leave just yet. The drive and ambition is stronger than for a long while but I can see continuing to try and make existing demands meet resources isn’t sustainable or a healthy situation for me and others for long periods.

Experiencing colleagues leaving makes you consider the potential for your own retirement. The R word. I wrote it down and have said it a few times this week too – one of those subjects we probably don’t talk about enough. Maybe there’s a perception it means we become less committed or ambitious.

In many ways I realised the cricket helmet represented the next chapter in my working life too. Whilst I‘m not quite done yet it’s that same feeling of being 3 runs short. 

So to prepare for what’s to come, I will be making changes in time management and better defining work and free time. I need that extra protection to cover me from the odd work bouncer, and maintain performance whilst at the working crease.

As from April I’ll be formally moving to a compressed week; working longer hours on four days and not working alternate Wednesdays to give me time to do things with family and friends.

Like the helmet, the longer days won’t be comfortable but necessary and better planned. I’d been trying to do this informally but for whatever reason, increasingly work related, it seemed to be happening less frequently.

Over time this might increase to every Wednesday and eventually reduced hours on the longer days. I suppose it’s me trying out the longer term exit strategy. Quite an admission, hence it being a contemplative sort of week and one which needed thinking space.

I’ll see how it goes and will no doubt be updating. If I get that half century then I will definitely be shouting about it.

I realise not everyone is able or lucky enough to try things like this or perhaps shares it so openly but we all need to look out for ourselves in different ways and make it happen.

I’m happy to listen and help if anyone is thinking of doing something similar.