by Shannon Talbot
In addition to being more present, Sick Kids also gave me the gift of stillness. And stillness for me means time to think and reflect. During this time, I reflected on three questions: “Am I healthy?” Am I happy”? “Do I feel fulfilled?” My answers? “Hmmmm, kinda.” What sort of answers were these? I knew I had to dig deeper into each question.
When visiting hours had ended and Jackson was on the verge of sleep, I curled up on the guest bed in the hospital room (as best you can curl up on a slippery, narrow bed but still grateful for the bed vs. the reclining chair some rooms had) and reflected. I was at peace knowing Jackson was well looked after and an arm’s length away, Zachary, my youngest, was in good hands at home with my husband and I had nothing to do and nowhere to go. Silence crept in as the noises of the hospital wing faded into the background and I sat in the stillness to ponder these three questions.
Am I healthy? At that time healthy for me meant exercising (more to come on that in later posts) so in other words, do I exercise? Well, I did try a circuit kickboxing gym for a bit. I loved it as it was only a 30 minute work-out, you could drop in at any time and the trainers were amazing. The problem was I wasn’t fit enough to do it and found myself really out of breath and nauseous either during or after each work-out (and by each work-out, I mean about six in total as that’s how long I lasted). I put my membership on hold and planned to go back when I got fit. Yes, you read that right – I wanted to be fit in order to attend a gym to get fit. Trust me, I’m shaking my head as I write this. And then there are the excuses for the other gyms and studios I attended a handful of times – the class times were too late, there was no time to go before work, after work meant time with family and friends ….and the list of excuses goes on.
Second question - am I happy? This answer is two-fold. I am super blessed with an amazing family and friends and during the time at the hospital, they went above and beyond. I am also blessed professionally. I’ve always had great jobs and done well financially. But what was starting to become clearer was that being blessed and having money doesn’t always equal being happy. And sometimes the more we feel blessed, the more we think we should be happy which leads to increased guilt that can weigh us down and make us feel ungrateful.
Third question - do I feel fulfilled? Do I get out of bed each morning and look forward to the day ahead? The answer was no. All of a sudden, things became a little clearer. I looked forward to time spent with family and friends and my hobbies, but I did not look forward to work. This was a problem. My career is an area that is really important to me and I strongly feel that you should love what you do, plus I had over 25 years of work ahead of me. Ugh.
Upon returning to work in the new year once my son was better, I found out that I didn’t get a job promotion I had interviewed for a few months prior. My first reaction? Relief! Relief? This was a promotion I had worked towards for a year. I knew this was a sign that I needed a change.
I also discovered my self-confidence was holding on by a thread and if I didn’t fix it, I wouldn’t find a new job. I had lost myself, my voice and my passion.
And so, my journey to reignite my passion, professionally speaking, began.
I signed up for an incredible 3-day career retreat on a farm outside of Toronto that really helped guide me to find out what drives my passion and an action plan to find it again. I finished Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming Michelle, where I was greatly inspired by her big career change so much so that I mimicked her process of exploring what career move would reignite my passion by networking.
Networking, where for the first time in a long time I put myself out there and actually admitted to people that I wanted a big change. I was nervous to admit I wanted to try something different from banking after 15 years in the industry. I was worried people would tell me it was impossible or that it would get back to my employer that I was unhappy or looking elsewhere. But the more I shared my story and what I was looking for, the more people surprised me by wanting to help. One cup of coffee led to a new contact which to led to another new contact and before I knew it, I had narrowed down what I was looking for based on what was identified in the retreat, and I was on track to find it.
During my networking experience, an amazing thing happened - the people I met with had faith in me and for the first time in a long time, I felt proud of all that I had accomplished and could feel my confidence coming back. I started having recruiters contacting me for jobs I would never have thought I was qualified for but yet the interviews would go well. And the best part was that for the first time in a long time, I was being ME when networking and interviewing and not the person I thought they would want me to be.
A few months into the process I was connected with a recruiter who after I shared the list of what I was looking for in my next role told me he had the perfect opportunity for me. One that matched my list – and it did. I was able to move from Banking to Advertising and bring with me all the skills I had developed over my career plus my newly regained confidence and passion.
If I can share one piece of advice from my career journey it’s this – don’t focus on an industry, company or title when you’re searching. Focus on the qualities you’re looking for in a role, boss, leadership team and company. I never would have thought about working for an Advertising Agency but by having the list of qualities I was looking for, I was able to find this role and take that next step in my career where I now manage the relationship with one of the Agency's most important clients.
And as for my feeling healthy and happy? Stay tuned to future posts to find out!