Friday Notes #92 — Ten Years Left of Professional Life

It is up to me to decide what my next ten years of work will be made of.

Friday Notes #92 — Ten Years Left of Professional Life
Image from Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

During a recent walk in the forest with one of my dear friends, we discussed retirement broadly. At some point in the discussion, we talked about how many years of professional life we thought we had in front of us. After a quick calculation, I concluded that I had ten years left. This sounds like a long time, but I guarantee you it isn’t the case. Ten years will fly in a snap. For example, I’ve worked at the current organization for five years, and it feels like I started there yesterday.

Looking back at my career, I can divide my pro years into four main segments spanning more than twenty-five years: the beginning, the long journey, the transition and the exploration era. I’m currently working in a company which makes me feel like an explorer. It may sound surprising that I’m now in the exploration phase, but it pertains to the nature of my current job. And I love it. Learning as much as I do after all these years is a blessing, an opportunity.

The beginning phase is when I started working for real after my university years. I had a few jobs in IT and moved from a small city named Sherbrooke to a much bigger one, Montreal. My job had me travel between the two cities, and I wasn’t happy with that. I eventually left because they couldn’t make a better work arrangement for me.

Then the long journey began, for nearly twenty years in the same public sector organization. It was a job where I learned a lot and slowly moved up the ladder, gaining expertise and experience. In the last few years there, the work climate became toxic, I had the feeling of not being in the right place all the time, and I felt like I was missing opportunities. I had to go. I left.

It was the beginning of a quick and intense transition that lasted a year, and I found myself in a job market where things changed quite a bit and were a bit different than I expected. But it was much better than I thought. I had to learn a new organizational culture, learn to work with new colleagues and make new friends. It was a year of constant stimulation, and a new world of possibilities opened up to me. But the unexpected happened: I received a new job offer that I couldn’t refuse. So, after a quick stay of less than a year, I started a new journey, the current one.

I’m currently in my fourth segment: the exploration stage. After close to five years in my current company, I’m not only feeling at the right place at the right time, I’m learning more than ever every day, and I think I make a difference around me. And yet, I wonder: what the next ten and last years of my professional life be made of? How do I want to spend the rest of my career? Should I move on and try something else? What am I missing that I cannot get with my current job? I think this is a question we should ask ourselves as often as possible, at the beginning of our career but also all along and especially near the end. The good thing is I’m currently defining my current job as I see fit.

When I’m wondering about what could come next, there is something that I didn’t touch: teaching. In the last stretch of our professional journey, isn’t it the obvious and logical next step for many of us to teach the following generation what we’ve learned?

Aaaah, I can smell the greener grass in the neighbour’s backyard.

What did I learn this week? I started an experiment with Exposure, a visual storytelling web service that could replace Smugmug. I like the end-user experience so far.