You Are Never Too Old To Learn
Two Months Into My Revolution, Changes Are Already Happening.
When I started my revolution (or period of self-unemployment as I have christened it) two months ago, I knew things needed to change, I just didn’t realise how much. I didn’t realise it would lead to me discovering lifelong learning.
I think a lot of my friends and even some of my family were a bit taken aback with the decision to take a sabbatical. I’m sure they started picturing me laid on the sofa in my pants, watching ‘Loose Women’ while singing “I’m busy doing nothing, working the whole day through trying to find lots of things not to do” very slowly in case I broke out in a sweat, then having a nap half-way through because I found it all too tiring.
I’m really sorry if that is the case because nothing could be further from the truth.
I’ve been really really busy, but good busy, you know? I’ve learned so much in the last nine short weeks. By taking the stress away, I’ve been able to refocus, re-energise and see things in a much clearer way than I think I have ever done.
My priorities are straight. I know what I want from life. I am still figuring out the small print of how exactly I am going to get there, but I will, of that now I am certain.
Here are just a couple of the things I’ve been up and what I’ve learnt from them.
You are never too old to learn – Lifelong Learning
I hated secondary school. Formal education with its petty fascist restrictions and hell-bent ambition to crush any free-thinking from its charges didn’t sit too well with me. I wanted to ask ‘why?‘ a lot and understand how decisions were made, not just take dictation off of a dusty, battered blackboard. As such I think I was quite probably seen as a right royal pain in the arse to try and teach.
Earlier this year I was diagnosed with both Dyslexia and Dyspraxia (basically, it means if you want to see me get confused, then surround me with maps or spreadsheets). In all seriousness, it just means I have a completely different style of learning. It’s one that now I fully understand and have fully embraced. I am now what is commonly known as a proper swot. If only this had been picked up on when I was at school, who knows what difference it might have made…
Anyway, recently as part of this adventure, I have been attending a series of masterclasses at the Guardian offices in London. The classes have covered a range of subjects including ‘How to pitch features to editors’, ‘How to build a brand for your blog’ and probably the most daunting but most fascinating ‘The science of storytelling’. I love this sideways kind of thinking. I spent the day understanding how the human brain turns life events into dramatic narratives. Then, discovering how to exploit the brain’s natural storytelling processes within my own work. Exploring the nuances of neuroscience and psychology on a Sunday afternoon at the back of Kings Cross station in the swanky offices of a huge news organisation was a new one on me, but something I’m glad I did.
Stop Holding Yourself Back.
It’s not just the masterclasses where lifelong learning comes into play, I’ve also been learning a lot about myself.
Once every couple of weeks I hang out with a lovely lady called Kate Tilson (or ‘Treacle’ to her mates). She calls herself a life coach. Utter hokum- that doesn’t even begin to touch what she does.
Outside of laughing at my stupid jokes and making a great cuppa she has – with no safety net and only her trusty felt-tips pens to hand – been challenging me. Not to a sneaky arm-wrestle (although I reckon she wants to) but to understand how repetitive cycles of negative behaviour and thoughts can simply be broken down. That your life can be relatively simply reorganised and reinvigorated.
It’s simply about how changes can be put in place so that your dreams and priorities can be planned and actioned so you get to live the life you want. Now I don’t just sit around thinking ‘What if…’ and ‘I can’t do that, can I?’ I am certain of what I can do, and more importantly, what I don’t want to do more of.
Lifelong Learning Leading to Opportunities
I want a life where my job not only just keeps a roof over my head, shoes on my son’s deliciously sweaty feet and food on the table. I want a career that puts fire in my belly, gives me opportunities and the flexibility to expand and focus on a life outside of the constraints of the 9 to 5. So that’s what I am going to get and so far it is paying off. Just three weeks into my no-work sabbatical I landed my first client (well, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse).
I’m now in charge of PR and Editorial for a fantastic young music production agency. My work now involves being part of a team of really rather spiffing fellas called Atom. I’m meeting some of my musical heroes and helping hundreds of happy, smiling people in make my home-town dance their bot-bots off at brilliant live events. It’s a wonderful feeling seeing crowds of people have a great time and knowing you had a small part to play in it. If I hadn’t quit my job a couple of months ago this wouldn’t be happening.
Perhaps you’re stuck in a rut, discovering yourself wondering ‘is this my lot in life?’. Or maybe finding you have a nagging itch inside your head then go and find someone that might be able to help scratch it like I did with Kate. Genuinely, it might just be one of the most sensible decisions you ever make. It was for me, and the real story hasn’t even started yet.
So strap yourselves in kids, it’s going to a bumpy ride – but one helluva adventure.