There’s a fork in the (career) road

I don’t write, I don’t write, and I don’t write (here, anyway) and then I hit a point where I feel absolutely compelled to write. I burst.
My desk in my study is cluttered. I can’t stand clutter. There’s so much going on right now, I have project files all over. My in-tray overflows. I guess this means I really need to get a wriggle on removing the curtains, having shutters installed and paint the walls (get rid of the hideous yellow) so I can put shelves up to store stuff. Oh, I can’t wait to put shelves on walls. The joys of being a homeowner. Anyway, this post isn’t about my renovation plans for my home.

Hip replacement recovery. The (losing) Mum stuff. New role at work. I’ve been thinking a lot about myself as a professional (within the broader scope that is my life) over the last few months. I haven’t shared my thoughts along the way because I wanted to gain a handle on what it is that’s shifting. I haven’t shared until now because I wanted to piece together a picture of what my thoughts mean for my career. A few things have triggered this serious thinking about future directions.

The ‘blogging’ conversation

During #blogjune this year, participating in the conversation about blogging (or lack thereof) nowadays prompted thought about the value I was gaining from blogging as a professional development activity and what benefit others have gained from reading Flight Path. Is the value of what I write still there?

I’ve recently started a blogging course to build and develop my other blog called ‘Notebook + Tea’. Initially, this blog was an outlet to write about everything else I wanted to share about travel, personal updates and tips on life topics in general. Posts are sporadic and seemingly random to anyone else but me. What this blogging course has taught me so far is the importance of having a narrative. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end to a narrative. A narrative is the central focus for a blog. Readers need something to follow. After looking through some library blogs in particular, I realised a narrative is what they tend to lack and where the momentum has come to a grinding halt.

At first, I couldn’t believe I never really thought of a blog in that way. To me, a blog was like an online diary. It is that, but there’s a story attached. And this had me wondering, what’s the story I’m trying to tell here at Flight Path? Where is my story going? What’s going to happen next? What’s my common thread? What do I want to write about? Where do I want to publish? Has Flight Path flown its course?

Reviewing the Professional Development Plan

Back in July, I started to review my personal professional development plan. I recorded what I had achieved and what I wanted to achieve but didn’t. I reviewed my ePortfolio and realised how far I have come in developing into the kind of information professional I want to be. Though I’ve been absent from conference programs. I haven’t presented or completed any independent research in the last 18 months or so. In the years I’ve been a new information professional, I’ve spoken about professional development planning and entering the profession. While I’m still interested and passionate about new information professional issues and making the most of professional development, I can’t always be a new information professional. And I don’t want to be the once energised and enthused newbie who eventually faded away to insignificance.

The review showed me an opportunity to ask ‘what’s next?’ What do I need to learn now? In what area/s do I want to become an expert? I’ve done the ‘new information professional’ thing, madly trying to learn and experience whatever I can. Now I realise, I need to be a bit strategic about which development opportunities I take on which will enable me to head in the direction I have come to know I want to pursue. After some ‘sampling’ as a new information professional, I can move forward and make more informed career decisions. What am I going to create? What am I going to research? What mark do I want to leave? What difference do I want to see?

The review also revealed to me a common thread in my professional life – design. Growing up, even though I wrote poetry and short stories, my sister was always dubbed ‘the creative one’ because she drew, sang, and played the guitar. So I developed a belief that I wasn’t a creative person. Now I realise I was and I am. Just not in a way that you could see or touch or listen.
Even before I started the LIS Masters course, I pulled apart processes and information management systems and put them back together again, adding value and making them more efficient. I have created filing structures and processes from scratch. I’ve re-created an information architecture and a framework diagram that can be used for conversation and education. I’m not a conformist when it comes to existing schemas. I like to make my own and design them in a way that achieves a desired outcome. I will challenge what’s ‘always been done’ if it doesn’t make sense or I think business information needs require re-assessment and so the process that happens around them needs to be re-engineered. I’m an outcome-driven, evidence-based designer.

A spontaneous planning session

One evening I got to thinking about my career and situating it within everything else I wish to achieve, such as an active lifestyle post-op and writing a book. These other priorities will take attention and time away from my career activities. This was an important realisation because if we just plan for the career, we can overload that plan, jam packing it with projects and activities that everything else either falls by the wayside, or we can feel crappy that we didn’t achieve everything we set out to in the career plan. In this one evening, what I wanted to achieve and how I was going to balance projects over time, suddenly became clear. Some things I can do now. Others will have to, and can wait until I’m ready.

I feel I’m at a turning point in my career. I’m entering the next phase. I think it’s taken a while to get here due to other things happening in my life – its truly been a nightmare, an emotional roller coaster. But through it all, there is hope. There are steps I need to take. I’ve recognised the fork in the road, identified the decisions which need to be made and I’ve come up with a plan to achieve what it is I really want. In career and in life.

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