Monday, 31 May 2010

Crazy Quilt Career Advice

If you are in mid-career right now, does your past look like a crazy quilt?  A crazy quilt is a patchwork quilt with no design.  When you look back at the twists and turns your life has taken, do you find yourself asking, what happened to those wonderful plans I had when I was 20?

I know I did.

I looked back at the decisions I made and wonder, "What was I thinking?"  In my more charitable moments, I excused myself with the thought of how young I was at the time, how little of life I knew and, frankly, how little of myself I knew.

Middle age is the time when those thoughts come home to roost.  It gets harder to brush them away with the thought that you can do better next time.  As a friend said, "Middle age is when you realize that if you're going to accomplish anything in this life, you'd better start soon."

Look at the crazy quilts in this blog post.  They are haphazard and random, each piece bearing no relationship to the others.  And yet, the eye finds patterns.  The mind realizes that there is careful design behind the apparent randomness.

This past weekend, I attended a regional conference as a representative of the national office.  I took my trumpet along.  One of the wonderful things about working for a church is the amount of music we have at meetings.  In the middle of the afternoon, when eyes tend to glaze over, there's nothing better than someone saying, OK everyone, time to rise and sing.  Anyway, the musicians were more than happy to let me play along and the delegates were happy to hear the old favourites I tend to play.  It softened my image as the accountant from the national office, particularly in these days of budget cuts and staff reductions.  The music helped people see me as a person, not just an accountant.  It made me more approachable.

We have only so many hours in a life time.  When I look at how I have spent mine:  accounting, computer systems, family, charities, writing, church and yes, trumpet, it looks like quite a crazy quilt to me.  And yet, all of those things have come together in my current position.  Looking back, it's as though all those odd career detours I took were leading to this place.

When you look at your past, I hope you too can make some sense of your crazy quilt.