The Biggest Year Yet!
Updated: Aug 11, 2018
Have you ever been in a job interview and they ask that dreaded question:
'Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?'...
'Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?'. Sigh, Gulp. The honest answer never sounded exciting or impressive and the 'right' answer never felt very genuine: ' Why, sir, I'll have added so much value to this company that I will have been promoted several times.. etc etc' Boring.. and you're thinking, God, I don't even want this job, or that future. I always HATED that question.
It's a Tuesday in July of 2018 and I’m on a train going to Macclesfield from London Euston and I am thinking through all the events of the last 18 months and I feel like I've been on a roller coaster. For the first time in my life I can see a plan ahead of me which is absolutely thrilling and all consuming. I could happily elaborate on the answer to that question now, in fact I could easily spend an hour talking through several iterations of where and what I possibly might be doing in 5 years but I definately wouldn't get the job! This has been the most significant year of my life so far in many ways and I didn’t even really see it coming.
The world beyond Dublin
I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. I went to school and university there. All my childhood friends are there, my family are there for the most part except for some siblings living abroad. In 2015 I was living just 5 minutes walk from my family home. I worked quite nearby too and used to cycle to and from work. It was the most content I’ve ever been. I never doubted what I had or what I wanted for a second. I never ever questioned it or wanted more. I was going to do my best at that job and climb the ranks if I could. I would hopefully someday soon save enough money to buy a house and get married and have kids, obviously, just because, that’s what you do. I used to think of having children as something you do when you have done all the things you needed to do first to grow into an adult. I felt I had a lot yet to see and do. Despite a long term deep contentedness I, like so many people, started to dread having an ordinary life even if it was to be a happy one.
Let the chaos commence
I am a creature of habit and crave routine much of the time but in the middle of 2015 my every routine was challenged. I started working on a global IT project for my company which demanded a lot of travel. At first it was a few times a month, heading from Dublin to London Heathrow to participate in a workshop session for example. Then it was almost every week going to places like Ashby de la Zouch and Macclesfield. In the Dublin office I was helping to establish a governance structure for the project and we were buying in consulting services and deciding which finance system to implement. In the UK offices I was helping conduct interviews to identify the best project manager and other team members we needed at that time.
I remember at the office Christmas party in Dublin that year talking to the then finance director. He asked if I had considered the impact of all this travel on my personal life not to mention the increased travel requirements that inevitably lay ahead. I didn’t flinch. This was simply what I needed to do and I saw it as a privilege to be exposed to and contribute to such a fundamentally important project. I also spoke, around that time, to a woman who we had hired temporarily to put in place some structures and documentation. She said that this was an important project. She said I would be a different person when I came out the other end. How right she was although I didn’t understand what she meant at the time.
By July of 2016 I had been travelling from Dublin to Macclesfield every Monday getting up at 4 am and back every Thursday night. The emphasis on work over home life was increasing and I found my self more and more disconnected from Dublin. I was so excited by all the new people I was meeting and admired their experience and skill believing I could learn a lot from them. Throughout that summer I was travelling to the US every month for two weeks each time for workshops and I was exhausted. But I saw New York for the first time and New Jersey and some other lesser known but, to me, exciting places. It wasn't all good though, I
felt quite out of control. My old routines were thoroughly crushed and my new normal meant a lack of routine; living in hotels, extended periods away from home and a job description which changed on a weekly basis.
Sometimes change is the most difficult thing
Looking back now its kind of ironic that my job as a Change Manager inadvertently led to me making some enormous changes in my personal life...
There were lots of big, difficult and significant life choices coming up for me around then. It's strange how truly content I was for such a long and then suddenly a combination of factors created a catalyst for change and from that point on my life changed course forever.
I had also met someone new. We fell in love. We had worked together on the project. He worked for the consulting company and we got to know each other gradually through work and we were never more than friends until the end of 2016 but on from there it went. Then things started to accelerate. I packed up my stuff and moved out of Dublin. In early 2017 I moved into his place in Verbier, Switzerland, a world class ski resort. Verbier is absolutely beautiful with breathtaking mountains and valleys. The two of us were travelling to and from Macclesfield each week and the journey from Geneva airport was a hell of a lot more tiring than the one from Dublin.
The biggest year yet
2017 was a blur of project work, workshops and travel to the US. The line between work and personal time was quite undefined but at weekends we were seeing lots of new places. Going to France and Italy, to Mauritius, Scotland, Ireland, Dusseldorf and Cornwall! I had never seen so many places.I started to learn Kitesurfing and considering things that were never available to me. But by March of ’17 we both decided all the travel was getting too much and we needed to have a base that was closer to work. We decided to move back to Jim's home town, London. We gave his tenants six months notice and we moved in there in September. The move was very complicated and quite stressful, trying to coordinate moving things out of Switzerland by truck to be received by a guy painting our place in London while we drove across France stopping in the Champagne region for some essentials......!
We can’t remember where it began
Jim’s Dad had sailed and owned sailing boats. Jim loved sailing and had covered some ground in the Mediterranean delivering yachts etc. I, by contrast, have never sailed or been around the sailing culture. I honestly cannot remember the first conversation where the seed of thought was planted towards this dream we are now pursuing. We joked about it more than anything to begin with. We went to our first boat show in South Hampton in September ’17. Taking off our shoes to peruse yet another shiny yacht. We had the usual conversations, Catamaran vs Monohull, new or used, Caribbean or Mediterranean. We fell in love with the very first Cat. We stepped on with no real prior knowledge or anything to benchmark it off. We left the boat show and words like ‘pipe dream’ were bandied about. But we had crossed a line at that point and we both definitely wondered if we dare bring these dreams any further.