I handed in my notice this week. I have done that a couple of times in my life, but this is different. I am not going to a new job; there is no pay cheque waiting; there is nothing out there but good intentions and interested people. While I’m taking early retirement, I’m not retiring, and, having received a salary every month for the past 40 years, that’s a rather scary prospect.
I have spent the past few years thinking about my future and what I am going to do with myself until retirement age and beyond, and more important, who is likely to pay me to do it. I have seven years before compulsory retirement age, but I have a mother alive and well at 84, and a father still working as a pharmacist in a local hospital at 86. You will understand, therefore, that, however uncertain life may be, long-term planning is called for.
What I do know is that I do not want to run an organisation’s Human Resources Department for another seven years. A training department, now that’s a different matter, but there are few of those opportunities around this area.
I knew that training would have to be part of what I do; I knew also that writing should play a role, but exactly what I could offer to whom was elusive. After a long time wondering, praying and generally feeling somewhat inadequate for anything, we finally have a plan.
Raymond Ackerman, of Pick ‘n Pay fame, wrote about four legs to a business table. Perhaps I am not aiming high enough, but I have three “legs” on my model. The first is training and development of people. This will take various forms, including part-time lecturing, workshops and seminars, and individual coaching and mentoring. The focus of the seminars and workshops will be management skills, so-called soft skills, writing, and other themes that may take my fancy (and that I can persuade enough people to pay for). Some will be my own material while some will be in partnership with quality training and development specialists.
The second leg is writing. Having spent 16 years working with journalists I know that I will not, in the short term, make a healthy living from writing (I am no J. K. Rowling). But my love for writing came as a serendipitous discovery a couple of years ago, and I have been indulging myself (with your help, of course, Dear Reader) ever since. Any form of writing or editing will do, and a couple of possibilities have taken shape.
The third leg will be general consulting work in the field of people management. There is a surprising oversupply of HR Consultants, from the highly qualified to the not so, in this small city, so I do not expect to do much here, but the other two “legs” may feed work into this area.
I am creating a website with its own blog called Simply Communicate where I hope to draw readers (and clients) to my wise words and helpful hints geared towards managers of people. Do pay a visit, but it will be a work in progress for a month or so. Although some themes are universal, the emphasis will be on the South African workplace, and managing people in the ever-changing landscape (some would call it a minefield) of this country’s labour legislation. Personally I never complain about the legislation. Its complexity (trying to bring order and certainty into the mess of human relations) and it’s employee-centred focus has helped provide me a good living for 16 years, and long may it continue.
With the internet, of course, writing is no longer restricted by geographic boundaries, so if you have any writing or editing to be done come 1 September 2012, do let me know, I shall have some time on my hands—not too much time, I hope.
I plan to continue this blog with its particular focus, so don’t go away.
- Who’s responsible for your career? Look in the Mirror (hrvirtualcafe.com)