Work Transitions

This post is the first in a series of articles on the decisions and transitions we make in our working lives, and what at times holds us back from doing so. The series will include resources and links that will be of interest in particular to mid-career professionals who, like myself, are reflecting on their work ahead.

Growing up, I would often have discussions with my dad about what makes for fulfilling work.

My late father was a dentist. It was the only job he ever did, committing his practice to serve patients accessing free dental care through the NHS. It was an opportunity to make a difference, which without doubt he did in many people’s lives. It was (at least initially) well remunerated and enabled him to give me and my siblings the head start in life that we took for granted.  

But it was hard work, which he found ever harder to enjoy the longer he did it.

He constantly struggled with an appointments system that often resulted in him working through his lunch hour each day, in part because he was so diligent. He did not want to turn away anyone who requested treatment — whatever the time of day. 

The ever-greater administration and paperwork was so stressful too, that in part it very nearly killed him. He attributed his first heart attack to it, which he suffered aged only 43.

Interestingly though, despite his experiences, he never decided to transition into any other work. Whether this was out of fear, lack of certainty or a desire for stability, I never did truly find out.

Following his heart attack, he took semi-retirement and then retired as soon as he could. Thankfully he lived a further 30 years, having some time to enjoy his retirement.

I am now the same age as my dad was when he had his heart attack, a fact that has focused me to make the most of the work that I choose to do, ensuring it is both fulfilling and meaningful, and where possible allowing me to contribute to the lives of individuals too.

Since first establishing The Social Enterprise in 2007, I have made various work-related transitions including:
– co-founding an early years social venture
– setting up a food social business
– chairing the board of two charities
– serving on the board of four other charities
– completing two fellowships (at NYU in Social Entrepreneurship, and with Clore in Social Leadership)
– qualifying as a Systems Psychodynamic Executive Coach at the Tavistock.

Thanks to the hard work of my dad, and the opportunities it provided for me, my working life has certainly been varied which has helped to make it more interesting and satisfying. As such, I feel I know something about decisions and transitions related to work.

Dad at work

Which is why through my psychodynamic executive coaching I now focus on supporting people to reflect on and explore decisions and transitions related to their own work.

Together we explore the changes they can make in their own lives by pursuing new work, or we work on adjusting their perspectives so that they can engage in their current work differently and more positively.

As we both learn more from each other, I will be reflecting on some of the challenges that they face through forthcoming posts on my The Social Enterprise website and here on my LinkedIn page.

If you’re thinking of making a transition or change in your working life, and possibly feeling held back in doing so, please feel free to message me if you would like to learn more as to how I can help.

If you are moved to make a donation, then Take Heart is a great cause that my dad supported which helps patients and their families at the Yorkshire Heart Centre.

About thesocialenterprise

The Social Enterprise was established in 2007 by David Russell to develop creative and innovative approaches for individuals and organisations that seek to deliver social value. We work with charities and businesses, and our starting point on any project is to determine how we will generate a return on investment in our services – whether through a more effective working approach or delivering greater social impact.
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