When I told folks in June that I was voluntarily leaving my job as global director of public relations at a NYSE-listed tech company — a position that provided me with a decent salary; access to top executives; travel to Hong Kong, India, Germany, London, New York City; a talented PR team — reactions ranged from the obligatory “we’ll be sorry to see you go because you’ve been such an asset to the company” to the never-understated “you are out of your freaking mind.”
When I explained I was launching my own writing, editing and strategic communications consulting business, the good luck wishes were plentiful and sincere, even if they were silently punctuated with skeptical eyebrow looks.
Let’s not kid ourselves. We all know the labor pool is overflowing with out-of-work writers and editors hit hard by layoffs and downsizing, and who have since branded themselves self-employed rather than unemployed. Anyone who would purposely jump into the deep end of that pool is more
likely than not to drown in the overcrowded water.
What the hell was/am I thinking?
Flashback: A few months ago after a series of particularly unhappy, stressful weeks on the job, I began trying to figure out what I enjoyed the most and what I looked forward to doing, as well as what was turning me into a bitch on Sunday afternoons when the coming week’s mental to-do lists started intruding earlier and earlier in the day.
Realization: The tasks I didn’t dread, the ones that gave me the most personal satisfaction and allowed me to get lost in my work, were the ones having to do with writing. Devising a messaging plan. Determining the best channels to share a message via assorted channels. Creating documents and testing different approaches. Tweaking and re-tweaking the words, sentences and paragraphs into an organizationally sound document that precisely and concisely meets communication goals.
Give me a mess of a white paper written by an engineer or a poorly written HR policy document to fix, give me an employee communications plan to develop, give me an opportunity to create an article for a trade magazine — I’m a happy camper.
The words won. The pool feels good.