The early years of my career were spent implementing information technology projects that enhance or streamline business processes. The later years have been spent on building organizational capacity for project management and business transformation. My career has been fulfilling, rewarding and challenging. It has turned out far better than I could have ever possibly dreamed of, providing me with growth and learning beyond measure.
I have spent thirty years in the public sector, helping others get things done and providing step-by-step support through the business of change. For the past few years I was beginning to take stock and to think about what would I do after my career – what would the encore to such a journey look like? What would my own transformation from working life to retirement life be?
I needed to figure out how to use my change management expertise and become my own change agent.
With five years left until the sunset of my phenomenal professional journey and my retirement sunrise looming in the horizon, I felt a sense of urgency! The last five years of my income impact and determine my retirement income – this was my last opportunity to take a time out – unpaid sabbatical of sorts and to figure out how to use my change management expertise and become my own change agent.
Gap is the appropriate descriptor to use, as a gap is the space between here and now, and there and in the future.
This sabbatical represents my “Gap year” – preparing me for personal transformation. It is the space where transformation takes place. When describing transformation to my clients I would refer to it as the journey between the “as is” current state and the “to be,” future state – THE GAP. In personal terms it is the journey between “Where am I now” and “Where do I want to be in the future”. These two key questions, given my experience and background should be a breeze to sort out.
There really isn't a one size fits all approach to change.
I had thought about planning it all out and having my roadmap ready to implement on day one of my sabbatical – but I was torn between taking the familiar structured approach and letting it develop more organically with just some rough ideas about what I wanted to get done. Much like the two diverse approaches I often see my clients take in organizational change management – both approaches have their merits and there really isn’t a one size fits all approach to change. It is PERSONAL and SITUATIONAL dependent on the individuals involved and the state of the environment in which the change is taking place. Already the struggle was beginning. I decided on a blended approach, armed with lists. I had accumulated a long list of things - little things, big things, meaningful things, silly things, reconnecting with friends, more time with family, more reflection time, getting more exercise, improving my health, attacking the household to do list. But as I looked at the lists I realized that it wasn’t about filling the gap with the 30 years worth of inventory items from my “to do” lists and things that hadn’t gotten done because work got in the way. My gap year had to be more purposeful! It is meant for me to catch up with my own life, to reflection, to be vs. to do!
It has taken four months to slowly let go of the doing – being a professional project manager – this has been the biggest challenge! At the base of it all – like any good organizational transformation it is about redefining the vision, mandate and purpose. At a personal level this means letting go of what I am for what I can become!
The hardest part is to take the first step across the chasm.
If change happens in the gap then I will take time to explore that gap to understand what happens there! I’ve found so far, that creative transformational energy lives in the gap! The hardest part is to gather the courage is to take the first step across the chasm, remembering that journeys do not have to be undertaken alone and that there is excitement is embarking on any new journey.
There are many resources from which to harness the necessary tools required to cross the chasm!! I am looking forward to tapping into the CoachChat feature available through the Change Designs Members Portal – to help keep me on track and moving forward into this brave new landscape – revealing itself through the rabbit hole of change!
Read Susan's next blog in this series - "The Middle of Transformation" where Susan describes how to deal with the middle of a transformation - when the beginning is just a distant memory, and the future is no longer clear.
Susan Ksiezopolski is a project and change specialist. She is currently taking a break from 30 years of working in the public service and recently published her book. Visit her Facebook page