Six months ago I was feeling mentally and physically exhausted by my work at Waterstone's. Every night I would lie awake in the small hours, worrying about what would happen if I lost my job. I was Mr Average, with a wife, two children and a mortgage. I was convinced that I had to keep working at any cost, otherwise everything would fall apart.
Then one day everything changed.
I had a rare moment of clarity and self-awareness and after asking myself what could be worse than losing my job, realised that the answer was keeping it. In a single moment, everything fell into place. I felt like Peter Finch in Network (minus the madness, I hope).
That's the short version, anyway. Obviously it was a little more complicated than that, but in a nutshell I stopped working in December and officially resigned a couple of months ago. Contrary to expectations, my world hasn't fallen apart, I still have a few quid in the bank and I'm so busy that I don't know how I ever found the time to do a full-time job. At the moment I feel as if I'm on a very long holiday, albeit a rather busy one.
However I'm starting to get restless. Once the novelty value of not having to go to work wears off, you are left with the question: what is my purpose? I do part-time voluntary work as magistrate and also have two young boys to keep me busy, but I feel that it is a little early in life to be semi-retired so I've started thinking about the next move.
The Guardian jobs section is particularly depressing. I've been through the adverts in last week's edition of Work and found a number of recurring words:
I used to be most of these, but not since I was under the age of ten. I had the impression that these qualities became superseded by things like empathy, wisdom, knowledge, integrity, commitment, compassion and vision, but perhaps they're not compatible with the corporate culture.
What is the answer? I'm not sure, but I don't think there's any point looking in the Guardian again. I shall have to think of something else.
In the meantime, here is Peter Finch in Network. 32 years on, this clip still strikes a chord: