I like setting goals. I enjoy the process of making a plan to deliver it. I enjoy even more the chance to tick off the goal once completed. Today, I took another small step to achieving one of my long term goals and it felt really good.
When I decided to apply to do a PhD it was for two main reasons. Firstly, I’d always wanted to do one. It was a big goal but one that seemed well out of reach – I hadn’t taken any serious steps in this direction with all of my full time work commitments – when would I ever fit it in given the pressure I was already under at work? Secondly, I saw it as a route to a possible second career – after retiring (or in hindsight after burning out!) from the corporate world that dominated my working life. I saw it as something I may be able to do but only well in the future.
It was not just the attraction of the long term project, the analysis, the research, the ownership of something that really mattered to me – all of which did fire the imagination – but the prospect of building a second career in academia with some teaching to go alongside my research.
That long term dream became a short term reality when I left my toxic corporate culture behind and set up AMJ Comms – at last I had the chance, time and room in my head to take on my biggest intellectual challenge. My experience so far – I have just entered my second year – has been fantastic. The great support and positive, friendly environment at the University of Liverpool (of which I am an alumni) and my superb supervisors has helped – as has the head room to immerse myself in my studying. The biggest surprise so far – a hugely rewarding surprise – has been the chance to teach sooner rather than later.
I had helped teach on both postgraduate programmes at the University of Liverpool and their MBA course and today added ‘undergraduates’ to my teaching experience as I started teaching at Liverpool John Moores University – again focusing on strategic communications, public relations, public affairs, marketing and advertising . This part-time teaching, alongside my part time PhD, part-time working for AMJ Comms, part-time golfing and full time wellbeing agenda and being a full time dad and husband agenda is providing me with the sort of portfolio of work and life balance that I would have laughed at as impossible not that long ago.
I am incredibly grateful to colleagues at both these two fantastic universities who have given me – and continue to give me – opportunities to teach, lecture, share my experience and meet fascinating people in my home city – just yards from where I was born. I feel very lucky. I feel very happy. I may have gone back to school again today but I feel like I’ve taken another big step forward in my efforts to build the perfect work-life balance and perfect portfolio of inspiring, engaging and rewarding work.