Friday, May 8, 2009

Weekly Column: A New Adventure

Sometimes I get so caught up in the speed and utility of social media that I forget the basics.
I’ve been a bit concerned lately, that perhaps the focus of this blog was shifting too far away from its roots. I took some time and flipped back through some of the weekly columns. So far the writings here have run the gamut from recent gems like how to use Twitter to be a better public servant to some more basic reflections about renewal.

I think the reason it is so easy to get swept away in the tide of social media is because the type of communication it facilitates feels so natural (at least for me). Moreover the social media mantra of "share!" is something so simple that, in my opinion, cannot be shouted enough from the soapboxes of "open bureaucrats". Finally, if renewal is truly a conversation, then all these posts, varied in topics as they are, are simply a small part of the renewal conversation.

Unfortunately despite the ease of use and utility of social media, it can't do or be everything. It can't, for example, help me plan my career or advise me on what the best next steps are for me; even when my use of it undoubtedly had something to do with the opportunities before me.

You see, to be perfectly honest, I am facing a bit of a dilemma and I don't know what to do.

Pen and Paper

I guess step one is to, as my wife suggested, sit down with a pad and a pencil and write out the dreaded 5 year plan, then the 10 year, 15 year, etc. Yet, despite providing similar advice in my scheming virtuously presentations, I am much more of a create-it–on-the-fly-and-see-what-happens kind of guy. So sitting down to do "the plan" is not really my style. The other piece of advice she offered me, one that I am more likely to heed closely, was to break out my ‘lessons learned the hard way’ file and see if they can help to provide any insight into where I do and don't see myself going in my career.

People often say that being in demand is a good problem to have. While they are probably right, the difficulties in making decisions are heavily nuanced, especially given that the options being considered are similar in some respects but very different in others - like apples and oranges.

Without getting into the details of my particular situation, I do want to share some of the things I am considering in hopes of expanding both that which you consider to be relevant, as well as providing you with an opportunity to alert me to anything I have missed. Note that the order below is not deliberately prioritized but is in the order I originally wrote them out, which may in fact say something about how I prioritize them.)


  • tasks, responsibilities and opportunity to lead
  • trust/freedom to create my own space
  • prospects for making an impact
  • manager and direct colleagues
  • work-life integration
  • classification (and thus salary)
  • layers of approval
  • location (geographic, proximity to home and commute time in relation to current)

All of the above peppered with ongoing advice and experience of others (in no particular order) including @dbhume, @pcollin, @mcmphotography, @ContrarilyYours, @dbast to name but a small few...

So what did I miss?

After writing this, I feel like I should write down a pros and cons list to help me through my decision…oh wait I did; and technically I didn’t use a pad and a paper, but GCPEDIA.


Mike told me that he felt this column was incomplete, and you know what? I agree.

This week has been mentally exhausting. Personal circumstances and juggling career decisions has taken its toll.

But I think it is important that I am willing to admit it.

In essence, I wanted to do three things. The first was to take a step back from all the social media talk; the second was to show how difficult it can be to make career choices in the public service. The third was to try to learn something from all of your experiences.

So in closing, while I may have already made my decision to embark on the next challenge (I started this column unsure and finished it having confirmed my intent to move on), I would encourage you all to leave me a comment, or drop me a line and let me know what you think.

What are some of your biggest considerations when considering your next steps?

I think that it is an important conversation for public servants.

Thanks for reading.

Note that while we work as public servants this is entirely our own initiative and what we post here does not necessarily reflect the view of the government, our offices or our positions there in.

Notez bien que nous travaillons commes functionnaires, ceci est entièrement notre propre initiative et ce que nous publions sur ce site ne reflète pas nécessairement le point de vue du gouvernement, de nos organisations ou de nos postes.