The Need To Challenge Yourself
In March 2016 I effectively took early retirement from my IT consultancy business and became a fulltime carer. Since then I have focused my time on addressing both my disabled parents’ health needs and the logistical and administrative task of running their home. It keeps me busy to say the least, but I find that being organised, proactive and maintaining a tight routine is the key to staying on top off it all. However, what this role doesn’t provide in any shape or form is any serious intellectual challenge. Scheduling appointments, re-ordering medication and liaising with the District Nurse Team and Doctors Surgery mainly require the use of soft skills. It is gratifying to be on top of these tasks, but it doesn’t have the same satisfaction of a rigorous technical conundrum.
I have always maintained that the educational process doesn’t end the moment you leave school or university. Everyday presents opportunities both big and small to learn something new. Our lives are a continuous ongoing project of self-improvement, or at least potentially so. Sadly, not everyone embraces such an ethos and certainly in recent years, academia and knowledge per se are openly eschewed in some quarters. People want a seat at the top table without actually earning such a place, but that is a separate discussion. I personally enjoy learning and acquiring new skills. I have been raised to embrace curiosity and whenever I encounter something that I’m not au fait with, my first act is to google it and from there explore the matter further.
I have been somewhat discombobulated of late. I can’t think of another way to describe my feelings. I have focused on my parents’ requirements and have ensured that their needs have been met, but despite trying to organise my writing schedule, I have not posted as much new content as I would like. After some personal reflection I have concluded that I’m not being sufficiently intellectually engaged at present. I enjoy a technical challenge, which is one of the reasons I gravitated towards IT as a career. This is absent from my life at present and it is proving to be detrimental to my state of mind. So I’ve decided that it is time to try and take onboard a new project of some kind or learn a specific new skill. Obviously, I have to pick something that can dovetail into my existing daily routine, but I think if I am sensible in what I choose, I can accommodate it.
I recently received the latest brochure for my local Learning & Enterprise College, which provides a spectrum of adult education courses in my Borough. However, the majority of courses are for essential academic skills that I already have. The few leisure focused courses are mainly arts based or socially orientated which are fine but not exactly what I’m looking for at present. Then of course there is the cost to consider. I have clear budget and must adhere to it. Hence if I pursue a new technical project it cannot require an excess of hardware or software. Ideally, I would like to undertake any studying at home, although the social aspect of going to a class and meeting other like-minded individuals has a lot of benefits. However, at present my biggest obstacle is that I haven’t yet decided specifically what I want to do. All I do know at present is that I need to apply my mind to something challenging, as I don’t care for the drifty, listless alternative that is currently on offer. I’m sure a suitable solution will present itself soon.
It is a curious paradox, that although having stepped away from the trials and tribulations of a traditional job, there are aspects of it that I miss. Obviously not the office politics or human drama but the chance to test myself mentally. I think that irrespective of whether I need to work or not, I shall always require some sort of project at some level, to keep my nature placated. Although I enjoy leisure time and understand it’s importance as I get older, I simply don’t wish to stop using my mind. Pursuing a challenge of some kind keeps me sharp and focused and I’m not sure if it would be good for me to have that totally absent from my life. Hopefully next time I write on this subject matter, it will be about what new skill I’m learning or project I have embarked upon. And I firmly believe that it will provide me with the clarity that I feel is currently absent.