In my early-thirties I set myself a specific career goal – to be a CIO by the age of 40. It was a very specific target, time-bound and measurable in the good tradition of SMART. I achieved it when I took the role leading IT at Imagination, actually somewhat ahead of schedule at the age of 38. Since then I’ve been working without quite such a specific goal in mind: I know I want to be able make a difference, to have impact, and to enjoy and be enthused in my work, but I’ve not necessarily had a clear vision of success.
Whilst the CIO goal was really good to motivate myself (just in the way that, say, passing A Level Music drove me to go from Grade 6 to Grade 8 on Saxophone in about a year in my teens), looking back it was maybe a bit too specific. I’d confused, perhaps, milestones with a vision of success. Once I had achieved it, then what? The same role again, maybe at a bigger scale, and then repeat until retirement. It’s the reason I decided to make the move to my current role – new challenges in a new field.
But with what vision? It’s been troubling me.
I needed to find something challenging, but within the boundaries of the achievable, and importantly something that will sustain me through this role, the next and beyond. I’ve written before about the inspiration that I’ve had in life from my granddad. It’s, in a way, to him that I’ve turned to give myself a new focus as I (shudders to admit this) enter the second half of my working life.
The work that granddad did in the 1970s in Zambia to establish their first satellite telecommunications earth station helped to provide the country with crucial links to the rest of the world. It was so important that it was celebrated by the nation in the form of a stamp (amongst other things). And that’s what my new goal is – to do something in my life that is significant enough to be celebrated on a postage stamp.
Who knows what it will be? I certainly don’t yet. Will stamps still exist by the time I achieve whatever it is? That’s probably the single biggest risk. But anyway, as advanced notice, if anyone knows anyone who works in the right department of a postal service, do let me know. I’m now need to be busy working towards something that will be suitably deserving…