This is my forty-second blog so I imagine that the title will now make sense to some of you. As a fan of Douglas Adams for, coincidentally, the last forty-two years, it seemed appropriate to reference his work in some way.
For those of you who have not made the connection, I highly recommend you read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a trilogy in five parts. Adams’ theory on the history of the Earth, while fiction, curiously makes a lot of sense.
I know that the world is heading towards a recession. I understand that there is going to be a bit of pain for many people thanks to higher interest rates, increased food prices, energy costs, housing costs and inflation pressures.
I’ll be ok though. I have no debt apart from a perfectly manageable mortgage, no dependant children and a secure job. Or so I thought.
On the Wednesday, 4 days before Christmas, my boss sent me a message asking me to dial into a Zoom meeting to discuss the future of the company.
I don’t know about you, but I have been around the block enough times to know that alarm bells should start ringing. It’s like when you are in a relationship and your partner says “We need to talk”. Nothing good ever follows “We need to talk”, and so it is with meetings to discuss the future of the company.
I like my job. I like the autonomy I have and the opportunity to get out and about around the country, although sometimes the travel can become tiresome. I like the fact that when I am working from home, there is no corporate dress code. To be fair, at home there is no dress code at all. There is only a requirement to put a shirt on for video calls, and they are not too frequent.
Long story short, the company I work for has four regional Territory Managers covering the country. Regional Territory Manager is a fancy title for what is basically a sales rep. New Zealand has two main islands, and the majority of the population resides in the upper half of the North Island. We have one territory manager based in the South Island and three of us in the North Island. The plan is to reduce the number of roles by two, leaving one to look after the South Island and the lower quarter of the North Island, and the other to look after the rest of the North Island.
New Zealand only has 5 million people in a country with a greater land area than the United Kingdom or for US readers, about the size of Colorado. Our population density is roughly 18 people per Km2 (47 people per mi2).
We sell a niche technical product range to a broadly finite market.
Much of our work is over the phone and by email, with semi-regular face-to-face visits to maintain business relationships.
One of the things that facing a restructuring focuses you on is reflecting if you actually want to keep working in the role. Many of us simply carry on in our jobs from month to month, year to year, without really considering that there might be something different out there for us.
Sometimes I think that it might be nice to turn up to a single place of work every day rather than driving around the country although I am sure that I would get bored easily and soon grow to resent the lack of variety.
Part of me thought “stuff it! I need a change”. The stubborn and stroppy voice in my head told me that after 10 years with the same organisation, it was time to move on.
Then the level-headed, inside voice considered the alternatives. At nine years away from retirement age, did I want to start a different role as the new guy? Did I really want to be stuck in an office day after day?
I reflected on what is important to me, and as I have got older, the ability to not have to wear clothes is increasingly important to my well-being. While I have to wear clothes for face-to-face meetings, there are often times in my job when clothing is not required.
Regarding the restructure, those of us wishing to be considered for the two remaining positions are invited to submit our feedback to the proposal and re-apply for the role. Submissions are to be made by January 20th, with a final decision to be announced by January 27th.
I will be applying for the role, and although I feel that I am in with a strong chance, there is no guarantee that I will get it. If I am successful, then things will be different and I will have to re-evaluate how to best manage the territory. If I am unsuccessful, then perhaps it is appropriate to use another Douglas Adams reference,
“So long and thanks for all the fish”.
Come the end of January, I might be looking for work opportunities. I’d be open to lots of things, but perhaps not working in a clothing store.
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.
It's always difficult to change directions late in life (after 50). I ended up taking an early retirement in my late 50s and have lived mostly on investments since. Live a few miles out of town and now with Starlink I have high speed Internet again. It's also a good place to be outside naked all summer.
I do hope you find some productive work to do to replace the job you currently have.
Whatever choice you make Badger I’m sure it will be the right one for you. As you allude to, the expectation of starting down a new path close to retirement is fairly daunting. Wishing you well however it pans out.