A survival strategy

At the moment I'm riding waves of change. It's exciting, from an outsider’s perspective. It's scary, experiencing it first-hand. And it's familiar, a game of career change that I've played before.


Anyone surfing similar waves might recognise what I'm going through: a mash-up of excitement, conviction and confusion.


And if you do know what I'm talking about, I would like to share with you my survival strategy for keeping afloat.


My survival strategy started like this: I curled up with a cup of tea and a notebook and let loose everything that I love. Not only in my professional life but in my personal life, my everyday life.


Now, every time I feel like I'm drowning in uncertainty, I go back to this list. Before you wonder, I don't believe in The Perfect Job. I also struggle with the idea of Following My Passion. But I do have moments where I can't stop smiling, or my heart sings with pride, when I feel so energised I actually bounce around a little.


These are moments that I love. These are moments that remind me where I should spend my time.


This is not a strategy to polish your spiel of the strengths calculated to give you an A+ in a job interview. This is a strategy to re-connect with what energises you.


Below is a list of my loves. These are what ground me. Who knows, perhaps they will spark something in you too.


I love throwing a handful of words into the air and seeing which ones land on the page. Sometimes they land in a delicate row. More often though, they land as a sneeze might; messy and unexpected. With words I can hold the reader captive, tell a story, share a sorrow. With words, I am never speechless. With words, I am never alone.


I love standing in front of a sea of faces. Perhaps it's a workshop of seven lounging in bean bags; maybe it's a collection of mayors from across New Zealand. I revel in the feeling of taking a breath. Pausing. And then binding together the room with shared thoughts and open challenges.


I love the mountains of Aotearoa. I can think of nothing better than roaming through sweeping slopes of beech and twisting valleys of fern. It takes a while to let the green wash away the scuff marks of the city. But then the mountains seep between my toes and I gain stillness and clarity. 


I love giving back a piece of the joy that my friends give to me. Once or twice a year, I fold pieces of card into square-shaped gratitude and send them to friends scattered across the world.


I love crossing the finish line of a race where I have taken my body into new territory. At that moment, I can see that all that training mounts into something bigger. Hours of adrenaline, days of vigour, weeks of energy.


I love devouring a book in one sitting. My mind races as I venture through another world. Hours slip past unnoticed, my cup of tea goes cold, the day darkens into dusk and still I turn pages.


I love asking why. I peer into a concept or an issue and often fall right in. As I tumble I'm searching every nook and cranny, burning to understand. I love this best when I'm with a friend. Why, why, why, we ask, until the answer falls out.


I love folding flour into a cake mixture. I love this especially when the memory of Granny comes back to me in that moment.


I love being challenged in my thinking. I love that feeling of being taken on a ride to swoop at an issue and ravish it. I particularly love when something comes at me from my blindside; when it stops me in my tracks to reconsider. My world cracks open a little wider.


I love ticking things off my to-do list. Come to think of it, I love creating my to-do list. I get enormous satisfaction from having things to do and getting them done. Order. Clarity. Action.


I love listening to my sister play the piano. I love jumping into the ocean after a run. I love the taste of chocolate peppermint slice. I love a workplace that crackles with energy. I love snoozing on planes. I love receiving an unexpected email from an old friend. I love the silhouette of mountains against star-lit skies. I love the warmth of bed when I wake up.


What do you love?

Anna Watson