Reflections of a home-based consultant living on the edge of the woods

“Be patient.  Good things come to those who wait.”

This is the Chinese fortune cookie wisdom I received Sunday night after eating out in a town nearby.  The town of 10,000 people is the hub of the region I live in which most likely has more trees, wildlife and clean running water than it does people.  Yes, I am feeling a little isolated.

My small town on the edge of the woods

I wonder if it’s the remote geography, working alone in my attic during the dark November days, or lack of strong professional networks to share the daily grind with.  Being patient is interesting advice as I have been thinking about my professional life lately and how I can enhance it from good to great as well as being less isolating.

For anyone that works on issues related to improving people, places and making positive change, you could imagine that doing this alone in your attic, mostly by typing into a computer box, could be a lonely place (despite my online friends – thank you friends :-) ).  Given that it’s a not so bad trade-off for living next to bears and powder skiing, I have been seeking advice lately to find that magical work-life balance.  Here are some of the nuggets that I plan to work on in the New Year:

-       Have a filter for work you take on.  Here are four criteria my inspiring colleagues at Bright Green Learning use: Impact, Creativity, Interesting, Learning.  I may add people/team to that list.

-       Network.  Go to conferences to meet people you want to work with and keep in touch with them.  This may mean dedicating two phone calls a day as follow up which is very possible (That is my brothers advice and he owns a successful HR magazine so I’ll take it).

-       Develop a local network of professionals who may also be looking for people to connect with.  I will use my community building experience to start this in 2012 with the domain being ‘professional development’ and the side benefits of deeper relationships and networking (this is an idea that has been on my mind since I moved here – time for action).

This is only the start to my 2012 ‘good to great’ list as my mind is burgeoning with ideas for connection, social media is at my finger tips and I should not forget my widespread community of friends, colleagues, alumni…who I should make more time to get in touch with.

Blogging is important to me as it is a place to reflect and share thoughts with others.  The professional world (even for someone living at the edge of the woods) has lots to offer.  So do I wait patiently for taking my professional life to the next level or work to make it happen?  Drop a line if you have a thought.  My top of mind response is that it will be a bit of both.

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4 Comments

Filed under blogs, Kootenay Life, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Reflections of a home-based consultant living on the edge of the woods

  1. Great post as always, Michelle. The comment about making time for followup really struck home–definitely room for improvement there! I work out of my home for a small non-profit, so have some of the same issues that you do–no daily face-to-face interactions, and the vast majority of interactions with both my coworkers and project partners are virtual. Lately I’ve started pondering spending at least half a day a week working at a cafe or the library, just to be out and surrounded by people. I wonder about creating a “virtual water cooler” site where those of us who work alone most days could gather occasionally, or even at pre-set times. Could be via skype to make voice and video easier, or just via chat.

    As far as waiting patiently vs. working to make things happen, I agree with your “a bit of both” answer. I’ve found that there can be a long lag time between when you start making connections and getting yourself out there and when the possible work opportunities start coming in, so patience is definitely in order, but I’ve also found it useful to actively go after the sorts of projects I want. People may have projects they’ve been thinking about but not acting on, and a conversation with a willing and able partner could be the nudge they need.

    I also just want to say that although we’ve never met, and only talked once (when I interviewed you for the CAKE case studies), I love your approach to work and life, and I think there’s a lot of need in the climate change world for folks like you with a creative sensibility and a non-scientific background.

  2. Michelle Laurie

    Thanks for the encouragement Jennie. We should definitely organize a skype water cooler conversation soon (michellelaurie on skype). I would love to take a virtual coffee break with fellow #homeoffice colleague and hear what you are up to!

  3. Hi Michelle, I liked your post, particularly as I am also someone who sits up late at night “typing into a computer box”, and in spite of the fact that I get to work with Lizzie which is wonderful, we are not always in the same room while we work (even though we live about 3 km away from each other!) So keeping up with other people who work like we do, is a great way to connect and I am always to connect with you virtually on things, and vice versa!

    • Michelle Laurie

      I am writing into the box right now, late at night and very happy to be connected virtually to a lot of great people in the world. The online connections change our geography in some ways and change my perception of space and time…I like that. And I really appreciate the insights that you openly share – thank you!

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