The Overthinker's Guide to a Meaningful Life

Next month, it’s five years since I left my last full-time job with Havas People. To mark the occasion, I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learned since then. If you’re reflecting on your own work right now, maybe it’ll help.

The biggest difference for me in 2021 compared to 2016 is that I don’t define my identity by my job title any more. Some days I coach. Some days I run workshops. Other days I write or provide creative consultancy or lead brand storytelling sessions. The thing that connects these activities isn’t a job title or business name. It’s me – and how I show up every day.

For the first few years it wasn’t easy. I made way less money. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do. I knew I had the opportunity to do something meaningful, but at that time it was just a cliché. It was the kind of wishy-washy thing everyone says when they leave advertising. I survived by relying on what I knew I could already do – and some generous support from my partner.

I took a big step forward when I trained to be a coach. Mostly for what it forced me to see about myself. It hit me that for years all I’d done was think! I spent all day working with words and thinking up concepts – and most nights over-thinking them.

Over the past five years, I’d say the most important thing I've learned is to feel more. It's directly led to me showing up with more presence. I’m more patient. I feel more certain in who I am and what I can uniquely offer. I’m more insightful – and probably creative - than I ever have been. I’m not saying the overthinking has completely disappeared. But now it’s more background than foreground.

I’m not saying this to brag. I’m far from the finished article. But right now, I work with renewed purpose and a sense of play. I feel like I’m just at the start of the contribution I can make. Not bad for a 50 year old ex-advertising creative.

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