This morning an email popped into my Inbox with the title, “Who Else Has Wanderlust?”. Fair dues to the marketers and the online activity monitoring software, it’s actually something I’ve been thinking about lately. It started with my Etsy obsession (which fits rather neatly with my shopping obsession), and the cute little necklace shown in the photo, which has been sitting in my favourite items ever since I opened my account a few years ago.
The dictionary simply defines Wanderlust as, “a strong desire to travel”. To me that doesn’t convey the magic, the impulsiveness, and the wonder, of wanderlust. People talk about the journey being preferable to arrival. The famous quote, “It is better to travel well than to arrive”, often incorrectly attributed to Buddha, is an example. I was once asked as part of an icebreaker quiz to answer whether I preferred the travel or the arrival. To me the answer is obvious. I am travelling because I want to reach a destination, otherwise I would not be undertaking that journey. I look forward to experiencing a different culture, new tastes, new experiences and, hopefully, warmer climes. I do not look forward to sitting in a stuffy car, boring airport or cramped plane.
I’m not taking a holiday abroad this year, which is probably a good job given that I’ve had to cut my planned annual leave short because I’m starting my new role next month. However, that very fact is the end (and the beginning!) of a journey for me, and I’ve been considering my metaphorical, organisational, wanderlust.
I’ve always been naturally inquisitive (my parents told me my first words were “who’s that?” and “what’s that?”) and I sometimes joke that’s how I found my way into my profession. Yet there are so many people who have zero wanderlust. It’s not just a cultural thing, it’s an individual thing. When people have no desire to see and know other things, they operate in isolation, sometimes to devastating effect. To me this seems, well, boring and I would be horrified if I was likened to such an insular character. However, I’ve worked in human resources a long time and perhaps towards the start of my career my introverted personality meant I was in danger of falling into that trap. Thankfully I was bitten by the HR Wanderlust bug, and never looked back.
That not only involved a constant thirst for knowledge, but saying “yes” to those projects the majority of people would turn down. I know some people strongly object to that approach but I’ve learned my lessons, and those new experiences opened my eyes to new perspectives. Although I believe I’m good at what I do, having a “comfort zone” is dangerous. For the last year I’ve worked not just in HR, but in Business Strategy. With a great mentor who let me pick things up and use my transferable skills (and some rusty ones) to make a success of things, I feel I’m leaving a lasting legacy I can be proud of.
So while I’m not going on holiday this year, I’m going on a journey. And a really big one at that. I won’t be a HR practitioner any more, I’ll be a HR teacher and researcher. I’m actually even excited about the commute (which will involve getting the train rather than driving round the corner) although I’m sure that will soon wear off! The destination however, I know will not. HR Wanderlust strikes again.