HR Wanderlust


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.

3 thoughts on “HR Wanderlust

  1. Agree with Ratcatcher! I look forward to your blogs – and read them!

    Firstly, good luck with the next bit of your journey. Or stopping off point, if it turns out to be that. Plenty to see, do, learn, contribute and achieve at stopping off points!

    HR and business strategy are a powerful and much-needed combination given all the talk about lack of UK productivity. Having a strategy and motivated people to make it reality underpin everything – IMHO.

    This arrived at an interesting juncture for me. I’ve recently realised that I’ve been a nomad since childhood. I used to lie in bed looking at the clouds going past the window and pretend I was in an ark (was made to go to Sunday school, so yachts were a good few years away), in a gypsy caravan (ditto campers – long way off) or planning a trip on my bike down to Somerset from Lancashire (I was 7, but parents had distractedly agreed that I was welcome to go whenever I liked).

    I definitely enjoy the journey more than the arrival. Thankfully I always had field-based jobs with lots of travel involved, so could enjoy wandering whilst working. Had I been stuck in an office, or selling the same products for too long, I suspect I would have had to change scenery far too often for the good of my CV.

    My first word was apparently ‘Bowwow’. I think I had probably used others, but was looked after by an ayah until 18 months old – hence some earlier ones may have gone unnoticed.

    May explain my early addiction to travel and my ongoing love for dogs.

    Good luck and bon voyage!

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