A year ago, Labor Day weekend marked the start of one of the biggest transitions in my adult life.
The Friday before that holiday, I walked out of my office at the Deseret News for the last time after spending more than 13 years with the company and more than 20 years in the field of journalism.
The day after the holiday, I started a new job — really a new career path — at a different company.
As I relaxed and enjoyed the long weekend this year, I contemplated everything I had experienced and learned during the last 12 months. Needless to say, it's been more — and different — than I expected.
First and foremost, I have learned that there is, indeed, life after journalism. Of course, I haven't fully left that life behind, since I still write this column. I'm grateful that I've been given an opportunity to keep my hand in the game a little bit.
However, it's been 12 months since I was involved in writing or editing an actual story or posting breaking news on a website. And you know what? I really haven't missed it.
As I left the paper, that was one of my biggest worries. I thought I wouldn't be able to get through a workday (or more realistically, a workweek, as some days in the newsroom could be fairly mundane) without the adrenaline rush that comes when a big story is breaking.
While being part of reporting a major story is awesome, and I'm grateful for my former colleagues who still work so hard to bring us the news, I don't need that thrill anymore.
Instead, I'm excited about little moments at home with my family. For example, I'm finding that watching my second-oldest daughter's face light up after I help her figure out a math problem is every bit as satisfying as getting vote tallies on the website quickly on election night. Even more satisfying, in fact, because nothing is better than making one of your children smile.
As a journalist, I often had to work nights, weekends and holidays, so I missed some of those family moments. It was a sacrifice I needed to make then in order to do the best job I could do. My new occupation generally doesn't require that kind of after-hours commitment, and I've learned to cherish the gift of time.
But that's not to say my new job doesn't keep me busy. On the contrary, when I am at office, I'm enjoying the challenge of learning to work all over again.
I now work for a healthcare company, which means I've spent the last year basically learning a new language. Medical terms I'd never heard 12 months ago now roll off my tongue with relative ease (even if I still don't always understand them), and I'm able to rattle off acronyms that would have been meaningless to me in my past life.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not an expert in my new career. Far from it. I learn new things every day, and I still make mistakes now and then. (The people who work with me might say my errors are more frequent than that, but I'm giving myself the benefit of the doubt.)
One of the joys of this change has been the learning process. I've been thrown far, far out of from my comfort zone. I've been forced to research topics I'd never contemplated before and process information in new ways. I've been asked to stretch my mind and my creativity. I've also had to develop new management skills while working with people who didn't know me at all a year ago.
As I've mentioned before in this column, my natural lack of patience — especially with myself — has made some of this difficult for me. I want to know how to do everything correctly from the first moment I start anything new, and that's just not possible when you're making such a huge change. But again, I feel like I have grown in this area during the last year, and I'm glad I was forced to mature in this way.
I'm also grateful for the opportunity I have had to meet and work with some amazing people I never would have known otherwise. While I still miss my talented, hardworking and fun friends at the News — people with whom I forged relationships in the fires of long hours, high stress and deadline pressure — I've been truly impressed by the people at my new company.
I still work with writers and editors, now of the medical variety. I've been delighted to find that, to a large extent, writers are writers and editors are editors, regardless of their fields of emphasis. They're my kind of people, and the group I'm managing now is superb. They're smart, talented and driven to succeed, but they're also fun, friendly and patient with clueless newcomers — lucky for me.
The bottom line is that this first year of the rest of my life has been educational and enjoyable, both in and out of the office. I feel like I've found better work/life balance and have become a better husband and father. I also believe that I've become a better employee, coworker and manager thanks to the challenges I've faced and tried to overcome.
It's been a wonderful new beginning, and I'm looking forward to more working, learning and growing in the months and years to come.