Finding Work At 50: My Hugh Grant Life

It’s tough to stay motivated when you’re trying to change career – so, like Grant’s character in ‘About A Boy’, I’m proud that I haven’t gone under   

A man and boy slump on the sofa

I DID 150 Side Planks as I was microwaving my porridge this morning.

As the oven chimes sounded to announce that the two minutes of cooking were up – and I gasped through the last half dozen reps – I reflected that I was getting pretty good at time management.

I’d done all the morning chores and waved goodbye to the wife and kids; I’d fitted some intense body-firming exercise into an otherwise idle moment; and I was on schedule to start work at 8.40, as usual.

Except that there wasn’t actually any work to go to…

When I say ‘start work’, I mean start work on this blog – which pays me nothing and will probably continue to do so for all eternity.

And when I’ve finished this post, I’ll spend some time looking for a real job – because it’s been almost a year since I decided to retrain and look for work as a website writer.  

But you can’t look for jobs all day, especially now the process is largely done online.

Having already updated my CV, it took me just two hours this morning to download it to various job sites, scan all the relevant jobs in London and apply for the best three, each with a bespoke covering letter.

And then I write, but even that takes less time than it used to.

Sometimes, it takes just 45 minutes to knock out what used to take me four hours to lovingly craft when I started blogging (insert your own ‘Yeah, it shows’ crack here, if you want).

Yesterday, I weakened. It was a beautiful, windless day, so I went out on my bike for a couple of hours… but, usually, you’ll find me here working hard at my craft.

Days spent on your own must be rigorously scheduled if they are not to descend into meaninglessness and despair.”

I divide each hour into 45 minutes of writing and a 15 minute break – a schedule that I made my son stick to during his GCSE revision last year, though I didn’t see him doing any clothes washing or drying in his downtime.

I time every 45 minutes on my iPad, with another timed half an hour for lunch – and when I’m not writing, make myself practise Photoshop or watch videos on how I can improve my SEO, shit like that.

All of which means that my life is starting to resemble that of Will, the Hugh Grant character in the Nick Hornby book/film About A Boy.

Remember him? The guy who can stay at home all day because a relative once wrote a hit Christmas song. Will lives off the royalties, chases women all night – and that’s about it..

I don’t have the energy to chase anything, anymore – but what Will and I do have in common is knowing that days spent on your own must be rigorously scheduled if they are not to descend into meaninglessness and despair.

Will split his days into 30-minute activities, like doing a crossword on the toilet, bathing, or watching Countdown and (as Hornby writes) “was proud of his ability to stay afloat in the enormous ocean of time he had at his disposal…”

“(A) less resourceful man, he felt, might have gone under and drowned…”

Like Will, I feel proud that I haven’t gone under (or gone back to my old, unfulfilling job) and have found a meaningful way to get through the days.

I devote several hours a day to making this blog a success, because I am passionate about it and, overall, changing career has taught me valuable new skills, including time management and self-motivation.

Near the end of the book, Will’s love interest Rachel tells him: “you have to be fairly tough in your head to do what you do” and I think I’ve become tougher in my head, doing what I do, day after day…   

So who wants to give me a job first? 

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