FOIMan explains why he’s getting ready to take up a proper job once more.

A few months ago I applied for a job. A proper, full-time, permanent job. It looked like my perfect job, and I told myself that’s why I was going for it. I didn’t get it. But to my initial surprise I found that it wasn’t that job I wanted, but a job.

So I ended up applying for a few jobs that appealed and eventually, and perhaps surprisingly at the height of lockdown, I was offered one of them. Next month, for the first time in 6 and a half years, I’ll be fully employed again. And I’m surprised at how excited I am at the prospect, not least as given the circumstances, my first few months will involve me turning up to the same office I’ve inhabited for the last half-dozen years overlooking my own back garden.

It got me thinking as to how I’d found myself here. Why did I start applying for jobs? Or perhaps more saliently, why don’t I want to be self-employed anymore?

And it comes down to this. It stopped being fun. I think a lot of people think that the reason someone decides to work for themselves is because they imagine a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Not for me. I even made the assumption when I started out in 2014 that I’d be worse off. No, the reason I chose to work for myself – to try to make a living from the FOIMan brand I’d built up – was because I had the opportunity to do so and because I thought it would be fun.

And it was. I’ve got to do things I would never have done if I’d stayed in my last job. Gone to amazing and fascinating places I’d never had any other reason to visit, from Belfast to Brunei. I’ve met some thoroughly lovely people, and been flattered to be asked back by many of them. It’s been a huge privilege and I’ve loved, if not every minute, certainly a lot more of it than the times I didn’t enjoy.

But if I’m honest, I’ve been feeling less and less contented with this life for a while now. Even as I revamped my website before Christmas, it felt like resisting the inevitable. My heart wasn’t in it, and a business isn’t going to thrive once you’ve lost your enthusiasm for it, especially in the challenging economic environment we’re about to travel through. It’s time to move on and find the fun in something new.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported me, given me work and made the last few years such a pleasure for so much of the time. If you’ve hired me to deliver training or provide consultancy services, I hope I helped – I know I certainly learnt a lot along the way.

This website will still be here to promote The Freedom of Information Officer’s Handbook (40% discount still available until 31 July 2020 folks!) and the handful of training courses I’ll continue to present over the coming years. And you can still access the resources you find useful. There are two more articles I’ve written for The Freedom of Information Journal to come before I lay down my pen in that forum and I will make sure they’re brought to you here as soon as they’re published.

Otherwise I might be a bit quiet on the blogging and social media front but if I feel so moved, there will still be the odd post for whoever’s still out there in the future. You never know when FOIMan might return…