On the runway, picking up speed

Have you ever felt a bit unsettled? Felt as though, while things are fine, you’re not quite doing what you should be?

I have been feeling this way for a little while now, but couldn’t quite put a finger on why. And then I read this quote, and it made sense:

I feel like what you’ve been doing for the last six years is that you’ve been increasingly picking up speed on your creative journey, but you’re still a little bit on the runway….All of it, you’re accelerating towards something, but now that gnawing feeling that you have and that feeling of being stuck right now is that you’re done with the runway… Now you are speeding down that runway, ready for liftoff to do the thing that you really want to be doing, and that you couldn’t have done without those six years of buildup. 


‘On the runway – ready for lift-off’.  Yes – that’s it!

When I first read this, in a 99u article, I thought – what a great analogy. It is so appropriate and so fitting for where I am now.

I then went straight to the source of the quote. It came from the first episode of a new series of podcasts by Elizabeth Gilbert. Well worth a listen.


The Present 

For a range of reasons, over the past three to four years I’ve pulled back from work. I was burnt out and needed some time to heal and reconsider where I was heading. It has been great.

I’ve been able to dabble in so many things. I have:

  • Re-ignited my passion for reading, joining a couple of book-clubs and reading a lot more on-line. I’m now reading voraciously again (a contrast to the previous six or so years, when I barely read at all).
  • Explored the idea of writing, through writing and blogging courses, joining writing groups, and, of course, started this blog. I’ve taken a more active role in social media – and I now have some understanding of the different platforms (plus have made some lovely friends as a result).
  • Set myself some physical goals – including the Melbourne Oxfam Trail-walker – but also some fun runs, swimming lessons (I’m definitely better than I was), and yoga (from time to time).
  • Been more active with my broader family – including helping Mum and Dad to sell their home and downsize, spending more time with my grandmother (who has also moved, finally, into low level care, so have helped with that aspect of life as well).
  • Holidayed and travelled with the family, most notably to Europe last year.
  • Participated much more in social activities, sporting activities with the kids, volunteered at school and church, gone along to a range of festival events and just doing things because they come up. And playing with the kids, being with the kids, listening to them. That has been important.

I’ve been really fortunate to have the opportunity to have the time for some great experiences, and that my husband and kids have created some space for me to do so.

Taking in information, learning, absorbing and connecting. Gathering. But now I am ready for a new stage – to consolidate, to pull the threads together, and to take off.


The Future

So – it’s time to move off the runway and get a bit of lift-off.

I’m still exploring what this means in a lot of areas of life – my destination is still a little hazy – but it is likely to mean a bit less exploration and a bit more focus. Spreading myself less thinly, and doing fewer things more thoroughly (although the holidays and family focus will remain a priority).

In terms of this blog, I realised recently that, as much as I get frustrated by areas of my work, I am still fascinating by the way cities work (and could work better), how people and places are so intertwined and how people could be given the opportunity to be more productively involved in evolving the places where they live.

I realised that I’m not ready to move away from planning. But do I actually need to?

  • Could I combine planning and communications?
  • Could I focus on improving understanding between different viewpoints – on issues that seem to cause the most angst, maybe?
  • Would giving voice to different perspectives be helpful to break down barriers. Could some common ground be found as a result?
  • Could I use this blog as a means of fleshing out this idea; working out how to articulate different issues in a way that is engaging but also informative; while also looking into ways of using this approach in a work setting?





I’m going to give it a go. It’s no high flying plan yet. When it takes more shape, I’ll be hovering only just above the runway for a while, still working out the next leg of the journey. But even this increased elevation will be a helpful stage in my journey.

I’m just hoping it won’t prove too turbulent.

Have you had to make a decision and take a risk – left the runway of life?

What would you say for those of us ready, a bit nervously, for lift-off?

Linking up (for the first time!), with Essentially Jess for I Blog On Tuesdays (#IBOT). 


5 thoughts on “On the runway, picking up speed

  1. Hello. It was lovely to read about your reading, writing and creating journey. You should take a look at Marcus Westbury’s renew Newcastle project. Plus he has just released a book! Maybe you could too? Dani B xx


    1. Well, Marcus Westbury is a hard act to follow (but thank you!) I’ve heard him speak and read his work over the past few years, but hadn’t caught up with the news about his book. I’ll look out for it. Currently scoping up approaches to this topic, and doing lots of reading – on urban issues, on non fiction writing, on different ways of engaging (lots to think through!) xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a very exciting time for you Helen, and I’m super impressed with your achievements in the last few years. I think your aim to keep your focus on family and holiday is smart, and one you’ll never regret. I know nothing about planning, but the idea of combining your skills and expertise enplaning with your passion for writing seems like a win all round. Having someone like you to unpack the issues that cause most angst might be exactly what is needed. Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress.


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