President's Column − I’m not done yet, but I can see the finish line from here.

By Rick Sepler

Careers in planning have many notable milestones – your first professional planning job, first public hearing, first adopted plan or code, etc. Each milestone reflects a hard-earned accomplishment and progressive increases in professional responsibility and scope. However, after time the “firsts” become less frequent even as the issues you become involved in may gain in complexity and importance. You might concurrently begin to see that your problem-solving process includes consideration of what has worked for you before in similar circumstances. You might also note that you are the one who now explains the nuance of our profession to colleagues who are just entering the field. Suddenly it seems, you have reached mid-career.

It might be the passion we bring to the issues we work on that keeps us fresh, but mid-career seems (at least to me) to have a significant duration. Issues arise, processes are started and finished, and we have on-going and emerging matters that fill our days (and the occasional nights too!) And then one day, you realize that colleagues who were your advisors and mentors when you entered the profession are now retiring…and you might start to think about how your “traditional” career might end and what adventures might await you given the time to explore personal interests.

I’m not quite ready to stop work and frankly, I still find working in our field engaging and meaningful. However, I have come to realize that the number of years until I seek new challenges outside of being an FTE is in the lower single digits. This realization has spurred some thought (between meetings) on what I’d still like to accomplish professionally before those other outside-of-work interests are given full reign.
Among those items I’ve placed in my professional bucket list, is an interest in seeing our Chapter continue to “go to the heat” and take on emerging issues – even when best practices haven’t yet been fully developed. For example, our recent Temporary Encampments Workshop was both relevant, useful and well attended. This summer, students from Western Washington University will be working to distill the results of the workshop’s exercise into guidelines which will lead to the development of best practices. Workshops like this one help us get ahead of issues and be more effective professionally. As a goal, I’d like to see the Chapter offer at least one emerging issue workshop each year. I’d welcome your thoughts on what emerging areas of practice would benefit from a focused workshop. Please contact me at [email protected]

Return to the May/June issue of the Washington Planner