Anyone who has worked away, or had loved ones work away for extended periods, knows that it comes with both a magnification of any existing issues and a set of different challenges from “normal” employment.
Folks have countless coping strategies; some excellent and some not so much…some intentional and some on pure subconscious reaction. I’m in no position to say which are best but what I do know is you can never have too many options.
So couple of months ago I was message tic-tac’ing with the lovely Kirsty O’Callaghan about a few things FIFO well-being. In this chat she asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her book – Separated by Work.
Now as well as being an author, Kirsty is an accomplished Public Speaker, Executive Consultant, Coach and FIFO Wife / Mum who has numerous awards and accolades to her name. So as you can imagine, I wasn’t sure if she was actually serious, so of course when she asked for a postal address I knew she was fair dinkum and I couldn’t wait to see what this book had in store for me.
So after a couple of cross country flights and a few late nights, here are my brief thoughts on Kirsty’s FIFO Paperback.
Long Story Short
Separated by Work is 276 pages dedicated to Kirsty’s take on all things FIFO. It is aimed at building, bolstering, or consolidating the FIFO stakeholder’s tool kit of coping / resilience strategies so we all can get the most from this chosen life style.
Kirsty covers a broad spectrum of topics and she has broken down the book into six parts. The Parts and their corresponding Chapters are titled so they are self-explanatory and a clear reference point for their contents. Each can be read as a stand-alone section/chapter to the rest of the book; so if one title draws your attention, to you can dive straight into that chapter.
Along the way there are plenty of personal anecdotes, shared stories from FIFO workers and suggestions from Kirsty’s own experience / research. During most of the chapters, you are engaged with questions and short activities with space to make notes
Subject matter experts (SMEs) in specialist fields are also utilised to succinctly provide expert opinion directed at the FIFO audience. These range from financial planning to relationships; healthy eating to raising special needs children.
What I really liked…
The Range of Topics
Kirsty covers literally the entire gamut of issues and challenges that FIFO workers and their families do or may encounter; to the point where this book would be a helpful tool for those who are just interested in tips on general life.
Separated by Work captures the usual FIFO suspects with Chapter titles like – About the Money, Relationship Success – 50 Shades of Away and Communication – Words that can Boost, Crush or Baffle.
But, it also ventures into some lesser known struggles of the FIFO existence such as – Managing Change for High Support Needs, Life After FIFO, The Unexpected – You Cannot Prepare For It and my favourite…Not Just About a Happy Ending.
The SME input
No one is as smart as the sum of all of us, something that Kirsty really taps into. She has not engaged any old SME but ones from her own close network. For me this adds so much more authenticity to the read and you can really feel that these professionals want to make a difference for Kirsty’s audience.
There is Louise the Home Economist and Professional Organiser; Delma the Portfolio Manager; Kim the Eating Psychologist and Health Coach; and Anna the Online Communication Specialist.
Personally, the most enjoyable was Carmel Murphy whose passion and dedication to special needs kids almost jumped off the page and slapped me!! Her advice on Social Stories is excellent and is something I plan to try with my 3.
What I loved!!
At first I thought these were a bit gimmicky so skimmed over them to concentrate on the reading. It wasn’t until I got all the way to Chapter 6 that I tried one…and was hooked!!
I went back and did all the previous activities and found them interesting, enjoyable…and intrigued as to what they managed to suck out of me. Even now reviewing my notes to write this review, I am loving the reflection on these and how much self-awareness they provided.
For me, this book is a reference tool and one that I will keep handy. The format which Kirsty has utilized is fantastic for this purpose. The titles of the parts and chapters mean there is no flicking through thinking “where did I read that again”.
The information is also segregated in such a way that limited cross referencing is needed and there is little preceding information needed to pick up and jump straight into any chapter. The parts flow well and are in a good order to keep the theme of the book rolling and consistent.
Add to this the words and line spacing are conducive to a casual read and the chapters are short enough to hold my attention…which is not that easy!!
The Openness and Frankness of the Discussion
this is the passionfruit icing between two vanilla crumbly cookies. It added that piece of bitter / sweet flavour that that makes Separated by Work the enjoyable treat that it is.
Kirsty really opened up and shared some very intimate information from her family and personal experiences. Believe me this takes courage, character and conviction but adds the perfect amount of extra credibility and integrity that just completes the work.
Separated by Work is not a gospel or bible for all things FIFO, nor does it pretend to be. But it is the best collation I’ve come across yet of facts, thoughts, experiences, tips and advice to cover all stakeholders in this lifestyle.
For those new to FIFO, or looking to take the plunge, this book is a fantastic tool to build some realistic expectations about what to expect and to start planning for what you are likely (and unlikely) to encounter.
For the experienced FIFO workers / families, it provides a great opportunity for personal reflection on the problems we face and possibly offer some new solutions to them. This was definitely the case for me as it bought a whole other perspective to common issues we in the FIFO thing all have faced and I’ve come away with some new angles of attack, no doubt.
One big piece of value I took from Separated by Work, and totally unexpectedly, was the tangibility and awareness of seemingly quite common challenges that many of my colleagues and team members face. Things that have not affected me and I never gave a second thought to, are covered by Kirsty and it really reminded me that “everyone has a story, especially in FIFO”.
So there you have it, my very brief and totally unqualified thoughts on Separated by Work. Of course, don’t take my word for it, go to the Unity Words website and check it out for yourself.
Until the next instalment; Keep Safe and #StayConnected!!!