Saturday, January 27, 2018

When Life Gives You Lemons

I have worked in my current career for the past 23 years. In those 23 years I have moved across the country because of it, worked for 3 different companies, survived mergers, buyouts, renaming, rebranding and pretty much every other hurdle that the business world has to offer.

Until now.

For the first time in my career I was let go due to downsizing and restructuring. Suddenly one Tuesday afternoon I found myself unemployed. I have been working since I was 14 (other than that unfortunate period in my early 20’s, but we don’t talk about the ‘90s anymore), so this is very unfamiliar territory.

Once I got over the initial shock, I was able to sit back and assess the situation. Taking stock things didn’t look so bad. I have great marketable skills. I’m very good at what I do. I have a wonderful family and we are all healthy and happy. We have a house, a car and some savings. We could manage this unexpected curve ball.

I took a week to let myself feel all the emotions and think all the thoughts. I looked at what jobs were currently available in the city. I started networking with friends, putting out feelers to everyone I could. And then I started exploring other ideas.

What if I changed careers?

At 47, with my family dependent on me, this was a pretty far-out there idea. But the idea started to grow. What else could I do? Did I want to keep doing what I’ve been doing for the next 20 some odd years? Could we even entertain the idea of starting over in something new?

Having a loving and supportive partner makes all the difference in the world. I would not have gotten through this past week without Hilary. She’s my rock, my sounding board, my shoulder to cry on, my support in all things. We talked through all the possibilities and ideas, coming back to some frequently, dismissing some immediately, shelving some for future consideration. We talked about every aspect that we could think off; financial risks, what the time away from family various ideas would mean, what our day to day life would look like, and any impact to Liam.

And together we have come up with a plan.

I am going back to school and embarking on a new career path.

The new career path is not so far off from what I’ve done in the past that I can’t take all of my skills and experience with me. 23 years of experience is not something you just toss away. But it is new and different. I will be doing things I’ve never done before, alongside things that are familiar to me.

The course I will be taking is 14 months long. I haven’t been in school since 1989. That was a very long time ago. It is a very scary prospect to walk into a classroom at this stage of my life, but it is the means to an end, and I will give it my all.

This was never something that I would have dreamt of doing on my own. But when life gives you lemons, make the best, sweetest lemonade that you can!