14 Amazing Truths Learned From Those Who Left Or Lost Their Jobs
Two years ago
I saw fear; stealthily lurking around the corridors of our spunky office. Fear sitting next to us as we worked fervently on our lap tops. Fear staring at us in the group meetings and in meetings with our managers. We were afraid because we knew that after working for years in this company, we will have to move on.
The grapevine told us that a large number of people could be laid off. That instantly told us two things. One, we will have to think of other ways to pay our bills. Two, we may have to take up any job that came our way.
Despite thinking rationally for hours and discussing about it, we were anything but positive. There was a current of hopelessness and we were all submerged in it. After a few days, the official mails and announcements came. We realized that our worst nightmares were better than the reality.
My colleagues bid teary goodbyes. I felt like a part of me left with them, even though I was retained. I couldn’t talk when I came home to my family.Our team dwindled to one-third of its previous strength.
During this time, two other people left their jobs. One of them was working with me. The other one was working with a reputed organization and drawing a 6 figure salary. They both went on to do different things. My colleague set sail for another country and got into a bigger and better job. My friend on the other hand, chose a new profession that “satisfied her soul” but did not make her rich. She had to study in her new area of interest for 2 years, face recruitment interviews and prove her mettle once again.
In the aftermath of this restructuring, I reached out to some of my ex-colleagues through social networking sites, Instant Messengers, calls and text. I also spoke to my friend and colleague.
Here’s what they said and what I perceived.
1. It’s not the end
It may seem so in the beginning. But as you move ahead through the bleak and not-so-bleak -days, you realize it’s truly not the end. The schedule that you were so accustomed to gets broken for good. You build a new rhythm -- your own rhythm. No one tells you what to do, even though sometimes you wish they would. Slowly, you become wiser and observe everything in perspective. Then suddenly one day, something good happens. Or you find something good.
2. There’s a world outside my office
Yes, there is. The other world is beautiful, strange and teeming with life. Where was it hidden all these days, you ask? It must have hidden behind those emails, Excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations that occupied your vision. Traveling which was put to the back burner due to more pressing needs, then, all of a sudden becomes an exciting option. During your travels, you discover friends and passionate people who enrich you with their experiences. You learn that the only thing you should travel with is your backpack -- and travel often.
3. I’ve family and friends who love me
This is possibly the most surprising of all the truths. In our busy lives, we often forget about the person next to us. All far away possibilities appear so enticing that the the closest relations are taken for granted. We stop putting time and effort in strengthening our relationships. But once the enticing options turn into bitter disappointments, we look for solace. Thankfully for most of us, we find it in our partners and children. Our true friends despite knowing our situation, greet us with a smile and stay on late after dinner -- to hear us talk endlessly about our worries.
4. I can do better
Many leave their jobs because they feel unappreciated by their superiors or colleagues. Many leave due to discrimination. Many more leave because they don’t find satisfaction in doing their official duties. Leaving a job that erodes your morale is a good decision. Even though you may not reap the benefits immediately. Wait up and let hard work and determination weave its magic.
This book shows how to cope with the doubts, depression, and diminished self-esteem that often accompany job loss
5. I can get another job
You can and you will. You may not get the same pay and benefits or the friendly workplace that you got used to, but you’ll certainly find a job. It may take longer than your estimates -- if you don’t want to take the first job that comes your way. There will be days, when you will doubt your decision to leave your job, and hear whisperers calling it “foolishness". Don’t react, just stick to the job search and to your confidence. The rest will happen in due time.
6. Appraisals are good, but not all
Appraisals can't measure your true potential. It can only measure your work at office and indicate how good or bad you are in a particular role. Sometimes even that's debatable and almost all the appraisal systems which are performance evaluation tools created by humans -- have their own set of pluses and minuses. So deal with appraisals with a pinch of salt and a certain indifference. If you're rated well, good job! If you're not, move on. Remember, your work in office is not the only indicator of success or failure in life.
7. I found what I truly want
When we’re in a job, we are doctors, CEOs, financial analysts, etc. When we suddenly lose that identity – we find out who we truly are. Defining our identities through our titles doesn't do justice to our experiences and contributions. Our introductions deserve much better. And so does our lives.
8. Money doesn’t make me happy
It pays our bills, takes care of our family's needs, helps us save for the rainy days, gives us purchasing power, but, it doesn't guarantee happiness. Pursuing our hobbies and passions give us something to smile about. This is what one of my colleagues shared. "I caught myself humming while picking vegetables from my vegetable garden. I was not the senior executive in that prestigious firm anymore. I was running my own business -- which had its own set of challenges -- just like any other start up. But, I was happy."
Oscar Wilde quips:
"To do nothing is the most difficult thing in the world."
9. I can enjoy doing nothing
Working is a good thing. It gives us purpose, makes us confident and keeps us aware and active. But what happens when we are forced to stop? Breaking any rhythm that we're habituated to can make us depressed or frustrated. So isn't it good to divert your mind by working on something? Looks like there are some who do just the opposite. My colleague's surprising revelation: "And then one day, just like that I find out -- whiling my time away doing nothing can be healing and rejuvenating. No meditation. No exercise. No nothing. Just blankly staring out of the window - in a state of thoughtlessness and without motion."
Through a series of case studies this book wittily illuminates the changing place of leisure and revises the way we understand slackers and work itself
10. It's only a matter of time
Wisdom doesn't come in a day. We go through pain and pleasure to realize -- without pain, there would be no pleasure. With passing time, we understand that our fears and apprehensions were our first reactions to change. It's difficult to apply logic when your mind is shackled by fear. It's same as waving a red flag in front of a raging bull -- you can never expect it to calm down. So feel the fear and eventually let it go. Embrace the new wholeheartedly. And see where it takes you.
11. I’m braver than I thought
" I thought I would break down. I thought I was a failure. I even contemplated suicide for a while.On some days, I wanted to run away to some distant place, and start all over again. But I did not. I could not. I had to do something, anything. That gave me confidence to look for a career change. I studied something I vaguely knew long ago. Dusted my knowledge -- read up extensively and faced an interview for a new and never-before-tried position. I got the job and felt braver than ever."
12. I can become a better version of myself
While slogging for hours in an organization, we often forget to take care of ourselves. We overeat due to work-related stress. We forget to exercise. We don't consider our health as our top priority. Once we stop racing towards the finishing line, we start enjoying our journey. We start loving ourselves. That is when the best things happen. For my friend, it was losing 20 pounds and gaining her confidence back; for my colleague it was about rediscovering painting; for someone else it was about reconnecting with their inner self, and finding a better version of themselves.
An inspiring tale that confronts the not-so-secret fear that haunts every one who works for a living
13. My life will never be the same again
"I say that in a good sense. It can't be. Until then, I was the one leaving jobs. And then the table turned. I was not accustomed to job hunting and freelancing was only a option for losers. It took me sometime to change my job search strategy and even longer to change my perspective. Today, I'm a freelancing consultant and I don't feel like a loser. I have time for myself and I can manage to play a game of cricket with my son without picking my smartphone every 5 minutes to check my mails . I check it once in 3-5 hours. You see, everything has changed..."
14. I’m not angry or afraid anymore. I think I’m actually quite happy.
Happiness can come at the strangest of times, when you least expect it. It can land as an offer letter and sit silently in your inbox. It can take the form of a recruiter giving you that you-made-it smile. It can hide underneath the first cabbage that you pick gingerly from your garden. Or, it can dive and emerge from those deep blue waters during one of your travels. Later, when it vanishes and leaves you looking at that image in the mirror -- you silently bid adieu to fear, confusion and anger -- that you were holding inside you -- for so long.
I'd be lying if I told you that...
I was not effected after learning about these truths.
Hearing all this from people I knew, changed me. I took a decision which I was avoiding for long: I resigned. Because I wanted to be with my one year old daughter. I didn't want to miss a single milestone of her life. I knew I would have to give up on pursuing a career for a couple of years, but I took the plunge. I'm glad I did. Because after a year, I started to work from home. This gave me enough time and space to treasure the moments spent with my daughter.
However, on some days my mind plays a trick and I start questioning my decision. On those days, I tell myself:
Change is a reality and the only constant. It can rattle you, but don't let it break you.
Or, I watch...
47 year old Susan Boyle surprise cynics and critics with her awe-inspiring performance. It never fails to remind me of change and how it can't be stereotyped.
Is it possible to embrace change?
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© 2014 Chitrangada Mukherjee