Recently, a friend of mine lost her job. In the process of consoling her, I was transported back to the time when I lost my job. I was quite devastated the first time I heard my job had been eliminated and I was laid off. But if I was truly honest with myself, I was devastated because I felt I was losing my identity versus losing a source of income. I knew that if things got really bad financially, I always had the option of getting any odd job. After all, my first job ever was actually a cleaning job, so I have no problem doing any type of legal job. Fortunately, I have such a supportive husband who gave me the opportunity to take the time to discover myself without a job. I have to say though, losing my job really rocked my world, but saved my life all at the same time. How losing my job saved my life was in the three valuable lessons I learned along the way:
- I am not my job: A couple of days after losing my job, I attended a networking event with some of my friends. While I was mingling in the crowd, a lady approached me to start up a conversation. The first thing she asked me was ” What do you do?”. I was completely speechless. I absolutely didn’t know what to say. Do I just say “I am jobless” or start explaining to her how I am really somebody even though I just got laid off? Before I could think of an appropriate response to her question, I blurted out ” I am on a sabbatical ” lol. She looked at me quite puzzled and she didn’t say a word. All she did was walk off. Yes, she walked off. OMG, I was shocked. Was I that boring without a job that no one wanted to continue a conversation with me? Suddenly I had an AHA MOMENT. My whole working life, I had always identified myself with my job. I had worked so hard to establish a career and my job had become my main identity. And without a job, I felt completely lost. And in that moment, I realized that I was so much more. I AM NOT MY JOB. Rather, I am a brilliant, amazing, unbelievably loving, multifaceted being, irrespective of a job. I have all these other sides to me and my job shouldn’t be the factor that defines me. Discovering this truth was such a breath of fresh air. It really helped me stop being scared of not having a job. Why? Because a job doesn’t make me who I am. I am more than my job.
- Clarify my priorities: I have worked and hustled to succeed all my life. But when I lost my job, I really didn’t want to recruit or look for another job. I just wanted time to breathe and find myself. I was tired of the hustle and flow, and the quiet time forced me to pin point and focus on my priorities in life. In the past, I had sacrificed everything for my job and career. But losing my job was the light I needed to see my life with fresh eyes. For the first time ever, I got to attend events at my daughter’s school. For the first time ever, I was home in time for dinner with my loved ones. For the first time ever, I could go for my doctor’s appointments. Losing my job helped me prioritize my life, family/loved ones, health, hobbies and my other non-negotiables. As a result, I have made it a point to always remind myself of my priorities, and set boundaries with others on those priorities.
- Less Fear, More Happy: Before losing my job, I was always sacred of losing my job. I use to think that one of the worst things that could happen to me was that I lose my job. Well the worst happened, I lost my job. But after I lost it, I realized nothing had changed with who I was as a person, The experience even made me more motivated to never compromise on my happiness for the sake of a job or any thing else. Life is just too short not to do what makes you happy. In the past, I had wasted so much time on things that didn’t bring me joy because I was scared of what others or society would think. But I realized everybody including corporations do what works best for them, so why shouldn’t I do the same? As a result, I decided to focus and engage in only things that make me happy, even if it scares me. For instance, I have always wanted to sew, but I was so scared to learn because I feared I’d be no good. But as I began to embody my “less fear, more happy” mantra, I took the plunge and taught myself how to sew. Sewing has literally changed my life. Words can’t describe how much joy sewing brings to me. It has made me believe in myself so much more. If I can sew, then there is absolutely nothing I can’t do.
I know its hard to see things happen for a reason when you are going through hard times. But as one of my friends told me when I lost my job “Your toughest challenges come when you are en route to your greatest triumphs. Keep moving ahead, so you can see the new doors that will open for you”.
Enjoy life joyously & deliciously,