Friday, March 27, 2009

The professional break-up

As someone who worked within one job function for the better part of my career, getting laid off brought on change that was unexpected and not overwhelming comfortable. I've found in the last two weeks, being laid off bears many parallels to the throes of a personal relationship break-up. One where my job has essentially up and left me to deal with picking up the pieces (duly noted that this is a strange economic time, but the parallels are still similar).

Similar to the first few days of a break-up, denial followed by a sense of euphoria were the key emotions. I was in shock. Suddenly, it was over. Regardless of how happy or unhappy I was about the five hour commute or the inner workings of corporate politics, life as I knew it was over. I lamented about what I could have done differently (I don't think it would have mattered in the slightest). I questioned my part of the "break-up". I had difficulty fathoming what I would do next without my job, my security and, parallel to a relationship, professional identity. All of it was beyond my control, as with someone being left in a relationship, and everything scared me desperately.

After this brief period (again, these are strange economic times), I began the euphoric process of change. Suddenly, I was not tied to the commute. My blackberry stopped incessantly beeping with e-mails. My calendar went from overloaded with meetings to completely clear. I realized that I could do whatever I wanted, my independence was back and I was free of stress. I felt very similar to the days after my marriage broke up. I spent two days walking around my property thinking about my next steps. I smelled the air. I felt the wind. I was free of my own expectations and responsibility of another. Anything was now possible.

And then, like any break-up, reality and grief began to set in. Panic, due to the financial constraints I now faced. Euphoria was great, but brief. What the hell was I going to do now? I spent two days on the couch depressed and anxious.

Fast forward a few days, as it is now coming up to three weeks. I'm in a new routine. I'm not thrilled to not be working, but opportunities that were unexpected have been presenting themselves to me. Sort of like the dating after a marriage, not familiar but refreshing.

I'm adjusting to no blackberry. I've taken up pilates again. The book WILL be finished by the end of the summer. The boxes with all my belongings came, I cried for a few hours and then wrote my own personal "dear work" letter. And let it go.

It's about reinvention. Staying in the moment and knowing that things will improve at some point. In the meantime, I no longer have to worry about the metro north increase or what my client may or may not say. I'm re-energized for life, sans the paycheck.

So, good-bye to my job, it was special and I learned a great deal. But, it's over and the time has come to move on.


Angela said...

Yes, it is like a relationship break-up, isn't it? Of course, I've had over a year to get over being laid off from the "good" job. So I consider myself a little ahead of the game. :) Hang in there. Like your blog and will definitely check out the book!

Anonymous said...

Change is such a powerful process....truly being present with all of the emotions it creates is intense. Good for you for embracing it...and getting off the couch :)

phozer said...

I love your take on this. Though change is bound to happen and is a healthy alternative to no change, it can be diffucult. I think the most diffucult part of the process is the fear and anxiety. It always seems worse than it actually is. If one looks at it as an adventure or a chance to explore new directions, than it can be a wonderful experience. I, too, am faced with significant change on the workfront, though I am in the non-profit sector. I am encouraged by your positive attitude and I now have the courage to carry on. Thank you