It was the day after New Years 2012 and most businesses were still on holiday break.
I went into my consulting firm’s downtown office that day. The project I was consulting on had just gotten cut, so I was working on a side project to help my firm out as I waited to get staffed on my next project.
I had only been in the office for maybe an hour when one of the partners called me into his office. I thought he called me in to talk about the side project I was working on, but not even one minute after sitting in the chair in front of his desk, I found out why I was really there.
He told me I was being laid off–effective immediately. No warning, no time buffer, no nothing. My time with the firm was up after only 13 months of being with them.
I immediately burst into uncontrollable tears. The panic. The blind-sided punch to the gut. I couldn’t keep it in. Tears streamed down my face as he proceeded to run through their offer of only one month’s pay.
I was one of two to get laid off that day. I remember gathering my things, trying not to sob on my way out of the office as everyone stared at me on my way out. As soon as I got into my car, the flood gates opened and I started sobbing again.
What in the hell was I going to do? How was I going to pay my bills? How was I going to survive?
I had to find a job fast.
I had to find a job now.
I had to find a job five minutes ago.
I was beyond devastated.
The first thing I did was call my dog walker to tell her not to come that day because I had just gotten laid off. I was worried about the $15 it would cost me if I didn’t catch her before she walked my dog for the day. Because every penny now counted.
I drove home, changed out of the unflattering work clothes I hated so much, and got to work on saving myself.
I’ve always been a survivor, a woman who has taken care of herself, honored herself, and waited for no one and no thing to come rescue me. This time would be no different.
First, I re-did my budget, cut out every possible expense I could, and figured I had three months savings to get me by. I filed for unemployment, too. Thank God I qualified for it, even though it was a measly $550.00 a month (only a tenth of my salary at the firm).
I even got a part-time job at a day care where I earned a few hundred dollars a month to help pay my bills and to keep my mind occupied.
And every day, I searched the job sites, on the hunt for the next right thing for me.
The morning of the lay off was the only time I cried over the whole situation. I was actually relieved to have gotten laid off. Because, to be honest, I hated working at that firm. And I realized getting laid off was actually an opportunity. It was a shove from the universe to move on to the next job that would be more fulfilling, more in alignment with who I am and what I wanted out of my career.
At the firm, I felt so much pressure to be someone I wasn’t, to perform at a level I just wasn’t interested in. I didn’t feel like I could be myself there. I worked 50+ hours a week and did b*tch work. I wasn’t fulfilled in any way at that job.
I spent the next six weeks sleeping in, playing with a bunch of two and three year olds at the day care, cooking (since I didn’t want to eat out and spend extra money), relaxing, rejuvenating, and applying for jobs.
But because this was my opportunity to find a job that I actually wanted to be at, I listened to my heart when applying. If a job description felt like more b.s., I wouldn’t apply to it. I practiced listening to my heart, instead of the “right” or “logical” thing to do when it came to my career. “Right” and “logical” do serve their place in my career… but so does my heart.
After a month of a hellish job hunt, I had applied to quite a few jobs and had only two phone interviews. The panic started to run ramped again. I felt like I wasn’t make any progress. But each time it did, I reminded myself to step out on faith. This was my opportunity to have a job I liked. Things were going to work out for me. Because I said so.
Only six weeks of the unemployment game, a few measly unemployment and day care checks, relaxing lazy winter days, and countless bowls of cereal for dinner later, I started a new consulting job.
A former coworker and friend knew of a big project and she kindly put me in contact with the project’s program manager. They liked my resume, and because our mutual colleague vouched for me, that was enough for him to schedule two super easy phone interviews. Of course I aced the interviews. And the gig was mine.
But this time I was the boss. I had an LLC and was officially a business owner. And I was making double my old income at six figures. I went from not much to everything in six weeks.
To work on this project, I would have to consult as a contractor, not an employee. Being a contractor would require me to have an LLC, business insurance, to pay my own taxes, and they would pay me a whole lot more money than I had ever made.
I had no idea how to set up an LLC, or get business insurance, or how to file my own taxes. But within a matter of days, a few phone calls to friends who had LLCs, and lots of googling, everything was set up. And I officially owned my own business.
What’s so amazing is I had always wanted to own my own business. But I had no idea how I would even make that happen. I also had a goal to make six figures before the age of 30. And also had no idea how I would make that happen. But I did, by age 28.
I attribute my success to a magical combination of timing, circumstances, a whole lot of faith, knowing, and surrendering.
I’ve noticed that most of the world is out there thinking if they just work harder, if they just push themselves to do more, to be more, that they will reach their goals. I never understood that way of thinking.
While there’s something to be said for putting in the right work, why put in so much work that you burn yourself out? Why sacrifice parts of your life? Why make yourself miserable doing something you don’t want to do to get to somewhere you want to be? That kind of thinking just never appealed to me.
For me, it all came down to choosing something different for my life and my career when the opportunity came my way when I got unexpectedly laid off. I didn’t resist the reality. I rolled with it and chose to see the possibilities.
Not only did my dreams become my reality because I got laid off, what was equally, and maybe even more profound for me, was how I handled the situation. I never thought I, the typical type A perfectionist control freak, could be so cool, calm, and grounded in dealing with such a hard thing as a layoff. I surprised myself, big time.
After being laid off and coming through shinning so brightly on the other side, I knew I could do anything.
Written by Brittney Pappano for Xonecole