Saturday 5 May 2007

Window Closed

When my son was six months old, I returned to work (at the time this was the maximum time allowed in the UK; this has since been increased to 1 year). I would have preferred to stay at home and nuzzle with my little man, but I am 10 years older than my husband. And I am the primary wage earner. And my wee little man was weeing and pooing and spitting all over me and I needed a break. My brain, although full of love for my offspring, was turning to mush.

I returned to work as an international software consultant (without the flexibility to travel; I was still breastfeeding, you see). After 2 weeks they made me redundant. In the USA, this is call being laid off. In the USA, they probably would have fired me. They can do that a whole lot easier there than they can here.

I was devastated. I phoned my husband in a wild manic state of panic. I had a family, a mortgage, a baby and NO job. I was the primary wage earner. OK, so I hated the company I worked for previously and most of the management were completely incompetent (not Mick, if he is reading this!) and didn't really connect with any of the people who worked there (except for Helen - she's my best mate now!). I loved the work and most of our clients (excluding BA!) but I knew in my heart this wasn't the place for me.

But I had a child depending on me. I had a husband depending on me. And I had no job! I cried. I screamed. I cried. I cried. For about 2 days straight I cried. One well meaning family member, advised me that I could get a temporary position as a secretary maybe. I don't think they understand what I do for as a career.

This was a watershed moment for me. I had worked for this last company only about 4 1/2 years. I had worked at my previous job for 12 years and I had left them. On my terms. How dare they toss me aside so casually, after all I'd done for them? After all I'd sacrificed for them? Well, not any more, I vowed.

The man that is my husband today (we were together but not married then), stepped in and calmed me down when he felt I had done sufficient venting that he thought he might now avoid being physically abused if he gave me advice. This is one of the things he does best, knowing when to butt in. We calmly made a plan. This is what I do best.

We decided this was a good opportunity to explore several options. We looked at opening a franchise, starting our own business, moving abroad. This showed me all the possibilities. And then we started the research. We met with franchisers. We wrote business plans. I spoke to some head hunters. Marc looked into emigrating to Australia. I looked at running away to Fiji. We both looked at yachts.

We found a franchise that looked promising. And started the negotiation. And then the company I work for currently offered me a job. It was an offer I couldn't refuse that gave my family the security I desired. But the franchise deal was also a good opportunity. So we decided that my husband would do the franchise.

The franchise didn't work out. We didn't lose money but we didn't make much either. It never quite hit our revenue projections and we certainly never came close to buying a yacht. However, it did lead him to discover a gap in another market (Virtual IT Company for small businesses/home users) and he plunged into that business plan. It's working out. The business has its ups and downs, just my job does. My job gives us security and stability, which I need. His job gives us flexibility and a dream for the future, which the family and he needs.

When I lost my job I thought the world ended. Right now, I've got a few family members and friends who are facing this difficult journey. I know how dark that tunnel looks when you are entering it. I am on the other side. I've got the flashlight (torch) spotlight, beam.....whatever you need to help you get to the other side. Use LinkedIn. If you are not part of my professional network, you should be! I've got over 1,046 new connections since May 1. Ask for help! And there is a light.....the world is not ending....a door will open.....your shoulders can take the weight.....and all those other cliches that just don't seem to help much when you're in the throes of a crisis!

1 comment:

Janell said...

What a fascinating glimpse into the story of your life. Thank you for sharing it. I'm sure the friends & family who are right now struggling with similar issues will be encouraged and inspired.