This is the story of how I was made redundant from my upper management corporate job in a small struggling business software company in 2015, and how that event marked a massive turning point in my life and taught me some valuable lessons.
You know the company is in trouble… you’ve been slogging your guts out to keep it afloat since the previous CEO suddenly resigned six months ago.
And after the old Finance Manager retired last year, his replacement has gone AWOL – he won’t answer his phone or e-mails, and your suppliers are kicking off because they haven’t been paid in months… not to mention the Tax man is knocking at the door.
A new CEO has just been appointed and can see the financial trouble the company is in. Debts are racking up and some of the money to pay the bills is stuck in a US bank account that only the previous CEO and Finance Manager has access to.
As part of the Senior Management Team, you’re not surprised when the new CEO announces to this elite group of senior managers that he has no choice but to cut costs – and that means cutting jobs. And so you are consulted to advise which positions you feel could be cut.
Naturally your job is safe because you are one of the most senior and influential people in the company. With your skills and experience, they couldn’t possibly do without you!
Just a friendly chat… right?
Fast forward to the day the company officially announces the redundancy program to the staff. Part of the legal process of making people redundant is for managers to meet with each member of staff 1-on-1 to notify them whether their job is at risk or safe.
And so it’s your turn and you’re called into your 1-to-1 meeting with the new CEO. You’re relaxed, and you start having a friendly chat with him. You’re sympathising with him about what a difficult day this must be for him – having to tell people that they no longer have a job. That must really suck, right?
And then a bombshell…
And then, half an hour into this meeting, the penny drops! This is not just a friendly chat. He is in fact telling you that there is no longer a place for you in the company. Yours is one of the few jobs are being cut. Your job no longer exists.
But because it’s the last thing you expected, you haven’t been hearing it!
Imagine for a moment what that felt like. How might you feel… shocked? embarrassed? ashamed? insulted? panicked?
Well, when this happened to me my reaction went something like this…
Wait a minute, back up there… what?! You’re telling me I no longer have a job? Huh?
Oh! Oh. Right.
Wait, really?? Me? You mean I’m unemployed?
Yes, really. Oh. Wow. Well, that’s new. This has never happened to me before. Right. Wow.
Are you sure? Yes. And there’s nothing I can do about it? No.
Oh. Well, I guess that’s that then. But what about this new big project I’m managing? And who’s going to deal with the Finances? And what about…?
Not my problem to worry about? No, I guess you’re right, it isn’t any more. Right. Well then.
All those emotions – and more – ran through me in that moment. I was completely blindsided – I wasn’t just upset about losing my job, but also about the fact I didn’t see it coming at all!
The shock subsided… and then the world opened up
And so, directly after this fateful meeting I went home. Back in my flat I walked around in a daze, not quite sure what to do with myself. Thoughts were flying around in my head such as, “Oh crikey. I’m unemployed! Now what? What does this mean? Why me! Did I do something wrong? I have a mortgage to pay! I’m going on holiday in two days’ time – can I afford it now?”
The phone rang and I jumped out of my dazed stupor. It was my direct line manager – also a good friend – ringing to see if I was OK. We agreed to meet up at a local pub.
A couple of hours and two beers later, and the news was sinking in. The shock slowly subsided, as did the anger, hurt and large dent in my pride which had quickly followed suit. They were replaced by somewhat unexpected feelings: of relief and joy and wonder and excitement!
It dawned on me that I would no longer have to deal with the difficult customers, the over-budget projects, the awkward conversations with suppliers saying I couldn’t tell them when we’d be able to pay them. It wasn’t my problem any more!
And so, with a massive weight lifted of my shoulders (possibly helped by the beers!), the world opened up in front of my eyes and I started to see a wealth of opportunities dancing in front of me.
Opportunity for a significant review
While I had been slaving away at work for months trying to keep things together at the company, my personal life had taken a back seat. I had put on weight and hadn’t been sleeping that well. The e-mail inbox on my iPhone was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last thing I saw at night.
Reflecting on the many nights when I would come home late from work, throw a frozen pizza in the oven and collapse on the sofa in front of the TV, I remember the countless times I would stop and think to myself “surely, there must be more to life than this?”
Many a wine-fuelled evening had been spent telling my best friend that I needed a drastic change in my life. I just didn’t know what that might look like.
And now… I started to realise that this redundancy would give me the chance to figure that out! This was the opportunity I had been looking for to overhaul my life.
I decided I owed it to myself to take an extended break, to step back and figure out what was really important to me in life. It was time to review my priorities, and find another way. Another way to live and to work which would give me a better work-life balance.
It was time to stop sacrificing my physical and mental well-being for… what? For money? For status? For bragging rights? Did I value any of those things? I realised that no, I didn’t.
I needed to find a profession which would bring me more joy, more fulfilment, and more control over my life – specifically to give more space for my personal life. I knew that I would not find what I was looking for in any job even remotely related to what I had been doing the last 13 years. And so I knew one thing for sure: I would never go back to a corporate IT job. Even though, at this stage, that was all I knew for certain!
I am fortunate to have saved a portion of my income all my life, so I had a healthy rainy day fund to support myself for a number of months while I figured this out. I knew the answers I was seeking lay inside me, I just needed to quiet the outside world so I could spend some time looking inward. And that is exactly what I did.
What did I learn from this?
I had been arrogant enough to think I was irreplaceable. But no-one is indispensable in business.
On reflection, I realise that I had given my all – four years of hard work and dedicated service, of long hours, late nights and full commitment – because I thought that would buy me security. I believed that loyalty would be repaid with loyalty.
Job security means financial security, right? And financial security means: a roof over my head, food on the table and all my basic needs met. (And a nice car. And a motorbike. And nice holidays. And a pension. And all the other trimmings.)
But I learned first-hand that security is not a given in employment.
I learned that loyalty, experience, skills and respect are all well and good, but while the people you work directly with (colleagues, customers, suppliers) may value these qualities, when it comes down to the pounds, shillings and pence it’s not about you. It’s not personal, it’s business. You’re a bum on a seat, paid to do a job. And business is all about the bottom line, isn’t it?
I also started to question some of the ‘givens’ that had formed the basis of my beliefs surrounding work and which defined my work ethic. For example, does it have to be the case that you must be working in order to earn money? Is it fair that, no matter how hard you work, your potential earnings are capped?
As someone who had been programmed from an early age that you must ‘work hard in order to succeed in life’, I felt pressure to continually strive to impress. I wasn’t able to accept anything that I felt was less than my best – but who benefited from that? The company. And who suffered from it? I did.
There is another way
And so, now having some time to do some in-depth research, I discovered plenty of cases where my ‘givens’ did not hold true.
I learned that there is a plethora of worlds out there where you don’t have to be a slave to the Monday-Friday 9-5 grind. Where commuting doesn’t have to feature at all in your life. Where there is no limit to how much you can earn. Where you don’t have to trade your time for money – which means you can earn money while you sleep! Fancy that, eh?
There is very little that is certain in our world. And realising that security couldn’t be guaranteed in employment, it became clear to me that the only way to attain any kind of security is to invest in yourself. So that, no matter what life throws at you – or takes away from you – you are in control of your own destiny.
When you are able to re-define and re-shape yourself to the ever-changing world, you are no longer reliant on a company to give you employment – on their terms – in order to keep a roof over your head and food on the table. Which means you no longer have to be a slave to the corporate machine.
Now I’m Living a Life I Love
And that, ladies and gentleman, is why I joined the Six Figure Mentors. Through their online education platform I am gaining the necessary skills to build my own online affiliate marketing business. A business which I can run from anywhere, provided I have an internet connection. Where the earning potential is unlimited and which I work on when I choose – thus my work-life balance is now within my control.
And the best thing is, I now benefit directly from my own hard work – the more energy I put in, the bigger the rewards – and this time they will fall straight into my pocket and not someone else’s!
Knowing myself, I know full well that if I hadn’t been made redundant I would have carried on job-hopping in the corporate world, and would still be collapsing on the sofa at night with my oven-pizza and zoning out with the TV.
Whereas now, I take great pleasure in having time to meditate first thing in the morning, to prepare healthy meals, to take walks in the middle of the day if the weather is nice and to do my grocery shopping when most of the world is at work or at school. I meet like-minded people all over the world – without having to leave the house. And I am investing in myself, while also building a business around my passions, using my skills – which is in line with my values.
In my opinion, life doesn’t get much better than this!
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