Financial Independence, Freedom in 50s, Happiness

5 Things I Didn’t Expect after Being Fired

June 23, 2018

I was fired almost 2-1/2 months ago. At first, I was somewhat gleeful as I realized all those years of savings gave me a fair amount of financial freedom. Then I  began to feel discombobulated and just really “out of sorts.” Finally, I discovered the change cycle, which helped me understand that transformation is a process and gave me permission to take my time. I wrote about toxic work environments, which helped me put some closure to the old workplace.

Now I’ve slid into another phase, and I’ll call it “Joyful Creativity.” You see, I’m working my tail off building the Early Exit Academy. I am learning, researching, writing, organizing, designing, and brainstorming every day. It’s fun! My PASSION has returned big-time! And while it really hasn’t been that long since I lost my high-flying career, I can tell you there have been a number of surprises.

Surprise 1: I am sleeping better than ever!

Insomnia and I have been best friends and one of the chief reasons why I created the 30-Day Sleep Challenge. When I was working my crazy career, I traveled frequently and juggled a zillion different tasks. I’d wake up in the middle of the night worried about how to get everything done. Without extra staff, it wasn’t possible and I was swimming upstream with no relief in sight. Initially, the shock of being fired led to some sleepless nights filled with worries. Then I considered the worst-case scenario, which wasn’t too bad at all, and since then I’ve enjoyed deep, restful sleep.

Surprise 2: My newfound freedom freaks some people out!

One of the first questions we typically ask people we meet is, “what do you do for a living?” Hmmm. How do I answer that now? Initially, I said I was semi-retired, but now I claim “entrepreneur” as my title. Now here’s the thing. I built a national reputation on certain subject matters, and the idea that I’m not taking advantage of that expertise and hounding people for work freaks some people out! Well-intended friends and former colleagues send me job leads on occasion and seem uncomfortable when I tell them I’m moving in a different direction – at least for now. My finances give me opportunities, and what better time to see what’s out there? But yep, that freaks out people who wonder why I’m not trying to find a nice “secure” job in my field.

Surprise 3: Change is invigorating!

When I was younger, I thrived on change. As a young graduate student, I stowed my motorcycle into the back of a rental van and drove from New York to California – without a place to live and without a job. But life wasn’t always easy, so I was more than happy to spend 16+ years building a career in the same organization. Even though change is scary and there’s uncertainty in the future, I’m feeling young again. I’m earning back my “renegade” label and swimming upstream, and it feels authentic. Change is good!

Surprise 4: My identity is not tied to my career.

I am very proud of the work that I accomplished in my previous career. And I thought I would feel a bit more “lost” when that big chunk of my identity was stolen. But you know what? It was a career. It wasn’t ME! There was a lot of status that came with the career – hanging around important people, staying in nice resorts, being recognized by others in the field. Maybe it’s my farm girl roots, but none of that really matters. Essentially, I’m the same person. Being fired doesn’t change who I am or diminish my self-worth. Instead, I have the opportunity to carve out a new identity based on my values and choices. And I am so EXCITED about that!

Surprise 5: Life without a watch ain’t so bad!

I gave up wearing a watch. I simply don’t need to track my time anymore. I’ve never been a procrastinator so I don’t need a watch or a calendar to get things accomplished. While I could still benefit from a routine, I’m finding joy on working when I want, shopping for groceries while the world is hard at work, and indulging in occasional naps. I like my unscheduled time.

Now life’s not all bliss! I haven’t prioritized my health and fitness as much as I had hoped. But I’m slowly moving forward on that front. And I’d like to add more social and fun events into my life. I’m working on it! But so far, there have been some unexpected perks that come with this new way of life.

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  • Jen Kreft July 19, 2018 at 11:39 am

    You and Travis are living the same life right now! 🙂 Makes my heart happy that both of you are able to spend some time finding your own path that doesn’t include the corporate world.

    • Brenda
      Brenda July 19, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      Felt great to clean out my closet and get rid of most of my business clothes. Glad I built a big cushion to give me the time to explore and create my own path. Best of luck to Travis!

  • FinancesAreCool July 19, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Brenda, I enjoyed this post! I am living the corporate life, working on getting to FI. I secretly think that being laid off would be a blessig and a gift on this path, but I’m not ready yet to walk away on my own as I’m making good progress towards FI. Loved reading your thoughts on how things have changed over the past months and how you have “flipped the script” to take charge of your future. Best wishes!

    • Brenda
      Brenda July 19, 2018 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks! I had planned to work 5 more years. But now I’m so glad it all went down like it did. I suspect you will be just fine – probably better than fine – should your job disappear tomorrow. If you’ve been preparing for FI, you are way ahead of the game. Hang in there…and don’t be afraid to strike out on your own!

  • Jacq July 21, 2018 at 1:10 am

    Adapting to unscheduled time: Work recently started an alternate work schedule, I work 9 hour days and have every other Friday off. So far I’d used them to visit friends or family. Today was the first one for just me. Then I volunteered to do a thing. But when it was over, I was near the park and had sunscreen, so I went for a walk! I always say ‘if/ when I’m FI, I’ll have time to exercise more.’ This is like a taste of that, so I need to take myself up on that offer, and days off and weekends, work in more of the stuff I want to do when FI. Spending time with friends and family is some of that too, so the other bonus Fridays were definitely well spent. 🙂 I also added in a 20 min nap today just for good measure.

    • Brenda
      Brenda July 21, 2018 at 7:07 am

      Enjoy every moment of your Free day! And naps are highly underrated.