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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Dr. Brenda is a sociologist, educator, blogger, motivator, and financial coach. In addition to blogging at The Five Journeys, she writes 30-day challenges at BetterLifeChallenges.com. Her passion is guiding people on their journey to financial freedom through coaching at DrBrendaMoneyCoach and online courses at EarlyExitAcademy.com.