I’m writing this post on Thursday the 1st. It’s an interesting day for me. It started off like any other Thursday. The alarm went off around 5am (woof), I hopped in the shower and got ready for work. Kristin and I got our lunches ready and got in the car. I dropped her off at the gym just like I do every Thursday.
But when I got in to work, I had a realization. It was the first of the month. A brand new month, sure, but something more mind-bogging than 2018 being about 10% over was that I’d been laid off exactly one year ago.
Today marks the exact one year anniversary of being told my position was being eliminated.
Reflecting On The Day
I still remember that Wednesday vividly. Like any other Wednesday I got into the office early – I’m a bit of an early riser – and eased into my work like I normally did.
When my boss called me into an office – which later got dubbed the Firing Chamber – and HR followed, I knew where the conversation was going.
But I had no idea where my life would go.
Suddenly, everything seemed out of reach. I worried about our future. We had a wedding we were trying to pay for, a house we were trying to save for. I had asked Kristin to move up to Minnesota with me for a job – a job that I no longer had. Would she want to stay in Minnesota, or were we going to move?
Even though I remember the day vividly, what stands out the most is how much of a blur it all actually was. It rocked my world and threw my life into disarray.
2017 Would Rock?
What’s crazy to me is that if you’d have told me on February 1st 2017 at 8:45am – ab out two minutes after I got laid off – that I’d be starting the best year of my life so far, I’d have thought you were crazy.
But you’d have been right.
I could have given up hope when I got laid off. Started drinking, stopped looking for work, gotten lazy. Kristin was working, and while it’d mean we’d have some lean months in our over-priced apartment, we’d have been able to survive off her income.
Of course, our plans for the house and the wedding would obviously be ruined. But we were living below our means and could have gotten by with one income for a while. We wouldn’t go hungry.
I didn’t do that. I didn’t want to be passive.
More than anything I wanted to end up on my feet. If not for feeling like a contributor to our marriage, then at least as a bit of a show to my former boss that he’d made a mistake.
I got to work almost immediately. After filing for unemployment, I started reaching out to all of my contacts.
Things…didn’t go as I thought they would.
Reflecting on it now, up until that point in my life, I was pretty egotistical in my career. Outside of that, certainly not, but humility was definitely not my strong-suit.
Before 2017, I’d never applied for a job where I didn’t get a call back at least. Every interview I had up until then resulted in an offer. The job I’d just gotten laid off from sought me out.
I felt on top of the world, and even after being laid off I thought I’d have no problems find another job immediately. I was a little worried, sure, but honestly it was mostly about securing financing. A job wasn’t worrying me – I could get work anywhere, clearly. People should be begging me to work for them, right?
But actually, things didn’t go well. Hiring got tight at my former job and the only positions available required a technical background I didn’t have. I applied at several places and never heard back.
I went on several interviews with no follow-up. One decided to move forward with internal candidates instead, and another hired a different external candidate.
This didn’t make sense to me.
Then it clicked. I had a moment of realization – a moment of humility.
I wasn’t infallible in my career. If I wanted to land on my feet, I needed to be realistic about what I brought to the table. Confident, yes, but I was interviewing for industries I had no experience in.
My seven years of background in my former industry meant nothing to the places I was interviewing…unless I could swing it right. And I could.
Things Start Looking Up
Nearly a month later, a recruiter I was working with reached out with very short notice for an interview. The position had been filled, but the potential new hire backed out last minute.
That was good news for me – it sounded like it’d be a quick turn-around. We needed the cash if we wanted to do everything we’d planned for 2017.
The location wasn’t ideal with one car, but we could make it work. I’d heard great things about the company culture and it sounded like they wanted to fill this role quickly.
I accepted the interview and prepped for it by researching all I could about the company, writing down questions I had, and making sure my resume highlighted the skills they were interested in. This is an often overlooked step in the interviewing process. Most people have a single resume they send out.
That is an okay strategy if you’ve got an amazing resume, but it’s not going to stand out. I catered my resume exactly to the position I’m interviewing for.
In this case, it was a role that focused heavily on data management and process improvement. I was hopeful, because that’s exactly where my strong points were, and I had years of experience to talk about.
I went into the interview wearing my Hat of Humility. Here they had their perfect candidate already selected, but they backed out.
I knew they had options, and in fact I knew they had another interview that same day for the same role – someone with as many years’ experience in this line of work as I’d had walked the earth.
I played the interview cool. My confidence showed through, but I was very conscious of not coming across as arrogant. The interviewers asked me straight-up if I felt that not having experience in the industry would hinder me.
With confidence, I said “No. When I graduated college, I had no idea what the word ‘logistics’ (my former industry) meant. I did everything I could at the start of that job to learn about it. I dug in to all of our internal IT systems, learned the ins and outs, and soaked up all the knowledge. Over time I became very knowledgeable and started coaching and mentoring new hires. I feel confident that I could do something similar here.”
When I left the interview I felt good, but knowing they had other options, all I could do was wait.
And it turns out, I didn’t have to wait long. I wasn’t even in my car for 10 minutes when I got a call from the recruiter stating I’d been offered the job.
Of course I accepted – besides needing to get back to work, I felt really good about the company. It seemed like a great culture (it is) the work seemed challenging (it is), and I was ready to help others (I have).
Finally, things were looking up.
That job kickstarted what became an amazing 2017. I decided I didn’t like that feeling of discomfort – of not knowing when I’d be getting paid again. If I could help others be more prepared for that situation than I was, I would.
That’s when I started this blog. It’s when I started meeting all the crazy, unique, awesome people that also blog about the same thing – because we have a message to share. There can never be enough people talking positively about how to manage money.
Everyone’s story is different. Mine will resonate with some readers. It won’t resonate with all – particularly due to some of our lifestyle choices. But I knew that someone would find value in what I write, and if nothing else, at least I do.
We ended up having a killer wedding, too. Spending a weekend with your close friends and family (and new family) is awesome. Everyone had a good time, and the day was just perfect.
Our mini-moon was awesome. It was nice to relax for a bit after a stressful start of the year.
We found a bar with our last name – named after some distant relative, I’m sure. All of us are related.
Unfortunately no big inheritance from when he died, haha. But it was at least hilarious when I paid with my card just so they could see my last name.
Our house was coming together quickly, and we had the chance to scope it out a bit while it was still just the bones. It may or may not have been trespassing, technically, but don’t worry about that. Those are good memories.
When we closed in early October, we went to our house. It was cold – the thermostat was set at 55. Kristin and I sat by the fireplace and talked. We had work to do, things to move, but we wanted to spend some time together as new home owners in our chilly house.
As an aside, I have no idea how Tanja and Mark from Our Next Life do this on a daily basis.
The power went out while we were sitting there – not even home owners for two hours. It was hilarious and a memory I’ll have forever.
We had a lot of fun shopping trips to furnish our house as best we could to have family over. A few days before Christmas, Kristin’s side of the family arrived, and my parents drove up also.
It was an awesome time full of games that had my dad literally in tears laughing, a memory I’ll cherish for a long time. Our house was the perfect space to host our families. I’m so happy they get along so well. It made the end of 2017 absolutely perfect.
And it all started out just so, so shitty. I was scared, I had moments of fear and doubt. After things didn’t start to pan out with finding a new job, all of this seemed out of reach, like it wouldn’t happen. I could have easily let that feeling consume me, to take over and shut me down.
But I had different plans.
Life is best experienced as an active participant. I’d spent years being relatively passive in everything I did. I didn’t let life pass me by, per se, but I didn’t take much control, either. Moving forward in your career when you’re passive can be perilous.
When I lost my job, I had two options. I could continue to be molded by what was happening around me. It was the easy thing to do, to just let other people and things decide what would happen. After all, it worked out in the past, for the most part.
Or, I could take control of the situation. I could build the life I wanted, experience the things I wanted, and be who I wanted.
When you’re down, keep pushing through. The other side is way better when you do.
What hurdles have you overcome? How did things turn out?