I admit, I am one of many people who have heard someone say “getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to me; if that hadn’t happened, I never would have done…” and immediately thought to myself, “bullshit”. Hence, the irony of what I am about to write.
At 8 am last Thursday I took an unexpected call from a strange number, and was informed by an outsourced HR professional (a woman I’ve never actually spoken to before) that my job was being “eliminated for cost-saving reasons”. I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for this surreal moment. The focal point of my life, work that I spent months pouring my time and energy into, was suddenly devalued to $0 a mere two weeks from completion, never to be seen by anyone. I was shocked.
With the clarity of a few days spent thinking, I find I harbor no real resentment, but am legitimately disappointed that this work will never see the light of day only because somebody wanted to save a buck. Even more so, I feel bad for the study participants who gave their time in good faith and are now unlikely to ever get the data they were promised. I hope I am proved wrong.
As you may have guessed from the first sentence, however, I have no desire to dwell on the down-side. What followed that initial adrenaline was the cool feeling of liberation. I feel as though I’ve been training for this moment for the last ten years, and it comes far more naturally than I had anticipated.
The next day, I walked into the same home office, opened up the same computer, logged onto the same email, flipped through the same list of contacts, and everything was exactly as it had been except for one thing–I get to choose what I want to do. The first thing I did that morning was to delete my to-do list, and replace it with a want-to-do list: projects I would like to work on and the people I would like to work on them with.
My work life is so modular, it’s a very simple matter for me to just unplug one project or employer and plug in another. This is both the beauty and the curse of the information economy. When you can no longer count on a single client or employer for stability, you get good at finding stability on your own. Sure, it’s a hassle, but like any form of resistance, it makes you stronger.
I find that my fear is not of a loss in income, but of a loss in trust. I never imagined my employer would make me renege on my promises, which is why I’m making this small offer on this small blog as an attempt to make things right: if you ever took one of my surveys and are still interested in my findings and opinions, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with some background info and whatever marketing challenges you’re struggling with, and I’ll do my best to give you any answers or advice I can, free of charge, for a limited time. Even if you didn’t participate in the research, you’re welcome to jump in on this too. Unfortunately I can’t share any of the great data I collected, but I can certainly allow what I’ve learned to inform my advice.
While a return to stability seems inevitable, I intend to enjoy this moment as long as it lasts. So many times over the last few years I’ve had to politely decline the opportunity to consult or try new things. Always, always, there was too much work to do. But now, finally, I’m open for business. Let’s talk.