September 3, 2015

How I Got Fired & Hired at a New Job the Same Day.


Earlier this summer, I was let go from a job I loved.

It happened because of funding issues (nothing to do with me or my abilities).

Now, I’ve been through a lot in my life. I’ve been so poor I’ve subsisted on pasta and peanut butter. I’ve been blindsided by unexpected family problems. I’ve been kicked out of my apartment.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about life and change, it’s that while it’s perfectly acceptable—appropriate, actually—to mourn loss and change, there’s also one effective way to distract oneself from descending into a spiral of uncertainty and despair:

Focus on what you want.

I’m not talking about an idle, meandering, daydream kind of thing (though that’s sometimes where it starts). I’m talking about focused intention. I’m talking about consciously shifting your thoughts from fear and worry to a more gentle state of allowing. I’m talking about inviting intuition to land on your shoulder, like a butterfly, guiding you to what you desire. Not what you should want, or what’s convenient, or what will get you the corner office, but what you actually want.

At the time I was told about the loss of my job, I was on the phone with my boss, walking down a sunny, tree-lined street. After hanging up, I sat down on a stoop and began to digest this information. I knew I had a choice: I could start freaking about money and career and The Future, or I could allow myself to “indulge” in considering what I really wanted. So I tilted my face up toward the sun, and smiled.

After a few minutes, I realized something: I really, really liked the sun. I liked being outside. I liked feeling the breeze on my skin, and moving around in the middle of the day.

That’s when it hit me: I really didn’t want another high-powered communications job in that moment. I didn’t want the stress and responsibility. I didn’t want to be cooped-up in an air-conditioned office for the rest of the summer. The idea of shivering at my desk in a cardigan despite it being 90 degrees out made me sad. Which meant meant something else made me happy.

What did I really want, if I was honest with myself?

A fun summer job.

That’s right: It was hot out, and I wanted to enjoy it. I wanted something fun.

The more I leaned into that possibility, the clearer the vision became. I’d worked in education before and loved kids, so I thought maybe I could work at a day camp in the city. Maybe there was a soccer program at a nearby school that needed more assistants. Who knew? I could figure out my “real” future later. For the moment, I wanted something where I didn’t take myself or life too seriously.

I skipped along home, my head full of possibilities, and here’s what happened: I ran right into one of my housemates, with whom I shared that I’d been let go (she was sympathetic), and that what I really wanted was a fun summer job. My eyes sparkled as I described what I was looking for: something lively, working with kids alongside a team of other young adults. Suddenly she snapped her fingers.

“Wait,” she said, “I think I know a guy.”

“Yeah?” I asked, half-joking. “Does he hire people for fun summer jobs?”

“Actually,” she said, “that’s exactly what he does. I’m sure they’ve already done the bulk of their hiring, but do you want me to ping him anyway?”

She only had a few minutes before she was heading out the door for the rest of her workday, but I gave her such an enthusiastic yes! that she emailed him right then. Three minutes later, I heard her shout from her room:

“He just emailed me back! Can you start Saturday?” (It was a Thursday.)

“I mean … yeah!” I shouted back.

“OK!” she said. “He wants to hire you. He’ll call you shortly.”

He did, and I did start Saturday. And I worked that summer job. Like a boss.

When a big change happens—especially an unexpected one, like losing a job—it’s easy to get distracted by the “badness.” It’s easy to imagine all the negative repercussions, get angry and upset or ask, “Why me?”

It takes mental discipline to instead sit down and say, “What would be even better than what I had? What do I want?”

But it’s important. Not just because you end up feeling better, but because once you’ve got a sense of it, you can articulate it to other people.

In fact, you usually can’t wait to tell other people, because you’re psyched about it. And there’s an energy a person has when they’re genuinely excited about something that’s, well, irresistible. It makes you want to help them, want to help them get what they want. When they grin, you grin; when their eyes light up, so do yours (hello, mirror neurons).

So do it. Because reflecting on what you want, many times, gets you exactly that.



8 Steps That Help You Find Your Life Purpose.


Author: Melanie Curtin

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Author’s Own


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