Turning Adversities Into Victories
There are two kinds of people when it comes to change for the worse: those who are ready for it and those who are not. I have always belonged to the latter group. To be exact, I am the kind of person who wants to block out the negative and focus on the positive. Being surrounded by positive things makes me feel invincible. Those positive feelings feedback to my self-confidence, leading to larger risk appetite. That is all right until the point when something breaks the cycle.
My cycle was broken this Summer when I lost my job out of the blue. That is the turning point of the story that I would like to share with you. But before we get there, I would like to go back to 2016 to the moment I graduated from university.
Working Nine To Five
At that time, I was already working for a multinational consulting firm and life was good. I was motivated to give 100% and show what I was made of. At first, the learning curve was steep, and I felt like I was making tremendous progress in developing myself. However, the curve flattened out fairly quickly, as is usually the case in entry-level positions.
Opportunities to learn are an extremely important aspect of a job for most people. We spend nearly half of our waking time working on five days a week. If the work does not have a sense of purpose besides filling up a bank account, it will be taxing on your energy levels. Seeking out opportunities to learn was the main reasons I left the steady corporate job in favour of a start-up. In my mind, it was not just any start-up, but a prominent artificial intelligence company. As a huge tech nerd, it was just too good to pass on.
For the first months in the new job, everything was well. I was given more responsibility and I was constantly learning. At that time, I was so excited I did not see the warning signs of what was to come. At this critical time of starting in a new position, I had to shift my focus away from work. During this time my fiancée was living in another country and that was taking its toll on our relationship. I vented my frustration at the gym and I definitely was not able to give my everything at work.
We were determined to close the distance and booked a trip to travel around Europe on our Summer holidays. Everything was looking good up until the day before I was leaving. That is when the bomb dropped, and I was told I will not have a job anymore when I come back. At that time my focus was already somewhere else, and I left on the trip with a fairly carefree mind.
The Fall And The Climb
When we got back home, the reality started to kick in. That was the first time something big like this hit me. I was definitely not prepared, and my perfectionist mind started to blame me for my inadequacy. If I had let it stay inside my own head, it would have become a vicious cycle. I never thought I would have any tendency towards depression or any thoughts that could even remotely be associated with it. On the other hand, I never had this kind of adversities thrown at me before. All I knew was I had to do something.
The first step towards getting over that initial shock was sharing the feelings with other people. It is a powerful action to take. The more people you share your thoughts with, the more support and new ideas you get coming in. The psychology works in other situations as well. An example would be when you start something new or set a goal. When you put your heart out there, it ups the pressure to succeed. I am still learning to do this more often, but I have already seen obvious benefits.
The next action, I would highly recommend is that you stick to your routines. During a major life change like unemployment, we lost one of the key elements of our daily life. Routines provide the structure we need in our days even if there is a major change. I will give you an example out of my life.
Every weekday morning, I still wake up at 6 am and hit the gym. I eat my usual breakfast of rye bread and smoothie. Even without a job, I set aside time to work every day. But instead of working for a company I work on myself and my own projects. I still go through my evening routine and fall asleep before 11 pm.
Start Of Something New
After a while, I started to see unemployment as an opportunity to start something completely new. My recommendation for someone in a similar situation would be to pursue two new goals. One of them should be something you have always wanted to do but have not had the time or energy to start. Let’s call this your pet project. The other pursuit should be something that takes your mind off everything else and is completely out of your comfort zone.
I am an analytical mind, and I have always been that way. This time has given me the opportunity to reconnect with my creative side. My pet project for the past few weeks has been a blog. I always wanted to start, but I could never come up with a topic I was passionate about. The initial thought I had was it should be something work related. After a thorough examination, I realised that is not what I wanted to do. Read my bio below to find out what I ended up starting.
Blogging is a completely new venture for me in many ways. I have no background in marketing or analytics, but I have had to learn the basics of both in order to build the site and following. An integral part of producing quality content is search engine optimisation, and I had no prior experience with that either. There are all these useful tools that I have learned to take advantage of. At some point, I will have to learn how to take better photos.
This brings me to another point I want to emphasise. To get the feeling of fulfilment, we need to constantly develop ourselves. Blogging allows me to do just that. The examples I highlighted are only the tip of the iceberg. It is extremely important to be active like this when faced with a change. I suggest you find a similar pet project that has a clear starting point but can constantly provide new challenges.
My getting out of the comfort zone project is dancing. I have not danced since high school, but now I go to Broadway jazz lessons with my fiancée every Wednesday. The first time we went there I was frightened. Now six weeks later I am only mildly anxious.
The hobby has a few benefits that carry out to other areas of life as well. First, it builds my confidence by making me do something I am not comfortable within a semi-public setting. Second, it sparks the neurones in my brain in a completely different way than anything else. Finally, it helps me get comfortable with failure. I constantly mess up in my steps, but it does not feel as bad as it used to in the beginning. Hopefully, you can find something that benefits you in some way as well.
Stay On Track After Disruption
Hard times are likely to find each of us at some point in our lives. The initial shock will be hard, but that will pass. I know I am not the only one when I say a failure can set us up for future success. We just have to find the best way to get there. In this post, I have given a couple of pointers that have worked out well for me. To summarise:
- Talk to people;
- Stick to your routines;
- Start a pet project;
- Get out of your comfort zone;
- Develop yourself (ideally through your pet project).
These actions made me feel better about my situation and can be helpful for you as well. If you have other advice or have faced a similar situation, please leave a comment! I would love to hear your stories. Until then I wish you all the best in your future endeavours!
Matti is a former management consultant and project manager.
He’s enthusiastic about new technologies and self-improvement. When he was unemployed he started a blog named Load Last Save, which is focused on the benefits of gaming, gamification and everything even remotely related to the topic.
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