“Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something? ” I concluded to a friend this week. I had been awake since 3 a.m. that morning. For what? All sorts of issues – there seemed innumerable topics to toggle through. Writing challenges. A looming deadline. Congressional-like politics at one of my jobs. A home renovation project whose end point keeps receding. A family going in all different directions – literally – while managing in temporary living quarters. Did I mention that I hadn’t gone in weeks for my beloved 5:15 am walk with a neighbor? Silliness. Right?
Let’s face it my problems pale in comparison to the very real health or well-being challenges that befall many families. For example in the last few weeks a family in our town had to honor the life of their son who’d passed away suddenly at seventeen after a single car accident took his life. Yes, my problems are small. Nonetheless I’ve still been gripping for ballast…..
At times I am borderline euphoric at my good fortune. I have created a portfolio career, one that allows me to parachute into and out of projects that are interesting and meaningful to me. At other times I am less convinced that this path is smart – let alone good for my family.
I took solace in a recent Focus Group conversation. Each woman in attendance had pivoted away from a long running career albeit for different reasons. All were treading water around the ‘positive’ vein of their decision…..
One participant summed up her situation beautifully: “It was a great run. But it was a tough run for over twenty years.” She had been in financial services. “Vacation was never vacation.” Or the more common, “I felt like I wasn’t home. Even when I was my head was someplace else.”
She was asked to help realign her business within the greater company. It meant her job was ultimately eliminated. “I mean the smart thing to do economically would be to do more of the same because that’s what I’m trained at. I’ve been successful at. It’s probably the best compensation level I could move into if I moved into a like position.”
She’s decided to move in a different direction. “I still don’t know what it is yet.” She has two children, daughters, roughly the same ages of mine. “It’s funny that I am not more upset than I am.”
Another woman who had also parachuted out of a more than twenty year run in technology offered a more sullen starting perspective, “I was desperate. Exhausted. A commute of more than eighty miles each way had taken its toll.”
She regrouped pretty quickly once her job was eliminated. “I had made the financial reward more important in that moment. I knew it wasn’t noble but I felt that I could pay the price for freedom later. It wasn’t the best decision but it was what I knew.”
As a single person she had devoted untold hours to her job. Once she left she spoke of re-engaging parts of herself that had been dormant for years.
Both of these ladies eagerly responded to my closing question that evening. In closing I always ask what ‘gift’ we’d give to a woman just starting out in transition. The technology lady said, “Everything she’s done and who she is will transition well to new communities. Immediately your mind connects you to places (where) you know how to contribute to…”
I very much appreciated the core strength in her message. It reminded me of an early blog post, “A transition’s journey.” I interviewed Maria, a Chicago MBA with a track record of success in IT and financial services start-ups. Her words? “We come back to ourselves, only better.”
I’m still not sure about the ‘back’ to ourselves vantage point. The direction seems all wrong to me. That said I am grateful for the words these ladies shared with me this week. Ever hopeful. Expansive. Sure.
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