Back It Up, Flip It and Reverse It

“If you knew how this story ended, what would you have done differently during the beginning and middle?” My therapist asked me this question during one of our sessions. For that reason, I want to tell this story in reverse.

The End

“Broooooooooo, God showed up and showed out! I wouldn’t have even thought to put this together in a million years. See what happens when you’re patient?” My BFF had to sternly remind me of a couple of things: First, I hadn’t been patient AT ALL, and second, hadn’t she TOLD me that it would work out for the best? That’s neither here nor there though. I like to credit myself for being able to predict (read: control) the outcomes of situations. However, this time, I almost sabotaged the testimony during the test. A couple weeks into a 3-month contract role, I was hired full time to work at the corporate office for a fashion retail company. I was so excited! The opportunity to combine my expertise (training) and hobby (fashion) and get paid for it was unreal! I’d always worked in financial services and never even thought to look for corporate training roles in fashion. After being unemployed for 4 months, I could finally sigh a breath of relief.

The Middle

Before I had a chance to enjoy the last plate of leftover turkey, I was unexpectedly laid off from my first executive role the Monday following Thanksgiving. After I recovered from initial shock, I jumped into action and started searching for jobs. My resume seemed to get lost in a black hole. I even considered changing fields and interviewed for roles in community relations and non-profit. Let’s just say that I’m still waiting for a call back. Had I known that after 3 months, I’d land a new role that I was excited about, here’s what I would have been spending my time doing, instead of hosting daily pity parties with my friends, family and anyone who would listen as the guests of honor:

  1. Spending quality time with my family and friends. The time that I did spend with my family and friends was spent crying and worrying. It isn’t often that you have 3 months to sit around during the day and watch ‘the stories’ with your grandma, take your toddler to read-a-longs in the morning when other parents are at work or go visit your brother out of state for a week.

  2. Job shadowing my friends. Most of my friends have flexible jobs in fields outside of my own. I had the opportunity to learn more about project management, operations, and about ten other skills/industries. I wouldn’t have expected to become an expert but could have expanded my knowledge and applied it to my new role.

  3. Traveling to expand my network. I always find conferences, workshops and learning events across the country as I’m scrolling social media. During the time I was laid off, I should have attended some of those events to not only sharpen my skills but to have been exposed to people and opportunities outside of the

  4. local market.

The Beginning

Needless to say, my role as a Learning & Development VP charged with the task of developing and implementing the learning program at a company required long hours. I kept my head down and worked tirelessly with an end goal in mind. While I don’t regret my effort to do well in that role, here’s the one thing that I would have done differently:

Remained closely connected with my network! I cancelled lunch meetings, skipped out on networking events and stepped down from leadership positions in community organizations. I was busy and didn’t want to burn out. Although I wasn’t able to engage with my network in the same way that I had before, I could have used tools such as LinkedIn to remain connected. LinkedIn provides updates on your network so I could have sent a congratulatory note for a promotion or new job, shared relevant articles and connected individuals. For me, it felt awkward to reach out to my network while unemployed because I hadn’t been in contact. I’ve never wanted to be the person to only reach out when I needed something but to be a person that builds and maintains genuine relationships.

“If you knew how this story ended, what would you have done differently during the beginning and middle?”

I would have spent less time worrying and more time preparing for what’s to come! What are YOU doing during your beginning and middle?