Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When the best laid plans don't happen, don't drive angry.

For those of us who are planners and think ahead, plot scenarios, and plan for change and mostly take those changes in stride, what do you do when your plan blows up and you're left wondering what the hell just happened?

First, let's just accept that it sucks. It just does.
Second, breathe. To be completely cliche, this too shall pass. It will.
Third, move on. You just have to, but give yourself a bit of time.

In the last couple of years, I've been a marketing consulting and with that type of work comes risk and reward. I know there's a mindset that full-time work is safe and secure than contract work--I was definitely of that mindset--but having been in the position of unexpected job change and looking for work, NO job is safe and secure. It can happen to anyone.

I initially took a leap of faith on contract work nearly eight years ago and loved it. I met some great people and expanded my network by leaps and bounds. I returned to FTE work here and there, and then back to consulting. I discovered that contract work is interesting and fulfilling, provides flexibility and an opportunity to work with a variety of people and different projects.

Last spring, I found a year-long contract with a good team and familiar people and left one contract for another. While I struggled to find and understand the rhythm of the work involved and figure out some personalities, I was happy to be gainfully employed and working on new and interesting projects with the potential to continue with the team long term.

And then...BAM.

Reorg, changing roles and responsibilities, and I found myself in the position of having my best laid plans POOF gone. I'm looking for work again.

I keep telling myself this is the life I've chosen and it is, but oy, I hadn't planned on things changing THIS soon. It's bittersweet, actually. I'm disappointed that I won't be working with someone who I respect and like very much, but at the same time, I've come to the realization that the rhythm of work and personalities I've struggled with will no longer be a daily occurrence.

I've mentioned a few rules of thumb that I typically follow when sudden change happens:
  1. Acceptance
  2. Breathe
  3. Time
In every job change, I've followed all three of these rules EXCEPT this time. I've accepted it, but I've stuck on the "it sucks" part too long. I'm breathing, but I'm antsy and clock watching. And giving myself time to absorb the change...that should really be the first rule and I broke it BIG TIME.

One of the gifts of this change is that I had some time to look, but I didn't give myself those first few days to take it all in, breathe, and dust myself off and start in. I just started, but...I made the mistake of "driving angry". Remember the scene from Groundhog Day when Bill Murray's character tells Punxatawney Phil "don't drive angry" and the groundhog drove off the cliff and into the quarry? Yeah, I drove angry. Mind you, I didn't do anything appropriate or unprofessional, but by not giving myself time to let the details soak in, I've felt very unsettled.

I'm slowly but surely coming out of my funk and realizing that I have set these rules for myself for a reason. The good news is I do see the upside. I will be able to take off all of December, play some winter golf, enjoy the holidays, and continue looking at both contract and FTE opportunities and start fresh in 2013. Do overs are a good thing.

So, the next time your best laid plans take a sudden turn, what will you do?