Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I'm on vacation, does "mandatory" apply to me?

[Tap, tap, tap] Is this thing on? Yeah, I know. I said I'd blog and I didn't, but I'm back...again.

Back in summer 2010, I read this fabulous book titled REWORK by the founders of 37Signals. I had every intention of going chapter by chapter and writing life experiences that aligned with each chapter. Easy and interesting, or so I thought. Little did I know that later that summer, my career and life was about to be rattled.

Allow me to set the stage. Imagine've just moved your family (finally!) and you're taking some much needed vacation time to unpack and nest and then you get an email that includes the words "mandatory meeting at 9am". Well, that's never good. As you're thinking "I'm on vacation, does 'mandatory' apply to me?", the short answer, is yes, it does and if you're ever been through a layoff or significant change in your job/company the word "mandatory" is extraordinarily scary.

Now, I've been through layoffs...about eight of them and survived all, but two. This was different. Long story, short, the company was shutting down, but good news (for some), you'll have a job at a new company tomorrow. Good news? Sure, the eternal optimist that I am, I embraced the fact that I would continue to be employed, keep up on the house payments for the house my family had just moved in to, and a laundry list of other things. Little did I know that my optimism wouldn't serve me well after a while and the next six months would be some of the most miserable of my career.

I had a tough time at the end of the first day at the new company (day 2 of my vacation, mind you) and went home in what I can only describe as a rage. What set me off? The password I'd been assigned didn't work and yet all those around me had working passwords or so it appeared to me. Instantly, I knew it was best to be where others are not. Who knew that a password would reduce me to a crumpled mess of tears and anger?

In those six months, the roller coaster of change and emotions continued and we rallied around, laughed at, and bemoaned at our situation. Eventually, colleagues/friends moved on and we've all bee happier for it. I knew I'd join them...soon.

Unbelievably, nearly nine months have gone by since that time. Back when I was looking for a new role, I emphasized how critical it is to pay attention and utilize your network and be a connector--it was and continues to be a saving grace. I paid attention to information that came my way and I reached out to my network and voila, change happened.

Since then, the list of positive things continues to grow:
  • I'm back at Microsoft in a marcom consultant role that I enjoy, on a team that I like, and with an awesome manager
  • I lost 20 pounds and am still going
  • I'm doing a lot of cooking and changing my eating habits a bit
  • I started played golf regularly and earned a "most improved" award from my club
  • I made a number of friends (whom I adore) in my neighborhood (which I love)
  • I'm involved with the ladies golf club, rec committee, and PTA
  • My family continues be healthy and flourish
  • and more...
I've learned that I'm okay and can keep my head above water. Change is good, but it takes a toll and most times the toll is worth it.

While cliche, it's true that when one door closes, another opens. What no one ever tells you is that the path to that other door isn't always clear or easy. Rest assured, you'll get there...and Sad Clown will be with you the whole way. :)

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