Or, Why Losing my Job Was The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me
Week 1 – Free Falling into Uncertainty
- What if you were handed the opportunity to finally do what you always wanted to do?
- What if that opportunity actually started out looking like the worst thing that could possibly happen?
- What if you could take that bad situation and turn it into the opportunity of a lifetime?
Talk about free falling into uncertainty.
Finding out that I was being laid off was definitely such a moment. It was one of those things that could never happen to me, like being abducted by aliens, winning the lottery, or finding a really great pair of comfortable shoes that I could wear with everything.
It was just unthinkable.
The ground dropped away from my feet and suddenly nothing was secure any more.
But after the initial panic attack and melt-down, and subsequent trip to the liquor store, I managed to pull myself together long enough to ask the next question:
Now what the hell do I do?
I’ve always wanted to be a full-time freelance writer. It was my calling, my destiny, the only thing I ever showed any real aptitude for. Well, besides drawing, painting, gardening and being able to pull Star Trek quotes out of thin air at any given time.
But as an obscure artist and freelance writer, over time I had come to understand the main reason why most artists starve:
Lots of talent, no marketing skills.
So for the last two years, I have been on a quest to learn the very things that have been keeping me from my dream career goals – how to market myself as a freelance writer, how to land enough work to support myself, and how to hone my skills as a writer.
Because I had a steady, full-time job, I felt I had lots of time to get to the point where I could launch myself into the freelancing world, my successful marketing parachute securely in place and my timing just exactly right before I risked everything to take such an audacious step into the unknown.
I mean, that’s just sensible, right? Especially when you have a family to take care of.
You just don’t take chances.
And then the unthinkable happened. My secure, steady, full-time job ended and I was flung out of the allegorical airplane door before I had tightened the buckle on my allegorical parachute.
At least I think it was a parachute. I really hope I didn’t just grab someone’s backpack.
Free fall is a terrifying thing, especially when you realize you don’t have wings and that the space you are falling through is finite.
But being thrown into an unexpected circumstance has a way of sharpening one’s problem-solving skills. It blows away everything that isn’t immediately useful and forces you to focus on what needs to be done right now. The best thing you can do when you find yourself in a free fall situation is to trust the wind, trust your parachute and just embrace the moment because, really, what else can you do at a time like that?
Once I had some time to clear my head, I began to realize that I have been given the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to finally pursue the one thing I have always wanted to do. I realized that now was the time to put into practice everything I had been learning for the past two years.
It was time to become a freelance writer.
I sat down at the table with a notebook and a pencil, and started to map out where I was, where I needed to be and how much time I needed to get there.
After encouraging my very helpful cat to sit somewhere else besides right ON my notebook, I worked out a plan of attack and came to realize that, with my savings, some careful budgeting and maybe some part-time work, I have about six months to really focus my energy on my dream career.
Thus the birth of this blog series.
For the next 26 weeks, I want to document my journey to freelance success, my goals, what works for me, what doesn’t. My ups and downs, my failures and my triumphs, and hopefully some of the joys and fun moments along the way.
Feel free to follow along.
With any luck, we can all learn something in the process.
My main take-away for this week: The time will never be exactly right to start something new, pursue your goals or do what you have always wanted to do. All you ever have is right now, and if you wait until circumstances are exactly right before you take that chance or learn a new skill, it will never happen. There is always a way to adjust your thinking, your lifestyle or your priorities in order to finally make your life into what you have always wanted it to be.
So grab a parachute, embrace the free fall, and take the chance.
Next week: Regaining my Equilibrium.
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