As Marley’s Ghost says in Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol – “Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
When I became unemployed last year I found out that like Marley’s ghost, my business life devoured me and that was my life. I had become very business minded which is ok if that is what your life to be. Unfortunately that was not my goal from the beginning.
The beginning for me is childhood. I always envisioned being a stay at home Mom, taking care of what mattered most. Of course when we are children you don’t think about things like bills and making ends meet, such good carefree times.
Of course after I married my darling hubby we talked about what we needed to do to get our family in full swing. We made the five-year plan, making as much money as we can get a savings built so at the end of the five years we could buy a home and have a family. So we worked and saved and I was lucky enough to have a job where the opportunity for overtime was there. I figured since it was just darling hubby and I, I could concentrate on making money and it would not affect anyone. Well this is where I was wrong.
At first it was ok we worked hard, I actually worked my way up in the company ladder. I started off as a receptionist and by the time I had my first baby I was the assistant to one of the directors in the building I worked in.
We saved money, got pregnant, got custody of our niece and nephew and actually bought a home and had it built. We settled into family life at a good pace. Of course one thing changed, because we got custody of our niece and nephew it made the need for more money apparent so I didn’t stop working. I continued on and put my first-born in daycare. I continued the fast pace job.
At the time I thought nothing of it, I was providing for my family, being responsible. We lived comfortably enough to go on yearly family vacations, of course while on vacation I was on call. My family adjusted to my phone ringing constantly, having to leave family dinners, lose sleep and even run out on a holiday or two because of work. I lied to myself and made myself believe that I did not have any issues. I believed that I was there enough for my children, I kept telling myself that what I did was important and that I believed in the company I worked for.
One of my family’s favorite classic holiday movies is “Scrooge the Musical” you know, with the fine acting skills of Albert Finney. I always saw the mistakes that Ebenezer made and shook my head, but unbeknown to me I was slowly turning into that character. I was slowly becoming someone I did not want to be, a person so immersed in their work that everything else started to fade out.
Soon all this would come to a screeching halt.
Fast forward a few years…January 2012, work was still the same but two major changes happened in my life. I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd child and our CEO at work retired and we had a new Captain. I was unsure of this change and even said to my boss “You think we should be looking for new jobs?” My boss thought we would be safe so I relaxed.
June 2012, I was 6 months pregnant and I had a bad feeling. I had just come back from vacation the week before. I remember the vacation well. My best friend came to visit and we were suppose to have seen Eddie Vedder in concert but the concert was postponed to November due to an injury Eddie has sustained, my friend still visited and we had a nice relaxing time.
I was called into see the CEO and CHRO at the end of the workday and they fired me. I just sat there staring at them holding my pregnant belly. I held it together until I got in the car and called my husband on the way home, crying.
I didn’t know it at the time but this was my moment of freedom. I saw it as pure confusion, not knowing what to do from there.
For the next year I looked for a job while being pregnant, having a baby, going through holidays and during the holidays I saw the musical “Scrooge” and it all make sense to me. I realized that Jacob Marley was right to sum it up, life should have been my business when I was working. I shouldn’t have dropped my life to go to work really it should have been the other way around. I needed to stop work to participate in my life. There is so much I missed because I was working, I am thankful for what happened to me and know it was a plan that was set in motion by one greater than myself and I knew there was a plan for me I just had to find what it was.
As the year progressed I became happier spending time with my kids. Taking the time to get to know my new baby and building a strong bond with her. The deadline for my year of unemployment was coming close very fast. Through the whole year my best friend kept talking about freelancing and I finally opened my ears in May. Of course that is when I started this blog as well.
In these past three months I have been so blessed with great things. I have excelled faster than I thought I would (and it comes at a time of need). I am my own boss, I get paid for what I love to do and I am faced with great opportunities everyday. I see great growth in my future and being able to do what I love and still keep my family in the forefront.
I was reminded of all of this yesterday during an interview for a virtual executive assistant. In this interview one of the questions that was asked of me was: Where do you think you will be in 5 years? My answer was well a lot has happened to me in the last 13 years to get here and I have learned a lot from that experience and the most important thing is, I will never lose myself again. That my family is important to me and I need to be here for them, and that is the beauty of freelance because you work on your terms.
No matter what you do or where you go the most important thing in your life should be your family. One thing my former boss would say was “You need to work to live, not live to work” of course she said that but did not do it.
I believe there needs to be a balance, you need to enjoy what you do for a living. You need to believe in the company you work for, and the cause you are taking up for. But most importantly you need to take the time for the people you love.
I hope I gave you some good things to think on.
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My next blog post will hopefully detail the outcomes of the two interviews I took part in yesterday and today.
I hope you stay tuned.