It was 2015, I lived in Alberta Canada, and I was laid off from my job in the oil and gas industry.
I was certainly not alone. I was also not surprised. With commodity prices low, all companies were looking for ways to be more efficient and do the same amount of work, with less people to salvage their bottom line.
That is what the rational part of my brain says, anyways. The not-so-rational part of my brain struggled with being laid off much more. I was told that it is normal to feel a whole host of emotions when you are picked as the one to leave, and I certainly felt them all.
Compound those feelings with the mentality that my job defined my success, my strong passion be at the top of my industry, and my type A over achieving personality, this layoff could have been a disaster.
But, to my surprise, being laid off from my oil job – in a recession, was quite the opposite.
I was given the gift of time, an often forgotten about commodity. I was not about to waste this time sulking about what had happened TO ME. I was going to use this time to make things happen FOR ME. While fortunately my time of being laid off was short, it gave me a few amazing gifts:
1. The ability to reconnect with people face to face, in real life – about more than just work.
The world is online now, and that has forced so many of our interactions to be screen to screen and not face to face.
We communicate with coworkers primarily via email. We catch up with friends via text messages. We get passive updates on our entire social network via Facebook status updates, and we talk to the broader world on Twitter via trending topics and hashtags.
Instead of sitting behind all of the various screens I have, I made the most of the gift of time and connected with people – face to face. But, its not just the fact I was re-connecting with people that was insightful, it was the nature of the conversations that was refreshing.
For me, since my career had been such a big part of my identity, I found that so many of the discussions I had were centered around my work. And, because I am often overly passionate about the projects I do, I can ramble on for an awfully long time about my current project in my work life.
But now, now that I didn’t have work to talk about, I am talking about my other passions in life – and so are other people. It’s refreshing.
With a drastic decrease in job postings and traditional employment opportunities during a recession, people are starting that business they always wanted to, or taking that job they may not have typically taken – its inspiring.
My time off work actually created inspiration in an environment of overwhelming desperation.
2. The ability to fully disconnect and re- evaluate what is really important.
Self admittedly, I like to work – and not just work on any projects – I like to be on the hardest, messiest, highest profile projects – with some significant learning curves. Turns out I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie.
People like this have a hard time slowing down…ever. We are constantly rolling with whatever whirlwind we have jumped into. So, as uncomfortable as it was, I was forced to be still. I didn’t have to get up at 5 am, commute, work, commute, cook, clean, sleep, repeat. I got up at my own time and mapped out my day, on my terms, doing what I wanted.
I got on a plane and flew across the continent. I turned my phone off, didn’t reply to emails or messages . I stepped into the furthest thing from corporate life. I went to stay with a life long friend that I had seen only a handful of times since we were kids – mostly because life was always “too busy”. I stayed with her for a week – in a world very different than my pencil skirt and blazer everyday reality.
This week, her mother was in an Intensive Care Unit, on life support. In this week, when I could have been sulking about my lost job, she and her sister were making decisions about life or death.
My concern over not having a job actually barely crossed my mind the week I unplugged from it all and gained some serious perspective.
Out of my normal routine, and chatting with the new people I had met, I finally had the headspace to think about what it important to me? What do I want to spend my time doing? I had been so caught up in the daily shuffle, I hadn’t had time to think about what I WANT to do next.
Being laid off, gave me that headspace.
3. The ability to learn something new – and LOVE IT.
With my new found time and headspace, I was able to spend more time doing things I was neglecting. I was able to run in the afternoon sunshine vs evening sunset, I was able to hit up the less busy group exercise classes offered during the day, and I was able to dedicate some time to learn something new.
The year prior to this lay off, I had wanted to start a blog. A food blog. My coworkers had even nick named me “meal plan”. I was always talking about my latest creations, bringing “interesting” lunches to work, and forcing almost everyone to look at my photos of food. It was clearly a passion for me.
I never had the time to dedicate to figure out how to start a blog. Being laid off gave me that time and I was able to build www.mealplanaddict.com and I started blogging.
Getting this blog off the ground has certainly been more than “just” starting a website. I have been so fortunate that what I created was an online community. An online community where I have had the ability to influence and inspire others to make changes in their life for the better.
I had written a post about how I had meal planned myself happy and thought my mom, mother in law, and best friend would be the only people to read it. About an hour after I hit publish, my phone buzzed with an alert that my blog had unusually high traffic. My mind was blown. I receive feedback DAILY about how that post and my blog in general I have been able to impact someone’s life for the better – to inspire.
While I was fortunate to have only been laid off for a short time, that layoff has been one of the most valuable things to happen in my 10 year career.
In a time when being laid off can feel like ultimate rejection, I gained confidence. I gained a passion, and I gained the ability to realize that my definition of success is not defined by my job.
I know first hand that being laid off, particularly in a recession, is not typically pleasant, and I am not saying that being laid off is a positive life experience. That is exactly why I hit publish on this post (after some extreme hesitation..for 2 years!). I am hoping to share my experience to show a different angle in these tough times.
It is now 2 years later - to THE DAY and I have been working a 4 day work week in the non profit sector and in the rest of my time, building this blog which is now read in over 100 countries each month and has turned from hobby to full fledged side hustle.
I won't deny that it was a hard thing to get through - it was. I really do feel that through both this experience and my whole weight loss journey in general, that it's the hard things that are worth it. They are so hard when you are in it, but when you get out the other side it is SO SO SO worth it. So, whatever it is you are getting through, keep at it, fight through - it will be worth it.
So, there you have it. That is how being laid off in a recession created "the" meal plan addict blogger.