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If You Will It, It Will Come, by Carmen Cardoza

The weekend before I was laid off I sat at the beach for hours writing my five year plan...

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The weekend before I was laid off I sat at the beach for hours writing my five year plan.  Part of my plan was to stay at my job for five more months while I prepared to become a freelance consultant.  When I was done, I looked out at the horizon, admiring the golden hues in the sky as the sun was setting.  I asked God “Am I doing the right thing?”

Being a mother, I couldn’t just take risks like quitting my job and starting my own business.  It’s what I wanted to do more than anything, but what if…? Look, if it were just me I’d say ‘bring it on’.  I could live on brown rice and without cable indefinitely -- but it’s not just me.  It’s me, my daughter, school tuition, rent, utilities and a car.  I couldn’t fathom voluntarily creating disorder in her life.  So, making five year plans, being discontent at work, constantly asking God what to do, all while having a roof over our heads was kind of ‘working’ for me. I think I may have asked God to tell me what to do one too many times because five days later, I was laid off.

My boyfriend, Tony, let out a sigh of relief when I told him. “Now you don’t have to keep wondering when you can start your company. You can start it now!” Yes, but being laid off wasn’t part of my plan!  Now I’ve been pushed into the vast unknown.  Well, actually I did know this.  From where I was standing – hiring was a thing of the past and layoffs were rampant.

So, what was I going to do?

I went back to the beach.  My visits to the beach, with its infinite skies and the sounds of the ocean, have become my therapy.  The horizon always moves me with thoughts of limitless possibilities.

This time, I was there with a girlfriend who was complaining about the subpar designs presented to her by a website developer.  She was panicking because her site launch was in a few weeks.  I felt a butterfly flutter in my stomach.  “What if I give it a try?  I can have something for you in the next couple of days.  If you like it, do you think you’d give me a chance to develop your site?”  And that’s how I got my first project (and rent for the next three months).

During those months I worked on my own site and landed a couple of other projects through referrals.  But, I was on edge.  Once these projects were finished what was I going to do?  How would I get more projects?  Now, you can only imagine what state of mind I was in if I, a marketing professional, was asking those questions.  But, I was not asking these questions as a marketing professional.  I was asking as a very frightened mom.  I didn’t know if I was heading towards the light or towards a dead end.

Well, a month later I was heading to Antigua, Guatemala with Tony and his family to celebrate Easter Week.  The processions winding through the cobble stone streets were remarkable. The entire city perfumed with frankincense burning day and night. We hiked up an active volcano, admired jade jewelry, ate fantastic food – and I was miserable. Here I am eating, drinking and traveling, courtesy of Tony, and I have 2 cents to my name.  That just didn’t sit well with me.  I was even considering having my daughter live with her father for a while. I could put our things in storage and move out of our condo until things stabilized.  From that point on, my throat tightened and the back of my head ached for the remainder of the trip.

As we were driving home the night we returned from Guatemala, Tony was reliving the great trip as I felt myself sink deeper into an abyss.  That night I took a warm shower, put on my pajamas, and sat on the floor. When Tony walked in he found me bawling. I don’t remember how I got to bed that night, but the next day I woke up with excruciating jaw pain.  

I needed to make a change. I was making myself sick and crazy. ‘Girl, snap out of it.  If you found someone you love in this state of mind what would you do?’ I would lift her up and tell her to take charge.  So, I did.

First, I got mouth guards to relieve my jaw pain.  Then, I registered with a temp agency.  They looked at my resume and warned me that they occasionally get requests for higher level professionals and the pay may not be what I’m used to.  I let my recruiter know that I’m just looking to keep my creative business juices flowing as I build my clientele and pay the rent – I wasn’t expecting much more.  In the meantime, I landed a small project courtesy of a referral from my former boss.

Then one day I got a call from the temp agency.  They were delighted about this new assignment because they were sure I would love it and that the company would love me. The assignment was with a small global management consulting firm and I’d be working with its president, Victoria. I interviewed the very next day and got the job! That evening Tony and I headed back to our beach; when we got there I took many deep breaths and I prayed.  God must have said, “Good, you’re starting to listen.”

A year later, I am a freelance business consultant for the global management firm where I did the temporary assignment. I’m building my portfolio and I continue to get referrals.  During this time, I hit a dry spell.  Things were slow during the holidays, and once again, I started to backslide towards panic. I almost slipped back into doom and gloom world.  Except this time I was prepared.

I had reserves.  Frugality and I had become the best of friends.  I learned that from Tony, who has been successfully running his own firm for over 14 years. He advised me to pace my goals. Not to overwhelm myself with grandiose expectations in the beginning.  Okay, focus on survival – not hitting the million dollar mark.  So, I learned to embrace humility and be willing to do whatever is necessary and sacrifice whatever is unnecessary, to achieve my goals.  I couldn’t even afford to be discouraged.  My favorite luxury these days is having three months of rent in my bank account.

I had two mentors, Tony and Victoria. It is priceless to find a teacher you believe in and who believes in you.  Victoria is easily deemed one of the best in the industry by world class companies around the globe.  When someone like that tells you that your work is fantastic and that she sees great things for you – you believe it.  When she encourages you to continue on your path – you stay on that path. She shared with me that there was a brief period when her business survived on credit but, she was never the least bit worried about it – her staff can vouch for that.  She even turned down projects because they were too boring – yes she did! That’s not my recommendation, but I did realize something. You must walk this journey with faith in yourself and absolute confidence.  And, if you don’t have some, get some. This is about knowing exactly what you want to do and being at peace with it.

I started being very clear with God.  Now, you may have noticed that I’ve mentioned God and prayer a lot. The truth is that God and prayer play a huge part in my journey.  I’m not preaching religion, but I will say that for me having faith and confidence in myself is having faith in God, and vice versa.  God takes action through you.  So, I told God exactly what I needed.  I needed to work.  I needed a pending proposal to be approved so I can start working again. And I made my own commitment. I meditated and listened.  Then, again, I took charge.

A client referred me to a contractor looking to market his construction company.  Unfortunately, with construction being one of the hardest hit industries in Florida, he couldn’t afford my services.  That day I called him and decided I would help him. We would move forward with the project and work out a payment arrangement.  Needless to say he was very grateful.  As we were talking I got a call on the other line.  That proposal I prayed for – approved!

I became a hopeful mom (see frightened mom above).  In all of this, through my daughter’s lifesaving and uplifting eyes I’m learning to see hardships and scary moments with a lighter spirit, a constructive mind and a hopeful heart.

And I hope that many years from now, my daughter and I will be walking on a beach and talking about the dreams she’s chasing.  I will tell her this –

“Just know that things may be tough but it’s not a life sentence – it’s simply life.   You have to motivate yourself when things are not going as planned.  You have to sustain a momentum even when nothing is happening.  You have to practice strong willed discipline on a daily basis.  And for your sake and the sake of those that love you, you must take good care of yourself.

Nothing that is great is ever easy, but it is possible.”

 

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