Monday, June 25, 2012

Redundancy: The Best Thing That's Ever Happened to Me

As the Australian news breaks that more than 2000 workers in the media and over 5000 in the manufacturing industries will be made redundant, I reflect on my past 11 months since the velvet hammer of redundancy hit me square on the head.

When I was growing up, the big scary word was “redundancy” and it would find its way into Sunday afternoon barbeques and dinner parties. The grown ups feared redundancy. The kids had no idea what it meant. The politicians suggested we needed thousands of “redundancies” so we could have the recession we had to have. Emotions and stakes were high during that time and as a child there was very little positivity about a workplace act that affected our families in such a major way.

Being great at my job in an organisation I was extremely loyal to, I never thought it would happen to me.

The days and weeks following my redundancy I found freedom in catching up with old friends, some of whom had been through a similar experience. All of them told me that I would look back on being made redundant as the best thing that could have happened to me, and at the time I found this difficult to believe.

Until now, 11 months and two weeks later.

Redundancy has afforded me time to reflect on where I was at in my career and to start to work on where I wanted to head. Instead of looking at the losses, I looked at the gains of which there are many.

I was given a very generous pay-out, so I paid off our debts. The freedom of being able to sleep at night knowing that I didn’t owe a cent to anyone felt fantastic. And I still had some left over to play with.

The financial freedom of leaving work and not being forced into looking for another income immediately also meant I could review my goals and make some plans on how I wanted to achieve them. I still ask myself what I want to be when I grow up and I still have no idea, but I do know what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to work for an organisation that devalues its staff and doesnt recognise my right to a healthy work-life balance. I don’t want to go back into the corporate world of cut-throat politics where I am constantly watching my back. This is not my ideal reality, and I am now fortunate enough not to be forced back into that.

I have added to my love of travel in the past year. I volunteered on a house building project in Cambodia, I floated around Indonesia on a make-shift boat that are sometimes used to carry asylum seekers. I snorkeled off the coast of Java with my youngest son. I spent time in a gorgeous old cabin on Rottnest Island in WA to celebrate my husbands coming of age (he was a late bloomer!). I have shopped and dined in Melbourne on more than one occasion. I explored Komodo Island to find some dragons. I ate amazing local delicacies (not Komodo Dragons).

I enrolled in a writing course - for fun!

I collect my son from school every afternoon and I have energy to help with homework and reading. I now enjoy time on the weekends to lounge around in coffee shops. For hours, you can find me reading the paper and indulging in social media. And meeting new friends over a Zambian skim flat white (also known as networking).

I’m putting my learned skills to good use by working in a smaller company who can't pay me as much as I’m used to, but who genuinely value the skills and experience I bring. I’m really enjoying working in an organisation that is fairly stress-free but also challenging at the same time. Its not where I see myself in a years time, but right now it’s exactly where I want and need to be.

Basically the redundancy has allowed me to take back control of my life, I now have the power to do with it what I want.

So for those employees at Fairfax and News and Toyota etc who are facing the barrel of the unknown with a redundancy, I give you the advice I was once given.

Redundancy will be the very best thing that has happened to you - if you let it.