I write this in response to an article in the Brisbane Times online today: “Losing my job helped me find a sense of purpose” by Jo Stanley. Having lost my job* in the last 18 months I can sympathize. Losing a long-term job or a breakup after a long-term relationship are two of the most dispiriting experiences that you are likely to go through. You lose an anchor in your life and the knock to your confidence can easily lead you into depression and a downward spiral – no matter how much you thought you were ready for it. Particularly, in my case where I had been working in the same university teaching-research position for 28 years. Loyalty is no longer an asset, indeed it can paint a target on your back, as many people will attest to. Universities are no longer an ivory tower (if they ever were) and are rapidly catching up to being as cutthroat a working environment as anywhere in the private sector.
The first 6 months were good. Like an extended holiday. But then it hits you about what are you going to do now? Your confidence wanes: how are you going to contribute anything as worthwhile to society or human knowledge again? How do I live without a regular paycheck if something goes wrong? Whatever happened to all the time you were going to have to keep fit, attend a gym, take up jogging again, do repairs and updates to your home and yard? A year has gone by and you’re achieved precious little of what you thought you would.
Similarly, to the experience of Jo Stanley in the article cited above it seems like you need to get to this point before you can make any progress. That you can’t ever live by half or at least I can’t. That doesn’t mean you need to spend every waking moment working. But you can’t become self-serving, unfocused and indolent either if you wish to keep yourself progressing and working toward the privilege of contributing to a better and more knowledgeable society. Life never owes you anything. Like Jo Stanley, I’ll be freelancing and working from home. Best wishes Jo and thanks for your article which has given me new strength.
* In my case, I was fortunate in being able to take a voluntary early retirement (VER) but I was under no illusion that I was being shown the door. The VER was just the inducement to go.