30 Days of Content

Day 0: Well F**k

Soooooooooo…

That went well.

Yes, there’s a story. I’ll get there.

And excuses, though none of them are very good.

Safe to say, though, this is not going the way I expected.

A few weeks ago I was laid off from my day job. Yep, COVID19 claimed me as another one of its victims. I had to turn in my computer, iPad, phone, company vehicle, a good chunk of pride, and of course the stability of a paycheck. I was up a creek without a paddle. Or a lifejacket. Or a boat.

Luckily I knew how to swim a bit. So I worked my way to shore to rest and regroup.

I felt a lot of things driving home from the office after being sent home – fear of the future, embarrassment at having been let go, weariness at the knowledge of all of the work I’d need to do to get another job and secure my family’s finances, and general annoyance and anger at having so little control over the situation I was in.

Truth be told I also felt a good bit of pity for myself. I had the whole “life’s not fair” and “why me?” track running through my head for a while. That’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. There’s still a lot of weakness and immaturity in me that I need to keep working hard to root out.

I have a lot of coping mechanisms – some good and some bad – that I employ in stressful situations. One of those is doing manual labor and/or exercising – getting the blood flowing and reminding myself that I can still work hard to get over obstacles. As coping mechanisms go it’s a pretty good one in moderate doses.

So springtime and my “momentary early retirement” coincided right around the time we were needing to build a fence at the house to surround our garden. Digging post-holes, pouring concrete, stringing and burying fence, setting lumber, building a gate, all of it was more than enough to get my mind off of things for a bit.

And then a couple days later it was time to get my mind back on things. I needed to get a job.

“I needed to get a job” is the last thing I want to write on this blog. I want this to be about how to get from a job that’s unfulfilling and unsatisfying to a career that checks all the boxes. I want for this to be a framework that you can take and implement so that you can do the same.I want this to be a great story, and I want for it to lead to great stories for all of you.

But this is the reality: I had no income, no medical insurance, no means of providing for my family; and my family is growing – we’re having a baby in July, at which point my wife won’t be working anymore either and will lose her insurance. So, yeah, tricky situation. The place I found myself required short-term stopgaps. As much as I’d like to say that this was the moment we threw caution to the wind and chased our dreams, that’s just not what happened.

This was a setback. Pure and simple.

But two steps forward and one step back is still progress, so as we say at Ethea Lab:

Onward and Upward.

I’m going to keep moving forward. I got knocked down a bit, but that will not be the last word.

I’ll write more on this over the coming days, but here are a few updates:

  • I have a new job. It’s with another engineering firm doing design work. It’s exactly what I’ve been trying to get away from in the first place, but it’s a necessary short-term solution.
  • I used the skills I’ve been developing in negotiating to keep my salary same as it was at my previous position, which I honestly didn’t expect to work. Small victory, but a victory nonetheless and it’s a nice reminder that the work I’ve been putting in to learn and develop new skills is paying off.
  • Finally, the way I got the new gig: I recently did a pro bono project for a friend who is developing commercial spaces in a lower income area near Kansas City. I did the electrical design, and the firm that did the mechanical and plumbing design liked my work enough to where they offered me a job directly after my reaching out to them. I got the new job within five days of being laid off, and was in the new role after only a week out of work (building a garden fence). That was a nice reminder that not only hard work, but developing a network will pay dividends when you least expect it and when you most need it.

As for 30 Days of Content, I clearly struck out on that one. I want to try again though, so let’s just call this a second at-bat. I’m excited to share more about the craziness ofthe past few weeks and about what I have been and will be up to moving forward over the next 30 days.

Until then – onward and upward.

All the best,

-Wes