Being unemployed isn’t any fun, but it isn’t the end of the world either. I should know, I’ve been down that road twice now. The first time I was laid off (two years ago) came just as the Internet bubble was starting to crack. I had moved from Phoenix to Dallas on the promise of a high-paying consulting gig and I thought the gravy train had finally come in for me. My first mistake was celebrating like I had just won the lottery – I immediately moved into a house, bought a new truck and a brand new jetski. I hadn’t been in Dallas six months when the layoffs began.
At first, the work sabbatical was great. Then I decided I should think about a regular gig. I quickly discovered a technology market that wasn’t in a hurry to hire me and if anyone made an offer it was one-third the salary I had received just months before. When two months turned into four, I found my happy-go-lucky attitude change into a little desperation. During that brutal reality check I lost my house, the truck, but I managed to refinance the jetski (God’s wicked sense of humor given the fact I have nothing to tow it with).
I managed to land a new job which consumed all my free time. At first I didn’t mind, I saw the position as an opportunity to grow with a company and build an IT infrastructure from the ground up. But then came the endless complaints, long hours, last minute projects, and more complaints. I found myself becoming more irritated with each passing day. While I didn’t have any issues with the people I worked with, there was something just itching beneath the surface, gnawing at me.
I resided myself to the fact the everybody hates their job and when (if) the tech sector showed improvement I would look for something different. Well a year later the market didn’t improve and I found myself at the mercy of yet another company layoff. While I was caught completely unaware once the shock wore off I was quite relieved. Any pressure I felt on the job went away the moment I didn’t have to jump out of bed when my alarm clock went off.
I made use of the downtime by maintaining a schedule. I found I actually got up earlier than I ever did when I worked. I got back to the gym, started eating better and my relationship with my then-girlfriend (now fianc?) improved dramatically as well. Many of the projects I put off because I seemingly had no time, I made time for.
That was the moment that my destiny once again became my own. You see, I really don’t like the IT industry. Sure I may be good at it, but who wants all the pressure of user complaints, long hours and absolutely no job satisfaction. It’s not that I find people who are computer illiterate utterly annoying, I’m just amazed how trivial management makes my job seem when I save their @ss all the time. With a 24% unemployment rate here in Dallas I don’t know when I’ll return to the tech sector (if ever). However, I’m certain my next thirty years will be just as exciting as the first.