I remember the day I got laid off. While the HR woman was reading off some legalese about my rights and benefits, my mind was drifting off to a beach, where I’d relax, sunbathe, and take some time off.
At that moment, I was grateful that I was being given the time to plot my next move and create my dream job (while sipping a few Mojitos, of course). I decided I would never sit at a cubicle again, my alarm clock would never go off before 8:30, and I’d only work on projects I was passionate about.
But after I had packed up my boxes and walked through those corporate doors for the last time, another thought hit me: Um, so what exactly is my passion anyway?
I realized that I wasn't so clear on my dream job, or how to even approach planning the next steps in my career. And although I'm sure the answers were somewhere inside me, I needed to bring them up to the surface.
So I decided to enlist the help of a career coach—a move I’d recommend to anyone in my boat. Kristina Leonardi, a coach recommended to me by a friend, helped me figure out how to better integrate my passions into my job (after a nice beach break, of course). After meeting with her over several weeks, here are the important lessons she’s helped me remember and discover.
1. This is an Opportunity
Though many people feel like getting laid off or leaving a job is a tragedy, it can also be a gift that gives you a push toward your next opportunity. Often, when one door closes, it makes room for many new doors to open. Kristina reminded me that this was an opportunity to get to know myself better and find a life and work that was better in line with who I am. Hey, what could be better than that?
2. Manage Time and Money
Of course, when you’ve been laid off, the lack of a paycheck is definitely difficult. Luckily I had some savings and a severance package that would keep me going for a few months, but Kristina also taught me how to manage my time and money better. I actually started budgeting, learned how to spend money only on the essentials, and realized that happiness doesn't come from shopping sprees at H&M, but by being content with what I had.
I also made a schedule of things I needed to do to stay on track with my job hunt, as well as things that would keep me sane, like yoga, meditation, and even pedicures. Come on, sometimes the best ideas come to you during a foot massage!
3. Identify Patterns
After giving Kristina the lowdown on my work and life experience, she was able to connect some dots for me. She mapped out where I had been and where I might want to go, but didn’t realize I could. Growing up and throughout my career, I loved storytelling, video producing, and generally parading myself in front of a camera (though for the most part, I'm really shy!), but I hadn’t put them all into one job before. Together, we found new ways to pursue jobs that involved video producing and hosting.
She also encouraged me to develop the more latent parts of my personality though “extracurricular” activities—trying stand-up comedy, for example, has helped me build my confidence and presence in front of any audience. I would have never thought of that on my own, but I now often do open comedy mics—and I love it!
4. Stop the Get Rich Quick Ideas
At several points during my career, I wanted to invent the next Facebook, start an NY real-estate empire, or pursue other big, get-rich ideas that didn't have anything to do with how I really wanted to spend my time. But Kristina reminded me that I had an opportunity to do something that makes the best use of all my talents—and that I shouldn’t go back to doing things I hated just for money’s sake. The next job I pursued didn't have to be my dream job, but it at least should get me a step closer to it, not father away. Kristina was a voice of reason and a mirror that could remind me of my passions and keep me on track.
5. Be Comfortable in the Unknown
Most of us feel like we need to know it all—that we should have everything about ourselves and our futures figured out all the time. But Kristina got me to realize that it's essential to live a place where we don't have all the answers, and that the unknown is actually where the magic of our lives happens and unfolds. As long as you’re taking action to move in the direction of who you are and what you love, you’ll be presented with opportunities that you probably could have never planned for yourself. After all—as Kristina reminded me—there are whole new industries and titles being created every day.
I now work doing PR, marketing, and video production for an agency—a much better fit than my old job. And I’ve also continued doing comedy. I usually start my set with, "So my career coach told me to do comedy to cure my fear of public speaking. She's a terrible coach—I just peed in my pants!"
But of course that’s a joke. Working with a career coach is a huge opportunity for growth and positive change in all areas of your life. Kristina reminded me to be thankful for the opportunities I had (even the job loss), that I need to have patience, and that sometimes it really is the journey that matters more than the destination.