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I was lucky that my former employer had offered me a (non-obligatory!) outplacement program in order to support me during my career transition and get me back to work. I received mentoring from a personal consultant, a self-marketing workbook, many useful online tools and took part in a series of interesting workshops going from social media marketing over contract negotiation and networking.
A particularly valuable learning process, led by a very likeable and capable consultant, Anita, who taught me a lot about myself, as well as showing me tips and tricks in order to  systematically reintegrate into the work force. And most importantly, it helped me identify and manage my most important asset – talent.
During the first weeks I was able to determine my own agenda, I combined my soul searching adventures with some additional and modest money earning serving in bars and restaurants, and allowing myself a lot of me-time.
The time invested in myself, I took off on city trips, went out and met friends and new people, I began to excercise regularly and started taking long walks, I looked after a healthy nutrition, and found myself completely rejuvenated and re-energized. I never felt so alive in my entire life.Strangely, not working according to conventional standards, made me feel more successful and more productive.
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While my family and friends reacted rather strongly on the news, I was feeling quite alright with my so-called misfortune. I was thankful for the great times I had had and my former employer treated me well when I had to leave.
In the end everything happens for a reason and this was an obvious opportunity to sit back, relax and take a break from the corporate office life as we know it: everyday commuting, working between four walls, from 8 to 6 rather than 9 to 5, with no social life whatsoever and in a position that offers little to no perspective. And I was even lucky to have a most diversified job, so imagine otherwise. As I once told one of my French friends “J’en avais mar” and that about covers it all.
Although I realized that at a certain point I would have to come up with some kind of plan to reenter the work force, I didn’t apply for any vacancies at all, I just let all things happen in the natural flow of life. I felt hungry for marketing, but ignorant and not there yet.
Meanwhile, as my employer had let me go, I had some time on my hands to do the things I couldn’t while working or pick up on hobbies and interests I had forgotten about or didn’t even knew I had.  I gave myself permission to take off about six months in order to recover and to seize the opportunities that would raise to the occasion.
Loosing my job, only three things came to mind: freedom, investing in myself and making the best from my new situation. My dismissal came as an opportunity to take a break and renew my energy before taking off in another adventure. I was lucky that my former employer had arranged a (non-mandatory) outplacement program to help me reorient and manage my career change. I got personal guidance from an experienced consultant, a self-marketing workbook, online tools and all kinds of interesting workshops. A particularly valuable process led by my likeable and skilled consultant Anita, who thought me many things about myself alongside showing me a lot of tips and tricks to help me systematically land a new job.
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Longing for work-life balance and questioning the corporate lifestyle, had raised my awareness of new trends and different approaches on the topic. The article “Be More Productive. Take Time Off.” by Jason Fried, about unconventional and ground breaking working schedules, inspired and surprised me.

As founder of his company, 37signals, and whilst experimenting with innovative processes, he found that better work got done rather in four days than in five. With less time to work, time was less wasted. He concluded that when you have a shorter workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important. “Constraining time encourages quality time”, he claims.

Basically, if you focus less on respecting traditional office hours, and focus more on respecting your personal boundaries, your mental capacities and physical abilities, it benefits not only your employer in terms of productivity, but your own personal development and your work-life balance as well. Following his ideas led me to his TEDx talk filmed at TEDxMidWest about his radical theory of working.

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Before all of this, I  used to be a Marketing and Events Advisor for an international company in the automotive branch. Just like everyone else in the industry, I felt passionate about my job. Passionate. Don’t you just hate it when people say that? Admit it, it’s lame. By the way, if I ever feel passionate about something,

it’s gonna be life.

That job used to be pretty amazing and my employer always treated me in a proper and correct manner. I was kind of a workaholic back then. Even now, one of my biggest struggles in life and work is knowing when to turn off my engine. Still, the first feeling when I left, was one of great relief.

The problem wasn’t my good will or my drive to make things happen. By the end of 2012, roughly ¾ out of the original marketing budgets, were no longer accorded to our local department in favor of the larger markets. A logical strategy, only as a “passionate marketeer” I was left behind to take care of the bullshit jobs and however the creative efforts you made and how they contributed to the overall progress and functioning of your organization, they became negligible.

So why do my best?

In times of prosperity and opportunity,  working up to 60 hours per week and having no private life, didn’t bother me at all. I was even incredibly grateful and felt spoiled that I had the chance to express my creativity in this exciting marketing function. But when times changed, and there was no more room for creativity, even 40 hours a week became too much. The typical ailments came to the surface. Suddenly the daily commute bottled me up and I started loathing the island, the office walls, the lack of a social life and the little prospect the job provided.

In the end, the corporate life left me wondering about personal development, significance and a framework that would allow me to determine when, where and how I worked.

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That’s right, all the way back to 2012. Yes, that’s two years ago. That’s how long it took me to get from there to here. And trust me, that’s a long and long and… very long time to keep on going where you think you’re going.

I spent months working on business plans, listening to other people’s advice, feeling insecure, making no money, going from idea to idea, workshop to workshop, webinar after webinar… Only to end up taking on a full time position for a job I no longer aspired and in an industry I disliked. Imagine how I felt… nay, not very promising indeed.

Continue reading HOW IT ALL STARTED BACK IN 2012