I have a new role!

It’s been three weeks since my last post, and the reasons for my hiatus in writing are abundant but can be simplified into one thing – cognitive dissonance. Here I am, writing a blog about taking a productive pause after I was covid-19 laid off along with millions of other people, and then two weeks ago, I found myself with a job offer for a new role. A really good job offer for a really interesting new role.

A few things happened when I got the offer. The first was feeling stunned – like wow, I actually got an offer. Just when my unemployment insurance benefits started kicking in and the $$$ +$600 direct deposits were filling my checking account coiffers, I got an offer during a freaking global pandemic.

“I got an offer during a freaking global pandemic.”

Second thing was feeling suddenly very, very frightened. Why? Because change is scary, change is different than now. Just as I was settling into a new normal and a routine and feeling empowered (maybe that confidence is what made me a competitive candidate?), I got an offer to change what that normal would mean. I would have responsibilities again. I could FAIL again. I would have a company and a team and a manager, someone to be accountable to. I would be working from home again. How strange!

When this pandemic first happened and everyone moved to working from home and self quarantine, I felt a kinship to all the social media content around “WFH Best Practices” and “How to stay productive.” Then when I was let go, I was easily repulsed whenever one of those articles types popped up in my inbox or newsfeed. Yuck, work from home, totally gross to someone who was still licking her newly-unemployed wounds inflicted on her self confidence. Getting laid off made me feel unimportant, not valuable. I felt like a loser, even though my rational mind had to keep reminding me that I was let go along with XX large percent of the company and that I was going to be fine.

I had just convinced myself that being unemployed right now was not that bad. The pandemic enhanced insurance benefits were stellar, a better paycheck than what most unemployed (and even previously employed) people could expect EVER. And I had a strong financial net, support network, and safe living accomodations. I was just getting used to change.

Then the offer came.

Being unsure if I wanted the change or if this was the right opportunity, I hedged – a lot. I asked for a faster decision (give me an offer next week) and more money (I need ten grand more, please). I was unsure if I had the qualifications to do all the things they wanted me to do… but I knew that I would figure it out.

Our mentality around a full-time job and a part-time/hourly job can be so different. When I look at part-time or results oriented work, I am convinced that I will do anything to hit that goal. Babysitting? I’ll travel 1.5 hours to the home and do whatever random child-friendly activity to qualify for the XX dollars per hour. A full-time job asking me to create a financial analysis? I cringe and feel myself want to sit hidden away in a broom closet somewhere twindling my thumbs until the next paycheck. Why is that? When money is guaranteed like a salary is, I often want to shirk responsibility. I read somewhere that humans are motivated to take the path of least resistance. It is why being a “self-starter” and determination are such sought after qualities in job descriptions.

“Out of all the possible actions we could take, the one that is realized is the one that delivers the most value for the least effort. We are motivated to do what is easy.”

James Clear

Circling back – so I got the offer and it all looked good. It was another startup which is why they were able to turn around the hiring decision so quickly. In fact, I was speaking directly with the Co-founder/CEO and so decisions were… real time. Whatever he decided.

So I accepted and asked to start tomorrow. I was excited and wanted to keep the excitement up for the ramp up period and meeting others. I also knew the salary was XXX times the amount of the unemployment checks and if I was going to transition off, I would like to do so sooner.

So I hit the ground running… and then my other recruiter (remember I like working with recruiters) told me that the company he worked with would like to move forward with my candidacy. I did a phone screening with the company’s HR person (prior to getting my current offer) and now they wanted me to meet an actual stakeholder (someone the role would interact with on a daily basis). I accepted.

After covid-19 lay-offs, it was clear that there is no such thing as company loyalty. There is no clear career path or how long you should stay in a role. I know I am responsible for my life, my decisions. And I want to always make the decisions that will be best for me. We all make decisions with the knowledge and resources we have on hand.

I had the one really good offer and I took it. Now I have another good opportunity to advance in an interview process, so I’ll take it. We don’t know what change will happen or what the future holds, but we can try to make decisions and choices that can lead to more options later on. We are decision-adverse because we are ambiguity-adverse, especially in this instant gratification world we live in. We crave instant feedback, we want to know if we were right or wrong – where we stand.

A productive pause is taking a moment to be still and take stock of everything you have and where you are. Productivity is not just mindless doing and on to the next, this is where the Pause comes in.

Whether employed or unemployed or somewhere along the spectrum, take a moment to look around. Do you know where you are? Do you like where you are? Is there somewhere you want to go / get to? How are you aligning your small decisions to get you there?

Getting the job offer made me realize that this blog isn’t just about being unemployed and trying to make the most of the situation. A productive pause is learning how to reorient my thinking and activity to better align with the life I want to live. I want to live an amazing life – what mindset will get me there and how can I develop that every day? what habits will help me and what behaviors should I enforce every day?

What decisions have you made recently? Are they going to provide not just more options, but the options you want, in the future?