If You Will It, It Will Come : A Career Transition Story

10:42 AM

The weekend before I was laid off, I was sitting at the beach for hours writing my five year plan. My plan was to stay at my job for five more months while I prepared to transition into a freelance consultant. When I was done writing my plan, I looked out at the horizon, admiring the golden hues in the sky as the sun was setting. I asked “Am I doing the right thing?”

Being a mother, I could not just take risks like quitting my job and starting my own business. It’s what I wanted to do more than anything, but what if…? Look, if it were just me I’d say bring it on without a second thought. I can survive on brown rice, broccoli and without cable indefinitely -- but it was not just me. It’s me, my daughter, school tuition, rent, utilities, car, etc. I could not fathom voluntarily creating disorder in my daughter's life. So making five year plans, being discontent at work, constantly asking myself what to do, all while having a roof over our heads was working for me. I think I may have asked God to tell me what to do one too many times because five days later, I was laid off.

When I told my friend (in tears) he let out what sounded like a sigh of relief. “Now you don’t have to keep wondering when you can start your company. You can start it now!” Yes, but being laid off was not part of my plan. Now I had been pushed into the vast unknown. Actually, I did know this — from where I was standing, hiring was a thing of the past and layoffs were rampant. So, what was I going to do?

I went back to the beach. My visits to the beach, with its infinite skies and the sounds of the ocean, have become my therapy. The horizon always moves me with thoughts of limitless possibilities.

This time, I was there with a friend who was complaining about the sub par designs presented to her by a website developer. She was panicking because her site launch was in a few weeks. I felt a butterfly flutter in my stomach. “What if I give it a try? I can have something for you in the next couple of days. If you like it, do you think you’d give me a chance to develop your site?” And that’s how I got my first project (and rent for the next three months).

During those months I worked on my own site and landed a couple of other projects through referrals. But, I was on edge. Once these projects were finished what was I going to do? How would I get more projects? Now, you can only imagine what state of mind I was in if I, a marketing professional, was asking those questions. But, I was not asking these questions as a marketing professional. I was asking as a very frightened mom. I didn’t know if I was heading towards the light or towards a dead end.

A month later I was heading to Antigua, Guatemala to celebrate Easter Week. The processions winding through the cobble stone streets were remarkable. The entire city was perfumed with frankincense burning day and night. We hiked up an active volcano, admired jade jewelry, ate fantastic food — I was miserable. Here I am eating, drinking and traveling, courtesy of a great friend, and I have two cents to my name. That just didn’t sit well with me. I was even considering having my daughter live with her father for a while. I could put our things in storage and move out of our condo until things stabilized. From that point on, my throat tightened and the back of my head ached for the remainder of the trip.

As we were driving home the night we returned from Guatemala, my friend was reliving the great trip as I felt myself sinking deeper into an abyss. That night I took a warm shower, put on my pajamas, and sat on the floor — bawling. I don’t remember how I got to bed that night, but the next day I woke up with excruciating jaw pain.

I needed to make a change as I was making myself sick and crazy. I told myself "Girl, snap out of it. If you found someone you love in this state of mind what would you do?" I replied, "I would lift her up, look her in the eyes, and tell her to take charge." So, I did.

First, I bought mouth guards to relieve my jaw pain. Then, I registered with a temp agency. They looked at my resume and warned me that they occasionally get requests for higher level professionals and the pay may not be what I’m used to. I let my recruiter know that I’m just looking to keep my creative business juices flowing as I build my clientele and pay the rent – I wasn’t expecting much more. In the meantime, I landed a small project — a referral from my former boss.

Then one day I got a call from the temp agency. They were delighted about this new assignment because they were sure I would love it and that the company would love me. The assignment was with a small global management consulting firm and I’d be working directly with the president. I interviewed the very next day and got the job! That evening we headed back to the beach. When we got there I took many deep breaths and I prayed. God must have said, “Good, you’re starting to listen.”

A year later, I am a freelance business consultant for the global management firm where I started the temp assignment. I’m building my portfolio and I continue to get referrals. Then I hit a dry spell. Things were slow during the holidays, and once again, I started to backslide towards panic. I almost slipped back into doom and gloom world. Except this time I was prepared. I had reserves.

Frugality and I had become the best of friends. I learned that from a fellow entrepreneur and current of motivation, who has been successfully running his own firm for over 16 years. He advised me to pace my goals. Not to overwhelm myself with grandiose expectations in the beginning. Focus on survival, not hitting the million dollar mark. I learned to embrace humility and be willing to do whatever is necessary, and to sacrifice whatever is unnecessary, to achieve my goals. I could not even afford to be discouraged. My favorite luxury these days is having three months of rent in my bank account.

It is priceless to find currents of motivation along your journey. Currents who you believe in and who believe in you. I came across one such current in that temp assignment I secured. She is easily deemed one of the best in the industry by world class companies around the globe. When someone like that tells you that your work is fantastic and that she sees great things for you – you believe it. When she encourages you to continue on your path – you stay on that path. She shared with me that there was a brief period when her business survived on credit but she was never the least bit worried about it — her staff can vouch for that. She even turned down projects because they were too boring — yes she did! That is not my recommendation, but I did realize something. You must walk this journey with faith in yourself and with absolute confidence in where you are going. If you don't have any, get some and get it quick. This is about knowing exactly what you want to do and being at peace with it.

I started being very clear. Now, you may have noticed that I’ve mentioned God and prayer. The truth is that God and prayer play a huge part in my journey. I’m not preaching religion, but I believe that life takes action through you. So, I put it out there; exactly what I needed. I needed to work. I needed a pending proposal to be approved so I can start working again. And I made my own commitment. I meditated and listened. Then, again, I took charge.

A client referred me to a contractor looking to market his construction company. Unfortunately, with construction being one of the hardest hit industries in Florida, he couldn’t afford my services. That day I called him and decided I would help him. We would move forward with the project and work out a payment arrangement. This isn't something I do regularly, but I needed to do something. Needless to say he was very grateful. As we were talking I got a call on the other line. That proposal I was waiting to hear about — approved!

I became a hopeful entrepreneur mom (see frightened mom above). In all of this, through my daughter’s lifesaving and uplifting eyes I’m learning to see hardships and scary moments with a lighter spirit, a constructive mind and a hopeful heart.

And I hope that many years from now, my daughter and I will be walking on a beach and talking about the dreams she’s chasing. I will tell her this —

“Just know that things may get tough but it’s not a life sentence. It’s simply life. You have to motivate yourself when things are not going as planned. You have to sustain a momentum even when nothing is happening. You have to practice strong willed discipline on a daily basis. Lastly, for your sake and the sake of those that love you, you must take good care of yourself. Nothing that is great is ever easy, but it is always possible.”

If You Will It, It Will Come, by Carmen Cardoza - WorkLifeGroup

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2 comments

  1. Amazing! I am taking this as a direct piece of advice to me! You are truly inspirational.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @McNeal I'm so glad my story inspired you. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

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