My family knew that 2011 would likely hold a job/career change for me. I was no longer a fit for the company I'd been with for five years and needed to make a move before they were forced to fire me.
Little did I know that the job change would trigger all sorts of domino effects for us, most of them stressful at the time but very beneficial when looked upon with some distance and perspective. Thankfully Jamie and kids willingly hopped aboard the ride and we went through it together. Here's the lowdown:
Change #1 -- I quit my job in May
Obviously that's kind of a big deal, especially when you're the sole breadwinner in a family of five during a recession marked by terrible unemployment rates. But my family was behind me all the way, and may have even been ahead of me, waiting for me to catch up and make the bold move that they already knew was necessary.
What I learned: Sometimes you're too close to a situation to make the decision that's for your own good. Listen to someone you love and trust them.
Change #2 -- I was unemployed for two months
This duration may seem laughable when so many people have been out of work for much longer. But it was good for my spirit and my humility to detach from vocation as a form of self-identity. I had no job -- what would my answer be when someone asked, "What do you do"? And it allowed me (forced me?) to get real about what had gone wrong at my previous job, and what I would look for in the next one.
What I learned: It's easier to use a compass after you hop off the merry-go-round.
3. Change #3 -- I took a job that was different in almost every way from what I did before
I went from managing 11 people to managing nobody. From a low-technology company to a software development firm. From a very small company in decline, to a larger company in its second decade of consistent growth. From a huge office with amenities and four weeks of annual vaction to a cubicle with no prestige and very little vacation.
What I learned: Just because you climbed the ladder in one building doesn't mean there's an elevated tunnel to the next. You might have to climb down, walk across the street ,and start over again from the ground floor. And that can be a good thing.
Change #4 -- We moved over 800 miles to a new home... a half-mile from where I grew up
I never thought I'd be back where I lived as a teenager. That my kids would be zoned to the same high school I attended, in a midwestern suburb, and I would again be able to live so close to my parents. But here we are!
What I learned: Be very careful about the "nevers" in your plans. Someday you might have to eat those words.
Change #5 -- For the first time in our 13 years of marriage, we experienced financial stress
We moved and bought a house before our Houston house was sold. Actually it still hasn't sold, but things have worked out and some good friends of ours are renting it for a while. That period of making two mortgage payments and incurring moving expenses drained our liquid assets pretty quickly. This was a new source of stress for us and has been so educational.
What I learned: Your level of financial hardship is often relative to where you've been before. This is deceptive. A middle class family can freak out when the checking account gets low, while others feel blessed eating three meals a day.
These five things combined to spur a new type of change in my spirit, which I will illustrate and explain in the next post. It will show why I was so quiet on the blog in 2011.
Grace and peace!
The Swallows of Mission San Juan Capistrano
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