I lived for my job, being valued made me feel successful and important, the pay and perks were great too. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, my life seemed to be on the right track. The world seemed perfect until I was unexpectedly fired, leaving me ashamed and confused. This was a job security wake up call that I desperately needed, it ultimately changed my life.
When I was old enough to earn money I was expected to find a job. My Mother only seemed to care that I had a job, rather than how much I was earning. The ability to work for money opened up a new world, where my effort and skill made a difference to my bank balance. I learnt how to become a valued employee by building a reputation of being reliable. Promotions and rewards confirmed I was adding value to the company, which I believed indirectly meant safety from being fired.
In college I studied IT and applied myself to side hustles to generate a small income, but never imagined them as a serious career. My main focus was on graduating and entering the corporate world, where I expected to make some real money. My early years in the corporate world were enjoyable, being permitted to apply myself fully made me confident in my ability and value. Having a stable salary, which slowly increased each year, encouraged me to start a family and pursue a comfortable life. I started jumping to “better” jobs when I realized this was an easy way to boost my salary.
My peers were employees, but unlike me were afraid of losing their jobs, and dreamt about retiring one day to work on their hobbies. Those that invested seriously didn’t see any way of ever leaving their jobs. I couldn’t imagine not working, because contributing a company and being valued meant everything to me. I was a career professional, even taking work home, or on holidays to prove my dedication.
As I became more comfortable with life as an employee, I became less interested in finding other income streams. My side hustles were quickly replaced with reinforcing my IT skills, which I thought would build job security. The monthly paycheck felt a secure and dependable, so we barely saved except for rent and expenses. The remainder was spent freely on enjoying life, or gambling on shares to feel like I was investing.
Midway through my career, my misplaced dedication and sense of security was shattered. I was called into a meeting room and told to clean out my desk, my job no longer existed, there wasn’t a place for me at the company. I stared out the window as the managers calmly explained what would happen next. I wasn’t angry, just stunned, and left the office after shaking everyone’s hand and saying goodbye. Most of my colleagues shook my hand with bemused smiles, unsure if I was joking. I had collected a large bonus just a few months earlier, now I was collecting my belongings and exiting the building for the last time.
I had dreamt of achieving big things in my life, even felt I was rising rapidly on a career path I controlled. Losing my job made me realize I didn’t have any control. I was ashamed to be fired, maybe even more ashamed for believing I had job security.
With bills to pay and a family to support there was no time for self pity, my first priority was to find another job. I struggled through interviews for a job I wasn’t sure I really wanted, but still managed to get hired. I spent a year there, recovering from the shock of being dumped, and working out how to prevent it ever happening again.
It would be a great story if I turned my life around overnight and went on to make a fortune. The reality is it took almost another decade of training, practice, application, and timing to create that fortune, but that’s a story for next week.
Joe retired in his mid-thirties to spend more time with his young family. He started this blog to share his story, help others plan their path to retirement, and enjoy retired life.
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