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Jo Howell was made redundant, but it isn't slowing her down.
Career & Business

Made Redundant?!? And…now?

50 Ways to Leave Your 40s – Experience #32: The Big R

Being made redundant wasn’t exactly on my list of experiences this year. However, not so many years ago I did put it out to the Universe that I didn’t want to be working for the now ex-employer by the time I was 50.  I just didn’t plan on moving on in this particular manner. Be careful what you wish for and all that……

June 29 at 10 A.M. the ‘call’ was made to the training team. 7 minutes later and I disconnected from the hangout with the realisation that my time was finally up. 16 years, 5 months and the redundancy wheel finally stopped on my name – wahhhh! Instantly I was hit with a mix of emotions – shock, fear and excitement. Yes, definitely excitement!

>READ: JUST GOT LAID OFF? HERE ARE THE TOP 6 THINGS TO DO

I headed to Wimbledon that weekend and as the news broke to my colleagues — no, friends—there were tears (theirs and mine!), shocked open mouths, lots of hugging and the odd barbed Made redundant? Use your new free time to focus on what you want. comment towards my employer and how crazy they were to make such a decision. I’d looked after the contract for the entire 16 years. I was the Godmother of SW19 – how could we even contemplate me not being here again?! Who would lead the training, motivate the managers and check the uniform standards on Day 1? Not me it would seem.

As I left the world’s greatest sporting event (their words, not mine) for the final time 3 days later, I felt sad – it’s the end of an era after all – and remarkably calm; like a huge tennis-shaped weight had been lifted from my shoulders. My lovely colleagues sent me off with a beautiful leaving present of four huge ‘Wimbledon’ wine glasses. Maybe they know something I don’t and are expecting me to hit the bottle in the dark times of my unemployment!

And so, the handover of work began. But seriously, how do you even begin to capture 16 years of work in a report or an email? I deleted, updated, amended and deleted more stuff as I built a folder for my colleague to refer to — will she need to know the finer details of an Antique Fair or the contact name of the Search Inspector from the Met Police? Does she need every training plan I’ve ever created or an idiot’s guide on how to build an online web page?

Now some may say I was stupid for even worrying about the finer details and providing a solid handover — I was the one without a job after all. But in a way, I felt sorry for my colleague. She didn’t ask for the decision any more than I did. She already has her own job and by some weird twist of fate, she now has mine as well. I chuckled to myself, maybe I was the lucky one to be moving on after all?

And then all of a sudden July was over and on the 31st I handed back my lifeline (well my laptop and phone) to the business I’d spent a bloody long time working for. A business that wasn’t perfect by any means and like many corporate companies, wasn’t that brilliant at looking after its own. But it was my life; my job; my routine, my world…and now it was gone, just like that.

Wednesday, August 1— Day 1 of my new corporate free life!

My company car was picked up (thank god I was seeing the back of it – bloody Jag!) and I picked Being made redundant can mean handing back in company perks --but you'll be OK! up my own car; nobody else’s – just mine. And boy, did it feel good!

No laptop to switch on; no phone to check.

My home office got a deep clean/throwing away of corporate crap/move around and as I arranged my desk to how I wanted it to look, I did feel a tiny pang of sadness. I wasn’t “Jo the Events Training Manager” anymore. I wasn’t the one who created online training. I wasn’t the one who had the answer to most things (due to the time being there not because I was a smart arse!). I was just me. Just an Average Jo.

>READ: HOW TO TRANSITION TO A NEW CAREER

And now a week later, how do I feel? Still a little scared of what the future holds. A little lost. Out of my routine (I did the housework on a Wednesday! I never do the housework on a Wednesday!). But most of all I feel positive. I know for a fact it’s going to turn out OK and I know for a fact I will look back and be thankful one day to have been made redundant.

Redundancy isn’t the end of the world. It just feels that way for a moment or two. Being made redundant, with the right mindset, is an opportunity to grab with both hands and go create some magic on your terms.

And that’s my plan going forward – everything I do now is on my terms. Fact.

>READ: 50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR 40S: THE BIG SALES. WORTH AN EARLY RISE?

>READ: 50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR 40S: JUST AN AVERAGE JO BECOMES A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER?

>READ: ALL OF JO HOWELL’S 50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR 40S

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