What My Year In Career Hell Brought Me

In early 1997, I was working for a company which had been good about training me but could not provide any further advancement.  One day, out of frustration, I made a “knee-jerk” decision and took an offer with a firm that had been trying to recruit me.  I was full of high hopes, but less than two months later, I realized I’d made a poor decision.  Back then, I didn’t know what I know now about priming myself for a career transition, and, boy, did I jump into the fire!

Wrong WayI soon realized that I had different values and different goals than my team.  They measured success by sales commissions, while I measured success by making a difference with customers.  Being a persistent person (a trait that is both a strength and a curse!), I unwisely stayed there struggling to make myself fit in over the next year – a year I sometimes refer to as my year in career hell.  I was absolutely miserable.  They must have realized it, too, because just when I finally decided to quit, they gave me two weeks severance pay and terminated me.

To be fair to myself, I should point out that I wasn’t the only unhappy employee.  The environment was pretty toxic, and the crazy amount of employee turnover proved it.  By the time that year was over, there was only one person left out of about 15 or 20 who had been working there when I was first hired.

What’s strange about the whole thing is that even though I had come to hate my job, when they fired me, I was angry.  How dare they?!  I was also crushed and bruised.  The whole experience caused me to question my abilities and my career path.  Maybe I wasn’t as good as I had thought I was…

Fortunately, it didn’t take long to adjust my attitude, and, to this day, I believe getting fired from that place was one of the best things that ever happened in my career.

Why?  Because of the lessons it brought me.

First of all, I learned what not to do. I learned to not stick with something I don’t love and doesn’t fit. Life’s too short!

Secondly, it taught me empathy for those who are laid off or fired. Good people get fired all the time. This has made me so much better at my career services work.

Finally, it was a very important (and necessary) catalyst to move me here where I am now in my professional life.  It helped me hone the ability and passion to help others to go after the work they love and not settle for just a job – to design the life they want and not just settle for whatever happens to come along.

After that awful experience, I went through a personal and professional self-esteem building process and landed in a great job which was tailor-made for me.  One that I stayed with for 8 happy years.  And, I might have stayed longer except that the company was bought, the culture started changing, and, well, I’d become a lot wiser than I was before, so I broke up with them first!

A couple of years ago, when reflecting on that year in hell, I had a new realization.  There was one more bonus that I’d received!  One of my colleagues from that toxic company had quit several months before I got fired.  We lost touch and about a year later, we ran into each other in the lobby of the building where I worked in my new, happy job.  She had joined a company on another floor.  That woman ended up becoming one of my dearest, closest friends over the last 14 years.

My year in career hell was just one of the many hardships I’ve gone though in life.  One thing is for sure, when it comes to hardships, I would much rather dwell on the “blessings in disguise” they bring.  And I’ve come to understand that they are always there – even if it’s sometimes hard to see them right away.

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Angela Loëb helps people rediscover and use their gifts so they can bring who they are to what they do. To learn more, please visit: www.insyncresources.com
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