A project professional, who has chosen to remain anonymous, provides an honest account of ‘the state of being not, or no longer, needed or useful’
Day one: Being told
COVID-19 has affected my role heavily. Given my work was outside the UK, not being able to travel to where I needed to be full-time posed a risk to whether I could get the job done. That is assuming there was a job to be done.
The day of answers arrived. I was told my role is no longer there. I did not feel much in that moment. I remember smiling and keeping my head up almost in denial that what I was being told was real. I remember I supported my colleague who found herself in the same position, trying to provide comfort. Again, I thought, ‘This is not happening to me’.
Days two to four: This is happening…
It begins to sink in that this is happening to me. I have come to realise that the job I cared about so much and took pride in does not exist. I am no longer needed or useful. This hurt. What did I do wrong? Could I have done anything to avoid this? I bet this is because I have not done enough or well enough. Tears are now out of control. My friend, who had me stay with her for those days, convinced me to share on LinkedIn that I am open for work. I really did not want to do that. I felt ashamed. People are reacting to my post. Do I want to read it?
Day five and beyond
What do I need to do? I need a critical task list. I have stuff to sort out. I just need to focus on that and be sad later. Also, why am I sad, really? This is not a big deal; I will just get another job and move on. What is wrong with me?
Responses on LinkedIn. Wow, people are incredibly kind. All the likes and the shares of my post. A good number of messages and calls to be had. Maybe things are not as bad as I thought? Regardless, I am still hurt.
Week three onwards
Something came to me. I saw a post somewhere on social media. It talked about happiness and how it should not be connected to who we work for, who we work with, even places or relationships. Happiness should be based on who we are and what our mission is. Authenticity. I know my mission; I spoke of it so many times. I compile five mission statements:
- Never-ending learning – I always wanted to do a master’s. Well, I have time now. Let’s look at available courses and how I can fund it.
- Remember to enjoy myself. What do I love doing outside work? Let’s do more of it, I have time!
- I want to be helping people. I need to fill my time with volunteering. Yes, I have time for it!
- Always be my authentic self and connect with people on a genuine basis.
- The next job I will get must align with my passion and drivers. It must allow me to be progressive, focusing on constant improvement and thinking differently through diversity.
Having considered my mission and focused on who I am at heart, without a job title and an organisation as my umbrella, I acted and utilised this process to realise I have so much in my life that goes beyond the professional plans I had. I am now an MSc student at York St John University. I love water and nature. Me and my friend (the one who supported me through days of tears) ended up on an amazing trip around the Scottish Highlands, where we slept in tents and paddle-boarded around the most remote villages I have ever seen.
I am an APM volunteer and most recently hosted a themed day during APM’s Think Differently virtual conference. I also work with a vast number of individuals who either want to start a career in project management or need some help with their next steps.
The emotional recovery from redundancy takes time. It is filled with a cocktail of sometimes intoxicating feelings: sadness, anger, self-doubt, fear over the future. Often there is no one or nothing to blame, it is just the economy and the impacts of a pandemic.
I want to let you know it is OK not to be OK. It is OK to feel sad and have moments of panic. You make you, and there is power in that.
I have a very long list of people who have supported me through this process. You know who you are. I am eternally grateful.
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