Our first guest blogpost for April is from Tom Hickey, a true survivor of many life changing events. Tom writes candidly for us today about being made redundant after 42 years working with the same company. He provides great learning from his experience, and gives tips on how to handle redundancy…
Last April my employer, Irish Examiner, was looking for voluntary redundancies. After 42 years I felt restless and knew I wanted to leave. The newspaper game was changing and my role as sub editor was about to face an uncertain future. Did I want to be part of that change? Er, no.
Redundancy means freedom?
A protracted delay in my exit left me deeply frustrated. Once I had decided to leave I just wanted to go. I found the final days difficult. There seemed to be 48 hours in every day. On December 31 I finally collected my redundancy pay, said farewell to my colleagues, and practically ran out the door. The relief was instantaneous. Freedom!
I thought about how would I keep myself busy. I had started a blog some months earlier and the response had been very encouraging. Managing the blog, starting a book, and freelance writing were high on my list. What could go wrong?
When fantasy meets reality
The reality was somewhat different, at least initially. It felt strange being in total control of each day. I could sleep in if I wanted, stay up all night watching TV or reading. The first weeks felt a little odd and awkward: signing on for Jobseekers Benefit and visiting the post office to collect my first payment were embarrassing.
The redundancy package wasn’t huge, but together with my wife’s income, should last up to my pension kicking in at 65. Another job seemed unlikely at my age, so I based my projections (including redundancy calculator) on the basis that I might have no other income apart from Jobseekers Benefit for 39 weeks.
It’s a strange feeling when you have never been unemployed in your life. I started looking for work. I had one response saying I made the shortlist – that was two months ago. It was annoying to be left dangling like that, but I learned to put it to the back of my mind.
Getting out of the redundancy rut
I joined the library, penned a few blogs, watched some TV and then became disheartened. I realised I wasn’t using my time well. On the plus side, I didn’t miss work. I needed a focus; a routine that could be both flexible and productive.
I had to get out of the house more and meet people, so I got in touch with friends and former colleagues for coffee or lunch. I prioritised the book and put the blog to one side. I went to the library to start some research and have just completed the first couple of chapters. Progress! I also resumed playing chess with my local club.
What am I learning from redundancy?
- It’s important to have a structure not alone to your day, but also the week
- If I have to defer a project it must be done later in the week
- I was asked if I would write three short features and I gladly accepted
- Time is something I have plenty of and I intend to use it wisely
I hope to write more features, although right now there’s nothing in my Inbox. I don’t let that put me off, instead I shift my focus to other things, such as attending a conference on data journalism. Not alone was it an opportunity to meet former colleagues now scattered around the country, but also a chance to add to my knowledge. I mix up the day so that I haven’t time to be bored. The book, for example, is not deadline driven. I am happy to have started it and to watch the story unfold on screen. The main point is to avoid shelving it.
The biggest lesson I learned was that redundancy takes getting used to. Leaving a job after 42 years is a huge deal and mentally exhausting. Chilling out is very important – but don’t relax for too long. I regret not using the eight months before I left my job to prepare properly for my new life, but I don’t beat myself up about it. What’s done is done.
Tips on how to deal with redundancy
- Don’t become a slave to TV or spend too much time reading
- Have a diary to fill in for the week ahead – it provides a good starting point
- The garden also needs attention now that spring is here
- Find a place nearby where you can enjoy a good walk
- Twitter is a very useful resource and a wonderful way to connect with people and find amazing articles
- Set both short and long-term goals
It’s important to have a positive focus in the years ahead and not be put off by setbacks. Who knows what the future holds, but whatever happens I don’t regret taking redundancy.
By the time you read this I will blogging again and engaging more on Twitter and Facebook, something I have been slow in doing lately.
Sometimes you have to take risks in life and not be afraid. It’s not all about money or career advancement. It’s about being happy and in control of your life. Fortunately, I also get to spend more time with my wife Trish. What could be more rewarding than that?
So life after redundancy can be productive, effective and enjoyable. But not without a vision, clear goals and action. If you are struggling with how to cope with redundancy, have a look at our post Top 10 tips on how to cope with redundancy.
Tom Hickey is former sub-editor with the Irish Examiner. He was burned as a child and blogs about facial disfigurement and his life at hickeysworld.com He tweets at @1TomHickey