What I Learned The Summer I Lost My Dream Job

Lessons Learned

Is it weird to have lost my dream job and spent the entire summer unemployed…and then say it was the best summer ever?

Well that’s what happened.

I love learning and I learned a lot this summer…

I learned about myself

I learned so much about myself this summer and had the rare opportunity to dedicate some serious time towards self-improvement. Losing my job shed light on some personality traits that could use some work. I started to see patterns. The time off allowed me to really see these things, and the more I noticed them, the more they bothered me.

So I sought to change. I talked to professionals, read books, and went through online programs. I’m still a work in progress, but we all have flaws. However it’s rare to really have time to address these flaws because we tend to fall back on old ways when we are busy just trying to make it through the day.

Processing my job loss and the end of a dream allowed me to understand more about failurefear, and worrying. I was able to take part in a 30 day mindfulness challenge and focus on personal growth and being present.

All of the different lessons, experiences, and thoughts this summer really progressed me in along in my minimalism journey. There was a lot of acceptance and healing and posts like this, this, and this.

This really was The Summer of Heather.

I learned about confidence

When you receive a letter that says you were terminated due to “incompetency” your confidence plummets. My confidence was already pretty low before losing my job. During my training I was consistently evaluated in great detail. This is completely necessary in a field such as public safety, but hard to take as the weeks and months wore on and still I was not progressing as I should have been. You want something so bad and you try so hard and yet it just doesn’t work.

My confidence tanked.

Also at every single interview I was asked about my drastic career change and abrupt exit. I completely understand and would ask the same question if I were sitting on the other side of the table. So I was repeatedly reminded of my lack of success at my dream job and had to share this piece of personal information with complete strangers on a regular basis. (Somehow talking about it on Simply Save is different, although not always easy.) It was uncomfortable and disheartening at times.

You need to be confident going into interviews! I may have used the “fake it ’til you make it” method for awhile but then a peculiar thing happened. One week I had 5 interviews. Over and over I shared my skills and experience and the more interviews I went to, the more my confidence returned. Sharing my experience reminded me, “Hey, I do have experience, I do know stuff!”

I learned about networking

My friends really came through during this period of unemployment. Many of them passed along my résumé or sent me job openings they came across. Several referred me to positions in their own company. This meant I often had to talk about my experience on the spot. I remember assisting at my chiropractor’s office right after I lost my job and he brought a patient back and asked if he could tell her about my job loss. Turns out she was a recruiter with a focus on human resources! So I spent 10 minutes networking with her while she was getting treatment. It was excellent practice in being ready to promote myself on the spot!

I also had the opportunity to attend a few blogger networking events. Networking is not my strength and it isn’t always easy for me to come out of my shell. These events were good experiences for me to get better at walking up to a stranger and telling them about Simply Save. Getting out of your comfort zone is where growth really happens and this summer I made it a point to do so.

On a related note, I learned how supportive people are. I was embarrassed that these people were cheering me on when I went after my dream and then I didn’t succeed…but I quickly found that they were just as supportive and encouraging when it didn’t work out and I was seeking to get back into HR.

Getting out of your comfort zone is where growth really happens. Click To Tweet

I learned about recruiting

Aside from Simply Save and the brief dream job in public safety, my background is in human resources and I spent a lot of time at my last HR job working on recruitment processes. So spending the summer on the other side of the table as an applicant gave me an inside look at the recruitment processes of several different companies!

I think you can always learn a lot by seeing how others do things. You can get fresh ideas and new perspective without recreating the wheel. That was a neat silver lining to my job search and I hope to carry out some of what I learned at my next job.

I learned about different industries

Between the military, my last HR job, and my dream job, my background is pretty much public sector government. I had a lot more interviews during this job search versus when I left the Army (likely due to 3 more years of experience and getting my MBA) so I got to learn a lot more about companies and industries nearby. I love learning so this was really cool to me! I was a finalist for a position at a well-known company that makes sandwiches that you see in your local gas stations, and I interviewed at places that make beef jerky, 3D printers, and hearing devices.

The cool thing about human resources is that almost every company needs them. I love learning so it was neat to learn more about the businesses around me!

I learned about my community

Max and I discovered the dog park, I did pet sitting and went on walks exploring neighborhoods I hadn’t yet traveled, I joined a local book club and connected with neighbors I’d likely seen out and about. I went to community events in my city and the metro area…fundraisers and pet events!

It was fun and at times was like being a tourist in my city!

I learned about personal finance

This summer was a true test of the progress I’ve made on my finances over the past few years. A few years ago I’d have been in serious trouble if I lost my job. I believe that paying down my debt and maintaining a standard of living well beneath my means made this summer a lot more bearable. I did dip into emergency savings twice but I was able to put the money back and even give additional money.

While I’m very excited to start my new position, I also learned that I really enjoy not working. I thought I’d get bored quickly and get cabin fever, but I found that I was able to keep busy and stay productive and that I really liked it! Even more motivation to reach financial independence…

That being said…

I am ready to go back to work! I’m looking forward to my new position and getting back to a normal routine. And income. I feel like I made the most of the time I had this summer and learned a lot. I’m feeling shiny and new and put together and ready to make use of these lessons!

Lessons Learned

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26 Comments

  1. I may have missed your post about getting a job – what type of company will you be working for? Congrats!

    • Hi Lisa, it was just a social media post about the new job. I plan to share more in tomorrow’s Week In Review. 🙂 I’ll be working in human resources for a nearby county.

  2. Sometimes what comes as a shock and derails you is actually a blessing in disguise. I think one of the best things you can learn is how to be resilient. The fact that you took your bad experience and learned about yourself will make you so much more successful than if you had never faced the difficulty. Congrats on the new job!

  3. These are wonderful!! I’m so glad you were able to gain so much from the loss. As others said, it’s very inspiring!! 🙂

  4. Heather, I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now and somehow I didn’t realize you had been let go from your dream job a couple months ago. I’m sorry about that, but I also love that your attitude is definitely positive about the whole thing. I wish you the best in your future projects. A job is just a job!
    Stockbeard recently posted…Can you retire on 1.5 million?My Profile

    • Thanks Hannah! Being unemployed in the summer time gave me so many options as far as hobbies! And there’s never any shortage of books I want to read!

  5. Pingback: What A Week! 2015-24
  6. Time out can make the world of difference to… everything! It’s just another reminder that there’s more to life than a ‘job’ and the sooner we can break the 9 – 5 shackles (debt) the sooner we can live a truly fulfilling life.

    Sometimes, it takes a poke in the eye (job loss) to reach that realisation!
    diane @smartmoneysimplelife recently posted…5 Tips for a Successful Spending FreezeMy Profile

  7. Good for you. You took the time off (even though it was unplanned time) and used it to better yourself. I’d be afraid I’d just turn into a couch potato – something I would really dislike. I’ve been at the same job for 25 years, but I wonder sometimes what life would be like if I were suddenly unemployed. I’ve got a few side gigs going that would probably turn into something more, but I don’t know if I have the discipline to work on my own. But I think I’d at least be able to keep myself afloat for a few months until I found another job. Congrats on your new job. PS: One of your ads keeps hijacking my screen. Three times as I’ve been typing this comment, it has jumped down to view a video on Pill Pockets and I have to come back to my comment. It has a pause button, but it doesn’t work, just keeps playing. Just thought you’d want to know.
    adrian recently posted…Gorgeous Fall Fashions From Jane.comMy Profile

    • What could have been a bad situation turned out to be a pretty good summer for me. I’m very grateful. I found that I REALLY liked not working and enjoying my hobbies etc, but so far I’m adjusting to a M-F schedule fine. I’ll look into what’s going on with that ad. Thanks for letting me know!

  8. When my husband finished his Master’s I stopped working at my wonderful job at my University Library, and came home to be mom full time. (Big change… but good change.) Then just a few months after that my husband had to quit the job he had started due to an abusive employer. The day he quit, the employer had grabbed him at work, my husband threw him off of him, and the guy grabbed him again!
    We were so scared. We had a 9 month old, no health insurance, and had just bought our house.
    My husband went all out on his job search. He read What Color is your Parachute, spent 8+ hours a day searching for and applying to jobs that fit his skills, and within a week he had 2 interviews. He was given 2 job offers, and went with the company he’s currently at. It was such a wonderful switch. Having no employment is so scary! We were super thankful for our savings!
    Christiana Doucette recently posted…Losing Weight on a Shoestring — Part 2My Profile

    • What a scary experience! I’m so glad you guys made it through unemployment quickly! Having savings to fall back on can really give some peace of mind.

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