The long-term job—a blessing and a curse

Who knew that my long-term job could be both a blessing and a curse? I never even imagined I would be the type to have a long-term job.

Seriously. It didn’t seem like something that would have my name on it.

I landed my first professional job in 1989. I remember it well. I was fresh out of grad school and ready to move to the big city of Toronto and start my grown-up life. I got the job the old-fashioned way too…from an ad in the newspaper.

I packed up my 1980 Honda Prelude (with sunroof) with all of my worldly possessions and my ornery orange Tabby cat, Hundleby, named after my uniquely humorous stats professor, Professor John Hundleby at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

I was fortunate to have friends with a horse trailer too, so my furniture was packed in there, on top of a soft base of hay. And away we went, off to Toronto to start my new life.

The job I was going to was a one-year contract with a health unit as a Tobacco Use Prevention Health Educator. This was the first of four contract positions I would come to have.  I never thought about a contract job being less than ideal until one of my employees at the third contract position started talking about how thankful she was that she finally landed a full time, permanent job.

Interesting. I guess because I was only in my mid-20s, I didn’t fully appreciate why a permanent position was so desirable.

Two jobs later, my fifth professional position, was in fact, full-time and permanent. Like my other positions, I got it out the newspaper. This just before it was common for you to have easy access to the internet and a computer on your desk.  Job hunting was a little different in 1994.

It was then that I think I finally understood why permanent jobs were a big deal. I definitely started to feel a different sense of relief and security. I had also just gotten engaged. Having a permanent job felt like a great fit for this time in my life.

My kids came quickly… three babies in three and a half years. I was thankful to have a permanent job with benefits for three maternity leaves, that’s for sure.

Fast forward a few more years. My babies grew into adolescents and the braces soon followed. Again, thankful to have the wonderful benefits package that accompanied my permanent position.

However, something started to shift about the 14th or 15th year into this job. Yes, you read that correctly….I had been there well over a decade.

I think it was a combination of dealing with some large and difficult life events, combined with perimenopause.

We experienced a huge house flood to the tune of $40,000 damage (thanks Hurricane Katrina), my best friend’s sister died leaving her to care for her six-year old niece (which brought up all kinds of things related to my own mother’s death when I was five-years old) and we moved to another house ourselves.

I started to feel different than I had ever before. I wondered if it was depression. I didn’t think it really was, but I couldn’t figure out why I felt like I did.

I saw my doctor about it and she suggested that it wasn’t depression, but rather, stress. I needed some time off and with her support, was granted a year off unpaid leave.

The leave from work was just what the doctor ordered.

I needed to regroup and slow down. I used the time to reduce the chaos in my life and get back to basics. I didn’t “do lunch” with my girlfriends or take on any large projects during that year off. I just reduced my life to pure simplicity.

I started to feel better, but also started to question how content I was at my job. I didn’t want to go back. Several reorganizations at work resulted in several job description changes for me. In fact, my job started to look extremely different from the one I accepted way back in 1989.

I started to explore my options. I looked at different courses and careers online. I spoke to a couple people about courses I could take. I wondered how I could capitalize and leverage my education, degrees and experience.

I knew I needed a change but was so fearful. I wasn’t able to clue into what I really, really wanted. I also determined the things I valued the most were the creativity and flexibility of my job, as well as the benefits package. I thought that it was just too self-indulgent to leave a job that was “good” but not a great fit for me anymore.

So I felt stuck. I had a relatively flexible, permanent part-time job with benefits, including five weeks paid vacation. It certainly looked perfect on paper.

But I wasn’t content.

Then I got laid off. So much for permanence and security!

But the bottom line was that for me, my long-term, permanent job was both a blessing and a curse. It provided me with what I needed during the majority of the time I held the position. But, it was definitely a curse too because I felt so fearful and insecure about leaving; I felt uncertain about who I was and what I really, really wanted. I had forgotten how to dream.

This experience has been invaluable for me. I’m completely fascinated by why I didn’t choose to leave my job myself. My feelings of “fear” were related to my thinking, rather than the job itself.  It was my thinking about my job that created my problem.

Separating facts from thoughts is the first thing when you’re my life coach client. This sounds simple but it’s usually difficult.  We want to believe that the circumstance is the problem, rather than our thoughts about the circumstance.

As a midlife coach, long-term employment is a common issue that clients want to talk about. I totally get it!

That’s why I I came up with the 10 surprisingly simple ways to bust out of your midlife funk.  It’s my free download to help nurture your ability to dream again so you can make your midlife more intentional and GET GOING!

Life is just too short to waste time feeling stuck.  Let me help you get going and tap into what makes you get excited for your next decade or two! Click here to download your copy today:





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