This time next week I will be unemployed, or workless as our politicians like to say. It’ll be the second time this year I have left a job and both times I was glad to do so. The first time was redundancy after several years in the same place, some good, some bad, so I left with mixed feelings. It felt very much like a divorce. The job I’ve been doing for the last six months was only ever supposed to be temporary. It feels like the rebound relationship that you know all along is not going to last.
The next step is to find out what I really want to do with the rest of my life. That’s where the relationship analogy breaks down, because I don’t want another job. My plan was always to work for myself and although it scares me more now (because I’ve had more time to think about it), I realise I have to make that happen. Partly because I now know that it would be very difficult to get another job even if I wanted one.
Staying with the same company for several years meant I’d been a bit cocooned. I’d heard about people over 50 being thrown on the scrapheap but it was one of those things that happened to other people. As long as there was someone in the company older than me (and I think it was just one) that didn’t scare me.
I’d heard from other people, only a bit older than myself, about the knockbacks you can expect at a certain age. I didn’t think it would happen to me. Recently, it has.
Only yesterday I read two things that made me stop and think. First, a throwaway remark in a book review that women in their fifties earn less than women in their thirties. It took me years to work up to what felt to me like a decent salary. Is it downhill again after all that work?
Then, an article about workplace trends that talked about ‘millennials’ taking over from ‘boomers’. ‘And it’s about time’ they added. Bastards.
I’ve seen jobs advertised that I know I could do well, but I know that former colleagues I’ve trained and mentored could also do well. Those women are second-jobbers now and those jobs will go to people like them, not to people like me. They’ve already got the skills that I took years to acquire (and yes, I’ll concede that it is because they are ‘digital natives’). I could still bring more to the job than them because I have wisdom and experience – but when did you ever see ‘wisdom’ on a job description?
So, I will make that first sentence a lie. I’ll rely on my wisdom to take the right path. I won’t be unemployed. I’ll be self-employed.
Wish me luck.