Redundant. Full Stop. New Chapter.

Don’t you love it when someone says something that gives you a different perspective on an issue? It’s like they’ve taken your swivel chair and turned you around by 90 or 180 degrees so that you can see it from another angle entirely.

That’s what happened when I was chatting with a fascinating, artistic woman this week and she gave me her view on redundancy. This is what she told me: “Many people experience some form of redundancy in their lives. Say for example, you get sick and you can’t go to work, that could make you feel redundant.”

It took me by surprise because I’ve been preoccupied, for obvious reasons, with thinking about it as the loss of paid employment through retrenchment.

This woman had never lost her role in that sense, but she understood what it felt like to be made redundant. She had been virtually a full-time carer for her elderly father and she explained that when he died, she experienced feelings of redundancy. No longer being needed for that role.

It reminded me of something I have heard mothers (and a father, come to think of it) say after their children have all grown up and left home. They felt like they had lost a precious role. They were no longer needed in the same way.

When I found out my role had been made redundant, the closest analogy I could get to the feelings I experienced was that it felt like a relationship break-up. In my case, it was the end of a wonderful seven-year relationship with the one company. Like some relationship endings, there had been no sign that this was coming.

You can imagine that it’s not much different to your significant other tapping you on the shoulder one day and saying: ‘we need to talk.’ This might be followed with ‘it’s not you, it’s me/the company’ and words to the effect that ‘I’ve changed and I don’t see a place for you in my life/organization structure anymore.’ End of story, no possibility of reconciliation.

I don’t say that to be flippant. It wasn’t funny at all. It was devastating. Because it felt so shocking and surreal, perhaps it’s natural to try to understand it by relating it to something that is within your experience?

When I updated my doctor on my job news during an unrelated visit last week, he drew another connection – to retirement, which may also bring feelings of redundancy. The doctor mentioned that it’s not uncommon for people who retire to experience declining health within the first couple of years. Apparently it’s linked to a human need to keep busy and have a sense of purpose.

Obviously finding a new job is an important part of my purpose this year, but first I want to take some time out. I’ve never taken long service leave and I already had a couple of bits of travel booked this year.

In fact, my New Year’s resolution was: “to have a year of creativity, fitness, travel and giving something back to the community.” Be careful what you wish for… or in my case, be grateful when you are given the time and opportunity to go out and get it! Yes, I do pinch myself.

So part of my purpose is to take the next few months, do some travel and see where life takes me, work out what I want to do next, and share what I learn along the way. That should keep me busy!


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