Forty-two months ago I assumed that I was "finished" professionally. My communications boutique had not adequately bounced back from the global downturn. When I looked around I saw a sea of young faces in the front lines and backstage in my field.
That wasn't the first time that sinking sensation of The End took over. I have been fortunate: In my early 20s my whole career plan to be a college teacher of linguistics and literature blew up. The academic market in the Humanities had collapsed.
Over-educated, with no recent non-academic job history I was going to struggle to find a way to make a good living. Eventually I did. What I had learned from that I have leveraged into my next several comebacks.
The most important lesson is: Listen. That extends from hearing out those who can help us (especially if we disagree with them) to picking up all the signals in the marketplace. From the latter, in my most recent comeback, I recognized that I was in two glut niches. They were social media and journalism. Sure, I could chase some assignments there. But essentially I had to identify less crowded areas, particularly those in which age might even be a plus.
I returned to Executive Communications, that is, ghostwriting and speechwriting. That wasn't easy. Too many of my contacts had retired, gotten fired, or themselves changed direction. My portfolio of samples had to be beefed up. And, hardest of all, I had to re-learn to sell into an upscale market.
I took that one step at a time. Only Baby Steps work, I had found through all the comebacks.
To keep the wolf from the door, now and than I did crazy jobs. The worst was in a call center for a flower delivery service for Valentine's Day. But, it gave my professional confidence a boost that they wanted me back for Mother's Day.
To feel good about myself I invested in a new car. That opened the world. On weekends I drove the hour to the Atlantic Ocean, right across the Connecticut border. Soon, a rescue dog was my traveling companion. Adopting Lee represented to me my optimism in my ability to resume a middle-class (or better) lifestyle. I hadn't had a canine animal companion since before the downturn.
Money talks. The tellers in the bank treated me much better as the larger and larger checks got deposited.
After thousands of baby steps, I had the confidence to take a giant one. After 18 months of researching lower-cost locations for my business, I moved from the Northeast to the Southwest. There my boutique really took off. My hunch is the reason why has been because without severe money pressures, I am selling more effectively Anxiety throws off our game.
I am back in demand. I have financial security. I trust my instincts about what business to pursue and what not to. I even have time to attend weighty lectures such as about what Henry VIII was really up to.