My Global Career: Part 8

This is the final installment in my global career series! Click here for part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4part 5, part 6, and part 7.

I often say that getting laid off was the best thing to happen to me. Really!

Just as I was planning when to give my notice, our third round of layoffs came around. So when I was told that our department was being eliminated, I was surprised, but I wasn’t upset.

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I was sad that my awesome team was breaking up and that I wouldn’t get to see my colleagues on a daily basis, but I was thrilled to leave other less-than-positive aspects of my job behind and finally start the business I’d been dreaming about for so long.

That said, getting laid off isn’t easy. Even when you’re happy to move on it’s a shock, and it took me a few months to feel like myself again. Fortunately, I had projects and clients already lined up and I moved full steam ahead on building my business…

…Until late October when I got a call from my brother in the middle of the night telling me that my beloved grandmother had unexpectedly passed away.

I was devastated. My grandmother was like a second mom, the sister I never had, and a best friend rolled into one. We were super close. As soon as I got the call, I put everything on hold and flew home to Oregon immediately.

Losing my grandmother took the wind out of my sails, and that autumn I struggled for weeks to find any passion for my work. The entire year had been tough after losing my father-in-law, my job, and then one the most important people in my life. I was exhausted, and progress on my business ground to a halt.

My husband and I ended the year with a 3-week anniversary trip to Ireland over Christmas and New Year’s. We weren’t sure we should even go on the trip but we’d been planning it for months. Turns out, travel was exactly what we needed to process everything that had happened that year, reconnect with each other, and just plain old have some fun. (Ireland in December was wonderful, by the way!)

When we returned home I dove into the international education consulting and teaching I’d lined up. I primarily worked with two organizations – one local and one international – and I took on smaller projects here and there. I also experimented a lot with SPS. (Did you know that I started out providing online professional development workshops for interculturalists before focusing on re-entry?)

I LOVED the consulting and teaching work I was doing. I loved the freedom and flexibility I had. I loved that I worked on campus with college students, solo from home, and with clients abroad. I loved that I could take a month off in the summer. And I loved the people I worked with.

It felt like I was doing the work I’d always wanted to do, and living the way I’d always wanted to live. And I was using the knowledge and skills I’d been honing over the years in grad school, as a teacher and trainer, as a researcher, and program developer.

There were some downsides – my income was inconsistent month to month, I had to pay for my own benefits, and sometimes I didn’t know how much work I’d have three months down the road. But for me, the positives far outweighed the negatives.

Two years ago I reduced my university work and increased my international education consulting work. As part of that consulting work I got to travel to Australia, the UK, the Netherlands, and around the US. That was, of course, awesome. I knew that consulting work wouldn’t last forever, and so as that work decreased (as the project wrapped up) I decided to finally focus more on SPS.

I’d been experimenting with and researching building an online business for a couple years but hadn’t made SPS my primary focus for two reasons. First, I absolutely loved the teaching and consulting work I was doing and didn’t want to give it up! (I also liked the income I was getting, to be honest.) Second, I didn’t want my primary focus to be SPS until I knew where I wanted to take that part of my business.

When I decided where I wanted to take SPS I created a path to get there…and that’s exactly where I am today. These days I still work with my two main clients, just less than I did a few years ago. That said, SPS is my main focus now.

What will I be doing five years from now? Two years from now? Next year?

Who knows! And that’s just the way I like it.

About the Author: Cate Brubaker

Cate Brubaker, PhD is the author of the Re-Entry Roadmap creative workbook and founder of SmallPlanetStudio.com. A former expat and current part-time nomad, Cate has worked in international education for 20 years.

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