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Routes out of redundancy: why losing your job can help you find the right career path. By Graeme Leslie, Designtastic

It’s a difficult time for many people right now for one reason or another. We are increasingly seeing stark headlines about the state of the economy, and that translates into redundancies. How many of us know of someone who has lost their job recently?

No-one in that position wants a flippant reassurance that everything will be fine – that’s certainly not my aim in writing this. However, I know from personal experience that I drew comfort from hearing about the success of others that came from a challenging situation. I can very much relate to how people facing redundancy are feeling right now because I’ve been there.

I was made redundant in early 2016, during the last oil and gas downturn. I had lost my dad the previous year, and the combination of these two seismic life events really shook me. I needed to grieve both for the loss of my father, and for the loss of my job but with adult responsibilities weighing heavy on me.

Seek support if redundancy has impacted your mental health

I was in a very dark place. Suffering really badly from depression, I felt completely paralysed – I just couldn’t do anything. At the time I wasn’t even sure I wanted to stay in the graphic design game. This was compounded by feeling like I was letting my family down.

It was during this period that my boss (and my now business partner), Fiona Sands, started looking into the possibility of pooling our talents and setting up our own business. She very much kept my spirits up and gave me something positive to focus on. It wasn’t easy by any means. I vividly remember sitting with Fiona in Starbucks having one of many business start-up chats and not being able to focus on anything or provide much input at all to be honest. But somehow, Fiona made me realise that I had the strength to do it – she sees things in me that I don’t always see in myself. My wife was a huge support too – she essentially marched me to the doctor to get some help. Between the two of them, they helped me to get through a very bleak period indeed.

I was fortunate to have a bit of time between losing my job and starting the new business, and I appreciate this is a luxury that some people don’t have. It was during this period that I spent a lot of time online – I have vivid memories of scouring the internet, desperately trying to find others who had been made redundant, just so it felt like it wasn’t just me. Strangely, drawing comfort from seeing what other people were doing, and how they had turned losing their job into a success story was a huge support. It helped me to realise that neither my team nor myself was alone in being made redundant, and that it wasn’t the end of the world. Many of them were starting up new businesses. I still didn’t have the confidence to do this myself though, and I certainly would not have done it had it not been for Fiona helping me through the process.

Grasp the opportunity to become your own boss

Despite what I went though, I look back and now consider that losing my job was the best thing that could have happened. It made me take a leap of faith and set up my own business, something that has completely transformed my working life! There’s nothing like being in command of your own day, in control of your own destiny, and not just being a line in a spreadsheet! I also find that, as your own boss you can establish much better relationships with clients which is something both Fiona and I are always striving for. It’s a lot of hard work and certainly has challenges of its own but in all honesty, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else now.

If you are facing a redundancy or have recently lost your job, perhaps think about where your true passion lies. It may be that you can draw on that to formulate your next business idea and perhaps follow that long-cherished dream of becoming your own boss. That might seem like a huge leap at the moment, but it’s worth reminding yourself that you lost your job through no fault of your own, and that you held that position because of your skills and strengths. So now it’s up to you to use all of those talents to your advantage. It’s also worth keeping in touch with your contacts – that network will play a huge role in your future success. You can, and you will regain your confidence and your focus.

Oh, and my final piece of advice is to find your own Fiona! Someone to motivate you, make you believe in yourself again, and generally give you a much-needed kick up the backside! The success you have in life is very much down to the people you surround yourself with.

I wish you the very best of luck in your future. As impossible as it may seem right this minute, have faith – I did.