On Tuesday, October 23, my former supervisor begrudgingly appeared at my office door. She’d come to deliver news that I was hoping to not hear that day, but had spent the previous week wondering if I’d hear. The company, while appreciative of my services, had decided to eliminate me and my position as a part of a restructuring. Oof.
Obviously, that news is difficult to hear and can upend your world, but I needed to decide how to confront this. The responsibilities of a family meant that wallowing in depression, sadness and self-pity would not be helpful. Also, desperately seeking and accepting any new opportunity would be detrimental long-term, and would devalue the skills, expertise and experience I’d earned during my 15+ year career to that point.
So I decided to look at this as an “Off-season” – that period of time between seasons when teams and players can take an overall view of the situation, rest and recuperate, but most importantly prepare themselves for the upcoming competition season. For me, I was a free agent and I needed to spend my time preparing myself and matching with the right new team.
While my off-season was not voluntary or planned, many professionals pass through off-seasons regardless of employment status. Perhaps you finished a major project and the next one hasn’t started yet. Maybe you’ve closed out a client and the next one isn’t quite on the horizon. Maybe your business ebbs and flows and you know you’ve got a slow period of time coming up. Those can be off-seasons, and you can make them beneficial.
As I pondered this mindset, I came across the website of professional soccer player Yael Averbuch. In one of her blog posts, she describes her approach to the off-season while she was playing for F.C. Kansas City. On the surface, these tips are for athletes. But the more I thought about what she was saying and what I was facing, her counsel made sense to me and anyone else facing an “off-season” in their life. Below are some of her suggestions and you‘ll see how you can incorporate them:
- Find experts to trust with your development
- Set your mind to succeed, and your limits will fall by the wayside
- You can always work a little harder than you think is possible, but recovery must be a part of any training plan
- Set long-range goals, but focus on the process
Honestly, I hope my “off-season” is a short one and I get back in the game as soon as possible. But in the meantime, I will be looking for ways to improve skills, make connections and recharge my batteries, with the goal of being a new team’s “top off-season acquisition.”