How To Start A New Life In A Pandemic !

By David Morley, Health & Safety Hero and Teacher

At the start of 2020 I had no idea that I would live through a global epidemic, get made redundant, find NLP, leave an industry I’ve worked in for 30 years and embark on an entirely new career. 2020 was surprising in both awful and exciting ways.

Covid Hits!

Much like a large proportion of the population Covid 19’s impact has meant that 2020 didn’t work out in the way I expected and as I moved into the latter part of the year I found myself embarking on a completely different career and in a different industry from the one I’ve spent all of my working life in. This was most definitely not what I’d planned for 2020!

To be fair, even before Covid I had been thinking about making some changes in my life. I’d worked for the same logistics business for 15 years and had grown disillusioned with the company. I managed an excellent training team and worked as part of a great safety team, led by an outstanding boss – winning awards for the business in the process. Unfortunately, the constant cost- cutting and budget restrictions made getting development for my team and almost impossible, lowering the morale of the team and leading to increasing frustration.

I had considered finding a new job a number of times, but always found myself shying away from seriously job-hunting, being too worried about paying the mortgage and having become quite risk averse. As a result, I played it safe career-wise – ‘better the devil you know’ might be a good phrase.

Redundancy Looms!

Having being put ‘at risk’, and narrowly escaping redundancy, I’d already decided that I would sell my house, down-size and eliminate my mortgage, which would give me greater scope for any job-hunt and improved security in the event of future redundancy.

When Covid hit I was furloughed and a couple of months later, in May, I was not surprised to get the dreaded redundancy call from HR. By the end of June, I had the house ready to sell, but job opportunities were scarce and I realised that the thought of getting one of the available jobs I was applying for no longer excited me; they all felt a bit like ground-hog day and were more about bringing in a wage that getting job satisfaction.

Finding NLP!

My old boss (and friend) Andrew, had completed NLP training from Florence Madden prior to joining the company. He had tried for several years to get all of us in his team on an NLP course, but was always thwarted by budget cuts. I’d kept in touch with him after the redundancy and saw a Facebook post he had shared, about some NLP taster sessions Florence was running in June. Given that I had time on my hands and having heard Andrew speak in glowing terms about Florence and
NLP, I decided to try the taster session and see what he was on about. I did not know it at the time, but this was to be a turning point in the direction of my career.

The taster session covered some of the presuppositions of NLP and I was fascinated by how some of these really resonated with me and ‘spoke’ to some of the thoughts I had rattling around in my head. I was really interested in exploring this further and was very fortunate that Florence found me a place on one of her Introducing NLP Everyday courses. When completing the pre-course questionnaire and reflecting on the taster sessions I decided that I wanted to use the NLP learning to help me be less cautious and more willing to take some risks to move my career / life forward.

Two presuppositions resonated the most as we went through them:

  • There is no failure, only feedback – I have always been fairly forgiving of failure for other people, viewing them as coachable, learning moments at work. I did however realise that I was much harsher on myself in the event of something I perceived as failure and on occasions had stewed on them for years, allowing them to change my behaviour in undesirable ways.
  • We have all the resources we need – I am a target driven person and on reflection, once I accept a target, I tend to achieve it more often than not as I don’t like not hitting them. Despite that, I still felt a fear of taking risks in my career / life. This made me think about why that was and that in reality, if I made that leap, I would find a way to make it a success as I had the skills, experience and drive to make it happen.

As far back as I can remember, I have always been quite self-depreciating and even when winning awards for the work I’d done, felt slightly embarrassed at the public displays of praise. This began to make more sense to me when we discussed the unconscious mind and the effect the language I was using could have in shaping how I was feeling / behaving. As we reflected on that language we used I came to realise that I often said things like ‘they are more intelligent / talented than me’ as that was how I had come to see things. I was discussing this with a close friend after a session and he was amazed, saying that was not how he saw me at all and was surprised I felt that way.

Moving On and Changing My Language

I realised that I needed to change some of the language I was using to enable more positive messaging to my unconscious mind. I am working hard to avoid the negative statements and ensure more constructive speech, which I feel is helping me. Whilst the sessions were running in July, my house sold, which meant that the burden of mortgage payments was lifted and I was reflecting on the things I liked in my job and the things I did not like and wanted to change. I concluded that I needed to get out of logistics and spend more time in a role that allowed me to train / teach / develop people as it was this that gave me the most satisfaction. I just needed to decide what that would be.

I’d run training sessions at work and had previously done some guest lecturing for a colleague at a local university centre and this led to discussions around completing a PGCE (teaching) qualification so I would be qualified to pursue this as a career. I used the ‘Well Formed Outcome’ process to help me think about what I wanted and what success would look/feel like when I achieved it.

In a few short weeks (or that’s how it felt) I was at a point where I’d sold my house that I have lived in for 17 years, been accepted as a full-time student on a PGCE course at university, was going to change the entire direction of my career at age 53 and was excited (and a little nervous) about the whole adventure. In September I enrolled and started the course!

I have clear targets in mind and by the end of 2021 I will have:

  • Successfully completed my PGCE and be a qualified teacher.
  • Have found a role teaching in a secondary school, or
  • Be using my experience and qualifications in combination with the PGCE to allow me to teach in other environments, or
  • Be doing something completely different, if that is what excites me.

When I went on Florence’s taster session in June, I could not have envisaged this would be how my life would progress and honestly do not feel that I’d have got to this point without the help that Florence and using NLP provided. I realise that I have barely dipped my toes into NLP and I am coming back to do more work with Florence in June 2021 when I finish my PGCE.

I do have some nerves regarding the massive career / life change I am undertaking, but my targets are clear and well formed, I am being careful about how I think about those nerves and the language I use, and if all else fails I will fall back on the knowledge that I have all the resources that I need, or perhaps take a leaf out of Amy Cuddy’s book and ‘fake it till I become it!’