At some point in life, we should all have a reason to change directions. Actually, we all have reasons to change our lives at some point in time. For me, it took a suspension from work for two weeks to realize that.
When the suspension letter was given to me that day, I was very angry. I wasn’t angry for the suspension, no! I was angry because they were right to have suspended me. I should have known better but I let my guard down and felt nobody could notice it and take advantage of it.
The reason was weak but they had the rules and decided to apply it the way they feel it serves their purpose. I was going home for two weeks without salary. I knew something had to change in the two weeks that I was going to be idle.
Something had to change. I didn’t know what that was. But deep within me, as I sat in a car going home that day, I knew I had to change something before the weekend. Clearly, my mind was bleak. I couldn’t choose what it is to change because I didn’t know where and how to start the change.
But I did change something. And I will tell you what it is that I changed. But before that, let me tell you what I did;
#1st Day; I Did Nothing
When my alarm went off at 04:00, I looked at my phone and said; “dear smartphone, you were with me when I was told I’ve been suspended. As smart as you are, you shouldn’t have tried waking me up because you should know I have nowhere to go.” Then I went back to sleep.
I was happy I had nothing to do on a Monday. For once, I had no reason to hate on Mondays. I cooked some food I was not able to eat because it turned out so bad. My cooking game has been rusty. I haven’t cooked anything for years.
I watched movies, played my favorite songs so loud as if I was having a party. I practiced my dancing moves and boy it was still so bad. Anything–I did a whole lot of things to get my mind off the fact that I’m going to be unemployed for two weeks.
I had time to be quiet and assess what was wrong—what has gone wrong in my life over the years that I’ve used work as an excuse not to fix it. By the night, I had a plan! I had a plan to change something and make the coming days worthwhile.
When things are going wrong in your life, that is not the time to act. That is not the time to try to change things—to try to turn things around immediately.
It’s time to be still. It’s time to be calm. It is only through stillness and calm that we get a perfect picture of what is wrong. When we try to act when our hearts are troubled, we get things wrong. We become emotional and rather make bad situations worse. Learn to be calm when all around you is falling apart.
#2nd Day; I Reconnected with a friend I haven’t seen for over 5 years
When he saw my call he couldn’t believe I was the one calling. He was thrilled because it’s been over 5 years since we said hello to each other. It’s been over 8 years since we actually saw each other in person. When I told him I’m free to meet him the next day, he was so willing and ready to meet me too.
We met over a lunch and talked about our past days together and even had time to reminisce on the past relationships we thought was going to end up in marriage. He confessed he didn’t like a certain lady I was dating then because he knew the girl was cheating on me. That is the past now.
When we spoke about our current lives, I was amazed how well my friend was doing. He’d been able to run his own company for the past 8 years and doing so well at it now. He told me how he did it and I learned. He spoke of how he started his company, his struggles and how he finally broke through and even the future of his company.
I knew that was what I was missing. I told him I was going to resign and start doing something on my own. But he said; “That’s going to be the most stupid thing to do now. You can’t let go of a monthly salary and walk into the unknown area of starting your own company. A step at a time. Start with a side job. When your side job is able to pay your monthly salary and you have about 6 months’ salary saved somewhere, you can then resign.”
I took that as the glorious point of our meeting. We all have those friends who are doing better than us—who have been able to start from the bottom and now they are up there. Let go of the pride and consult them. Ask them how they did it. They will tell you if they are wise.
#3rd Day; I read a book on how to sell
Everybody sells something. It’s either you’re going around hawking a product or you’re in an organization selling your services to them. Some of us are in a position where we have to sell ideas to people all the time. Our livelihood depends on whether or not our ideas are bought and paid for. So I take it as, no matter who you are, you’ll have to sell something at some point in life.
To be able to sell well, you should learn the ways and means of getting people to buy what you sell. I, therefore, begun reading articles and books on how to sell. I spent most days surfing the web looking for top books on marketing. I came across a lot of them and read many.
Harry Beckwith’s books on marketing made a lot of interesting reads. I first read “Unthinking; The Surprising Forces Behind What We Buy.” I fell in love with the book and later read another two books of Harry’s. “You, Inc.; The Art of Selling Yourself” and “Selling The Invisible; The Field Guide to Modern Marketing.” These are books I would recommend to people who want to sell something.
To sell is an art everyone has to master. It’s not easy making someone part with his hard earned money. It’s not easy making someone change their mind to believe in a product you want to sell to them because you want their money. But it becomes easier when you learn to feed on people’s fears by making them believe they are in hell. It’s only when they buy what you have that their lives would transition into a beautiful paradise with a forever rainbow in their horizons.
#4th Day; I Picked 5 Companies and wrote down 10 ways I can help them solve a problem.
In today’s world, what everybody is looking for are solutions. They don’t care about who you are and what you want to sell or what you want to offer them. What they care about are solutions to the problems they are facing. They would only listen to you if what you say can help solve a problem.
So this is what I did. I picked 5 companies in the same industry and wrote solutions for the injuries their employees sustain during working activities. I’m an occupational health and safety professional so it’s easier for me to come up with solutions looking at the operational procedures of such companies. I made sure I picked companies I knew their operation procedures very well.
Many ideas came to mind so I wrote them all. I had about hundreds of things those companies could do to avoid injuries to workers and also save their reputation whiles at it. I worked on those ideas and reduced it to 10 kick ass solutions. I did a power point presentation just in case they ask me to do a presentation. I left nothing to chance.
Confidence is key here. To be confident, you have to prepare in all aspect of what you seek to offer so they don’t catch you off-guard. I practice how to present my solutions and how to sound persuasive enough to have them believe me. Then gave myself the opportunity to ask myself questions that are likely to be asked of me.
#5th Day; I Met those 5 companies and gave them my solutions
My fears were these; What if they refuse to give me a hearing? What if they don’t find my solutions worthy of their time? What if they already have what I’m offering? What if they find me very stupid? What if….
Trust me, when I went around to meet these selected companies, all my fears came to pass. At some point, they didn’t have to find me stupid–I felt very stupid. But the point is this, I wasn’t trying to be successful at the first time of trying, no! I was only trying to do! I used that as an opportunity to try something new. Something I wouldn’t do if I was at work.
I also felt it was an opportunity to put to practice some of the things I learned from the marketing books I read. The whole thing was a ‘doing’ exercise. I’ve thought about so many things I wanted to do but didn’t do them. There have been so many instances I had a great idea but didn’t act on it. This one was an opportunity for me to learn how to act. It was an opportunity for me to learn to do—to learn to leave my comfort zone and be a doer of things.
So when some of the companies didn’t accept what I thought was a solution, I didn’t feel like a loser. I rather thought; “Why 5 when there are several of these companies doing the same jobs?” So I widened the net and spoke to a lot of such companies. A few days later, many of them called back to ask me for elaborations. Many also called to ask about prices. I ended up offering my solutions to few of them for an amount worth 2 months of my salary.
The gatekeepers are lying. They would do everything to stop you from going in. But if you have a lot of gates to enter from, then you have a choice as to which gatekeeper to deal with. When you increase the number of gatekeepers, you increase your chances of going in from behind. Don’t speak to only one. When they say no to you, you are doomed. Speak to many, at least one will come from the many to say yes to you.
#6th Day; Did one thing I’ve always been scared to do
I’ve always been shy to talk to people. Especially the first meeting, you might think I’m some kind of monk on a meditation. I hardly would say a word. But I decided to do something that freaks me out anytime I think of it. I decided to develop a free will to talk to anyone. Just anyone at all.
Going round to talk to companies was one of the ways I used to get over the fear of talking to random people. At one company that I visited, the secretary would not allow me to see the director unless I book an appointment. She said; “you have to book an appointment then we will give you a call when he’s ready to meet you” Then I asked; “how many days will that take?” then she said; “sometimes 2 days. Sometimes we’ll not call you at all. That’s when the director has decided not to meet you.”
Then I asked; “What if there’s an impending accident that I’m aware of and want to communicate it to him so you prevent it, in this case, how long will it take before you call me?” She looked at me and asked, “where do you come from?” “Where I come from, we prevent an accident before it happens,” I said coyly.
She left me. 30 minutes later, she called to tell me the director wants to see me. That was when I realized I’ve gotten somewhere with my learning-to-talk-to-random people.
Those good things you’ve been afraid to do are usually the things that are capable of changing your life. But you won’t do it because you are scared. The “what ifs” surrounding the required actions are so negative that it takes your breath away. At some point you have to ask; “Do I really want to change my life or it’s ok the way I am?” If the answer is “yes” to the former, then forget the what ifs and act. Just Do It!
#7th Day: I Gave myself some love
All too soon it’s been a week into my suspension and I’ve been tired running around so I thought of giving myself some love. In the morning, I ran on the treadmill as I’ve done consistently over the week. I went to the mall, got myself some meal I’ve never tasted before and sat down eating as I watched beautiful women passed by.
I went to the movies and sat by a beautiful lady who wouldn’t talk to me because she was crying throughout the movie—some women and crazy sentimentalism. Even small romance in a horror movie is enough to make them cry.
I’m the one who was angry when I got suspended. I’m the same person walking around to do the awkward thing like talking to people I wouldn’t talk to if in my comfort zone. I’m the one here today, not depressed or sad because I got suspended from work without pay.
I thought my body deserves some love. It’s the same body I’ve gone through all the changes with. So if someone deserves to be loved, then here he is.
Forever we are trapped in this bag of bones and flesh called the body. There is no way out until we die or take the early shower of murdering ourselves in a cold suicide. That is the more reason why we ought to love this skin and treat it right, not some days but all days. Keep this body in shape to avoid break down. It’s going to be with you all the way.
For the next 7 days that I had to stay home, I repeated these 7 steps in each of the days. Each day I became a better person who could afford a smile and deserve a bar of chocolate for all the effort. I made new friends who call me to share ideas with. I was able to make a change in the working process of the companies that gave me the chance to. They too are my friends. I think they like me.
In the end, this is what I changed; starting the journey I didn’t know what it is that I needed to change. I felt I had to change something. I had the urge to change the direction that this boat I call “my life” is going. I was the captain but I didn’t know if turning left or right could bring the change I so needed. It was only when I remained still and calm in the middle of chaos—in the eye of the storm that I realized I needed to change my life.
Tomorrow I would return to work. Suspension period is over. I would go back into that small room with an air conditioner that never stops making me comfortable. Two weeks ago, I had the whole universe as my office. I decided where to sit and work.
I worked from a coffee shop so I could fill my heart with the fragrance from the best coffee drinks out there. I worked from a photo studio where everybody that came around wanted to be nothing but beautiful. I worked from a pizza shop where I took delight in watching beautiful waitresses wearing skirts so short it could make the righteous fall.
I’m giving it all up so I can return to work again—I guess it wouldn’t be too long before I return to those little pleasures again. Who wouldn’t like to work for themselves?
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