Finding happiness after redundancy: Louisa’s story

Thirty-six-year-old Louisa from Derby is one of the thousands of people around the UK who suffered job loss as a result of the economic devastation caused by Covid-19. For Louisa, finding happiness after redundancy seemed unlikely at first, but things eventually turned around. We spoke to her to find out all about her journey, and how she moved on to bigger and better things.

“I was furloughed back in March 2020, and then essentially waited (and worried) as I listened to the horror stories in the media. My partner was made redundant towards the end of June, so we were both very worried, but then I lost my job only one week later. I was in shock for a while, it was a real knock to my confidence.”

Despite her worry, Lousia felt ready for a change. She’d been in various marketing roles for over twelve years and was finding the industry unfulfilling. Her role as a retail marketing manager for a large national company involved constant travel that left her with no work-life balance and missing her family. “I had a lot of time on my hands and I used this to re-evaluate where I was at in my career. I asked myself 'what do I actually want from this life?' and 'am I happy continuing on this path?' I felt enormous guilt for being away from home so often for work; I have a young family and missed them so much that I often found myself in tears in a random hotel room.  When I found out that work was having to cut back staff and I was going to lose my job, I was already thinking about making a change. I knew I didn’t want to go back into marketing, I was done with that, done with travelling all over the country and working in a job that didn’t excite me,” she explained.

Time for a change

With more time on her hands, Louisa tried to see the positives in her situation, and think about how she might find happiness after redundancy: “Lockdown was hard, but in some ways, it was a joyful time for me. I started running for the first time in my life, I was going on long walks with my kids around the countryside, and just enjoying time for myself. It was a time I could focus on starting a new chapter in my life, one that would make me happier. Once the shock of redundancy was over, I realised I felt relief. I finally had the excuse I needed to go ahead and forge a new career in something I’d always wanted to do - beauty. I think one of the reasons I felt so unsettled before was because I had zero control over my job.

So, I decided I would start my own business.  Without hesitating, I signed up for several beauty courses and started my training at the beginning of August. I’d always had an interest in beauty, but I was also attracted to the industry because of the social interaction, and the opportunity to connect with others and make them feel good. I think that’s a rewarding part of the job because it’s giving back to the community. Plus, I liked the idea of working with my hands and being creative.”

With a plan to set up her own business, Louisa needed to get herself qualified. She invested all her redundancy money into training days, courses, and beauty equipment to open her own salon in her garage: “I wanted to call the shots," Louisa said, “so I dived head-first into the whole project, starting with getting qualified and then converting my garage into a home-salon with the help of my partner. I’m proud to have gained ten certified qualifications in just two months, qualifying me to provide many treatments such as microblading, manicures and pedicuresspray tanningacrylic nail extensions, eyelash extensions, and more.

Learning is so important, whether you’re looking to change career like me, or simply develop areas of your current role, it’s such a powerful tool, and you're never too old to do it. If you're struggling to find happiness after redundancy, I'd highly recommend studying a course in something you love, even if it's just simply to take your mind off things. The satisfaction and the pride you feel once you're finished and you receive a certificate makes all the hard work worth it. The next course I’ve decided to take is a first aid course because it's such an important qualification to have under your belt, whether you're a business owner or employee.”

Onwards and upwards

When it comes to starting up a business, Lousia used all her previous experience and knowledge to propel her forwards with the salon: “I’m not saying it was easy, but my prior experience with project management did help with the build and interior design, and then also with the brand development; I designed my own logo and have priced myself mid-range so there is scope to change if I need to. Now, I just really want to get started with marketing. I already have clients based on word of mouth and I’ve been practising on family, friends, and neighbours, it’s been lovely”, she said.

But how did she manage all of this without letting the stress of a new venture, fear of failure, and the knock-back of redundancy get her down? Louisa set herself a new routine, one that aligned with her wellbeing as well as her vision. She explains, “Creating routine during a time when there was no structure to my day was helpful. I made sure that I found time for exercise and my family in between the courses and salon build, so I went to the gym early - four times a week - which got me motivated for the day and still does. I can't recommend exercise enough if you're struggling to find happiness after redundancy, it's such a great way to de-stress. Then most evenings, I go for a walk with my family and it's having that quality time together that reminds me I’m on the right path.”

Despite the pandemic bringing its own set of risks, Louisa was prepared to take the leap into something new. She said, "Obviously, setting up a business during these times is daunting, but when you fully prepare for any obstacles, nothing can stop you really, even if there are bumps in the road. I just made sure to take the relevant courses for Covid safety in the beauty industry and followed all the PPE requirements, so that my brand-new salon is Covid secure. And trust me, there were days when I was exhausted and wondered if I’d made the right choice, but when I look back, I realised that I had no purpose before, but now I’m much happier. It feels like my redundancy happened for a reason, because I love what I do now, and the days go so fast; redundancy just gave me that time to turn things around and plan my whole business out properly.

My future goal is to have a new salon in five years' time with an employed team of people after moving out of the garage, which is only a temporary thing. I also want to become an aesthetic injector, administering dermal fillers and botox, which takes more professional training. I already know the training needed as a non-medic, and I’m hoping to be qualified to practice these treatments within a year as I know they are more valuable to my business.”

Dealing with redundancy 

We asked Louisa what advice she has for other people struggling to find happiness after redundancy, and she gave some valuable tips and words of encouragement: “I know it's hard, but please try and see past that awful word 'redundant.' You are not redundant - you haven't done anything wrong and it isn't a reflection on you, it's simply a sign of the tough times we are currently in. Try and focus on what you want from life. Ask yourself if you were honestly 100% happy in your role before. I'd recommend signing up for a course that genuinely interests you, as any form of learning during this time will undoubtedly give you some focus (away from feeling lost and uncertain), as well as a real sense of achievement!

Lastly, you need to establish a new routine as quickly as possible because it's easy to lose motivation when you lose your job. Of course, you can allow yourself time to wallow, but not for too long, or you will find yourself in a funk. Listen to your own body. Get up at the time you would normally be up for work - go for a walk, work on yourself. If you're as regimented as me, you might even pencil in a time to speak to a friend or meet up for a coffee! Daft as it sounds, I liked having a full calendar, even if none of it contained work-related tasks or meetings! Give yourself things to look forward to each week, whether it be a day out in the countryside, a good film night, or just cooking a tasty meal. Honestly, things will get better. This is your life, and there is so much to look forward to.”

Now, Louisa is ready to open her salon to the public. She’s grateful for the journey she’s been on and glad to see all her hard work pay off. “Looking back over the year, I’ve been through a lot but come out the other side stronger and happier. My partner found a more rewarding role with a great employer in only two weeks, so it really did work out for the best. What we went through gave me the strength to give this new career path my all. I don't ever want to feel so out of control again now that my work and life balance is in my own hands.”

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