I have decided that becoming an independent training and development consultant is the way for me to go at this point in my life. Nowhere was this more affirmed than at a meeting of the Independent Trainers and Consultants Networking group (a special interest group of the Atlanta ASTD) which I attended on Friday morning. There, among people my own age, I realized that I'm not the first person to find himself in my position, nor am I the only person out there who does what I do as a contract worker. I made contact with a number of people there who specialize in placing contract instructors, as well as a few people who have intermittent needs for someone to do some live facilitation, and I'm going to get into all of their loops. I also learned that there are more than a few instructors who do technical work, so I don't have to turn my back on the technical side of my life as I had once thought. In fact, one of the trends in training and development is e-learning, which requires a certain amount of technical acumen to use and to troubleshoot.
I've also learned that I have a lot to learn, and a lot of different avenues to explore. But, I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be an interesting period in my life.
I have to admit to feeling a little overwhelmed by everything on Friday afternoon. After my meeting, I had some official business cards printed (they'll be ready next week) and picked up my new suit and a couple of shirts and ties (which cost more than the suit), got home and fell into a chair, and didn't want to move. I have to admit that I'm a little anxious about this whole thing. It's something that I'm doing scared; I've never been without a big company to pay some of the bills for me (health care being the big one), nor have I been without a regular paycheck in some time. I worry constantly that I'm not going to find work for myself, and that I'll end up working at the Publix or something just to pay the mortgage and feed myself. Then I realize that it's a risk that I have to take. The state of corporate jobs, particularly for someone over 45, really sucks, and there's no real security in putting my trust in someone else's ability to run a business. I've learned my lesson: the only person that I can trust is myself. The work is out there, but it's not going to just land in my lap (like my last assignment with my old company did). I'm going to have to go after it with a knife.
I have people in my life now who are supportive, who are where I'm at in life, and who understand and can help me, and I have the ability to do the same for them. For the first time in a while, I don't feel alone anymore.
And, listen, I know a lot of you have been keeping me in your thoughts and praying to whatever God you believe in for me during this period of time, and I want you to know that I appreciate it and am doing the same for you. I know that a lot of you are going through stuff, and I'm keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks!