After 37 years…
Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, said: “When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
My friend, Barb Richards, (seen below) was the program director of WAJI in Ft. Wayne, Indiana for all of its greatest years, and it was a great radio station because of her belief in real community involvement and local service.
When she decided it was time for her to find a new direction in her professional life, I asked if she would share this very personal story with all of us, because I know so many face the same issue right now. Thankfully, she agreed to do so:
On Monday, June 24th, I started a new job, that wasn’t inside a radio station — for the first time in 37 years. It was the first time I’ve started any new job with a new company in almost 29 years. Egads! What am I doing?
Things I learned as I made my transition OUT of radio:
- Be patient. This decision takes time. You will go back and forth in your mind. You will play out a million scenarios. What really made me know it was time is that I was just so unenthusiastic about my job. I have loved my radio job. I have always gushed about my gig. But it became a beat down for me. I felt I was fighting for everything to just exist. What had worked for me for 25+ years was no longer good, needed, or wanted. The proverbial brick wall had a dent from my head pounding it. It was not a good environment for me. I couldn’t change the environment, so I changed me.
- Hire a life coach/mentor to help guide you. I had a good friend who I regularly met with to help keep me on track. We could talk about new challenges, work environments, what I wanted to do and what I could do as a second career. Mostly though, he kept my confidence level strong. He thought I was wonderful and offered such winning qualities and encouragement: of course there would be someone who would want me to work for them! Duh! He was invaluable to me.
- Make a plan. Make a plan when things are calm, not when you are frustrated or angry. If you have a plan, or options, as my sisters likes to call them, there is less panic. And panic is what causes poor decisions to be made.
- Know that you will have “twinges,” those feelings in your gut making you question every decision. I would start to think of all the people I would miss, all the record label calls, the backstage meet and greets, the way I roll up to the parking attendant and say, “I’m Barb Richards, Majic 95.1” and they wave me into a front parking spot (I’m really going to miss that perk!).
- Be hopeful and optimisitc. A treasured friend of mine had a life coach that said, “Declare victory and move on!” I remind myself that there are new things that I don’t even know about yet that will enter my life. Maybe even a better perk than a front parking spot.
- Get the right job. A drowning man grabs at anything he can. So set yourself up as best you can to not be drowning. You may make less money, but be more happy, especially than you have been the past few years. Know that finding a new job that you like and can have a PASSION for is going to take some time. Before I changed job status, we met with the financial planner and reviewed our finances. He was very helpful. We also went and got a home equity loan so had a nice cushion if we needed it.
- This was a tough realization and one that just pisses me off! Sorry, but it just does: Age discrimination does exist. And that was probably one of the scariest realizations for me. I had to accept that for certain jobs in marketing, public relations, representing an organization, product or foundation, I was just too old for some of them. My skills, passion, or desire didn’t really matter. I did not have the right image. Realizing this also made me decide that I was getting close to a now or never time. Either do it soon or decide to settle in and stay for the duration in radio. You don’t want to wait too long. Each year older makes the slice of the job pie smaller.
- Finally, when you have resigned, had the going away lunch, and cleaned out your desk, make the conscious decision to look ahead, not behind. It’s sad to say goodbye, yet so exciting to say hello.
Barb is already a couple of weeks into her new position as Marketing Manager for one of the most respected local community businesses in Ft. Wayne, a company I’m certain realized her value from her work at Majic 95.1
She will do great, as she always has!
There is life after radio, and if you’re struggling to find your way, I hope Barb’s story gives you some concrete ideas, and real hope.