Updated on 04.09.10

Rebooting Your Life

Trent Hamm

Henry writes in (I edited a few minor details to help with privacy issues, because I think without edits it might be possible for people to easily figure out who Henry is):

Six months ago, I lost my six figure job as a database administrator. A month after that, just before Christmas, my wife left me, taking the kids with her. She filed for divorce claiming negligence because I didn’t have a job. Soon, I was forced to move out of our home and into an apartment. I got a job working in construction in February. Two days after starting the job, I suffered a broken hip thanks to falling debris. I’m currently in a wheelchair, undergoing therapy, and I hope to walk again by the end of the summer.

Needless to say, my life is very different now. I’m not down about it though. I realize that I have a great chance right now to completely restart my life. I received a decent cash settlement from work and will be receiving steady compensation as well, so my financial situation is pretty good. Plus, right now I have all the time in the world to figure out what comes next.

If you were in my shoes, where would you start? What would you do with a year’s worth of time and a steady income to build a new future for yourself?

Henry, you’ve had a doozy of a six month period. It is absolutely to your credit that you’re still in a positive frame of mind after all of this. That speaks very well for whatever you wind up doing from here.

I would suggest doing two things over the next month.

First, limit your media intake. Yes, I know it’s easy to just sit there and watch television and surf the internet when you’re laid up, but doing that not only delays the inevitable things you’re going to have to do, it also establishes some pretty awful routines and it just gives away the time you could be using to build the life you want.

Instead of sitting there surfing the web or watching the ol’ telly, try doing things. Yes, obviously, keep this within the things you’re capable of doing, but try doing whatever comes to mind. Whatever seems interesting to you. What things have you wanted to try in the past that you’ve never had the time for or that the people around you have resisted?

It can be anything. Don’t be ashamed of what it might be – that’s often the echo of people trying to tell you what your limits are.

Try some things. Eventually, you’ll find yourself gravitating away from some things that you don’t like and towards some things that you do like. You’ll also notice that some things seem to come easy to you and other things feel difficult. To put it simply, move towards the things that come easy and also excite you.

Don’t worry about whether these things can make you money or not yet. What you’re trying to find are things where your passion and your skill meet together, because those are the things where you’ll have the magic touch. You’ll enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll produce great stuff, and people will want to pay you for it.

Don’t be afraid to just spend a few months trying new things and seeing where you naturally gravitate. Most people simply don’t have the time in adult life to do this, but doing this can actually point you straight towards the career that you should have – the one you’ll both enjoy and excel at.

Once you find the right thing, you’ll know. You’ll find yourself waking up in the morning with an itch to do it. You’ll find yourself creating things left and right. Better yet, those things you create will draw a positive response from others, even if they’re still a bit amateurish.

When you find that thing that you love to do, look for how others make money doing that thing. Research your field of interest online and find leaders in the field. How do they make money? What kinds of things do they do? What sort of education do they have? How did they get started? Biographies can help. Wikipedia can help. Sometimes, contacting the person can help.

Once you have this information, create a game plan for getting to where you’d like to go with this passion. Will it require schooling? Will it require the formation of a small business? Will it require some apprenticeship? Figure out what it will take to get there and how financially lean things will have to be to reach that point.

Hand in hand with this, you should live as cheaply as you reasonably can. You don’t need to live like a hermit, but you should be mindful that such a career switch might be very expensive.

As you heal and recover, simply follow through with your game plan. Seek out a mentor to help you refine your plan and to get you on the right page. Get involved in communities that relate to the area you’re seeking, both in your local area and online.

If you do these things with sincerity and honesty, you’ll find yourself headed down a great path to a powerful new life. Good luck.

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  1. lurker carl says:


    Henry, best of luck with whatever you decide.

  2. Troy says:

    I am surprised family wasn’t metioned at all.

    That is where I would start. Spend time with the kids. Help them heal with what I imagine was a very difficult time. Get that part good, or if it already is make it better. They would be my focus.

  3. Venkat says:

    I understand, you went through some rough times. If you are a religious person, have faith in God and do things that will cheer you up like spending time with your kids or a hobby that will reinforce positiveness.

    It was mentioned that you are a Database Administrator. Did you think about passing any certification exams(sure some say that is of no value- Don’t Listen, it forces you to learn). Since you already spent time in the Field( as DBA), you can also look at blogging your experience as DBA(this would also force you to learn).
    Whatever you do, don’t sit there and think about the past(I had lost My Mom, Dad, Sister, and a Son in a span of 5 years). It is never easy to deal with difficult circumstances. But, in my opinion god gives difficulties to those who he thinks, can bear.

    Don’t let Media(don’t vegetate in front of TV) dictate your life(Lively music or songs are OK), your faculties can be put to good use for yourself/your Kids or your community.

  4. Poultry in Motion says:

    Wow, that’s a hard series of events :(

    Henry, DBAs are a smart group of folks by default and it sounds like you’re a good one. I think Trent’s advice is extremely sound. The only thing I’d add is to avoid video games as you would the media…that kind of time drain can easily eat up a year before you know it (yup, it happened to me).

    Bud, I wish you the best, and I hope you have a speedy recovery. Perhaps your local library might be a good place to start to look for new things to get involved with? I know mine has a tack board with loads of group meetings posted.

    Good luck, and please keep that positive outlook :)

  5. jim says:

    Why not return to DBA work? 6 figure jobs are not easy to come by, may as well pursue the one he’s already had success in. I’m guessing he hates it or something?

  6. Thats some pretty solid advice for a pretty crappy situation.

    I wish luck to the author of that piece!

  7. christine a says:

    Firstly, I’m with Lurker Carl and everyone else in wishing Henry the very best of luck hereon in.
    If Henry’s financial position really is solid then he could set some time out for what I call ‘growth’ reading. I’m currently taking Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman in very small doses – it’s a tough read but v. rewarding and certainly develops my world view.

  8. Mary says:

    Yes, it’s pretty easy to tell this was written by Jon Gosselin?

  9. Karen says:

    Wish you luck!
    At Mary #8 – funny

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