Good Times and Bad Times Bring About Great Resignations

Three Lessons Learnt From Times Of Change and Uncertainty Gone By

Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning
Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.

I left Investment Banking in 2003.

Was it a Great Resignation?

I can’t say it was, but I can say it was greatly significant.

During my 12+ years in Investment Banking, I had always worked on a freelance basis, on three-month rolling contracts that could be ended with a two week notice period by either party. In 2003, there was a slowing in the market, and the bank decided to end much of their contract work in order to make the jobs of permanent staff more secure. I was offered a permanent position, which I declined. It was the push I needed. And so my resignation couldn’t be called a great resignation, but it could be called greatly significant.


Because it was the beginning of a new WorkLife chapter, which has gotten me to where I am today.

It took a little time, though, because first, I needed to figure out what I would do next. Which was to become a WorkLife learning practitioner and writer, helping people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives. That required getting my degree in Career Coaching and Management. It was quite a balancing act working to bring in much-needed income, which I did by facilitating workshops while studying and gaining practical experience that would allow me to launch my new WorkLife.

This brings me to:

Lesson One of Three Lessons Learnt From Times Of Change and Uncertainty Gone By.

1. We can overestimate what we can achieve in one year and underestimate what we can achieve in three years and beyond.

Fast forward to 2006, and I’m working with people who were part of the Great Resignation movement of that time. People who were willing to take a risk on leaving a job that wasn’t fulfilling to them, to go in search of a new WorkLife that aligned with what was important to them — both in and out of work.

Why were they willing to take this risk?

Because at that time, it was a buoyant job market, and this helped mitigate the risk. If things didn’t work out, or if things didn’t happen as quickly as needed, they could go back to what they were doing or get another job in the interim.

Within two years, those good times came crashing down when we hit the recession of 2008 and beyond. Those that kept their jobs hung on to them for dear life. Those who lost their jobs, who wanted to get back into full-time employment, began the challenge to make that happen. And those, who like me, figured the loss of their job was the push they needed to do something different started working to make that happen.

My work shifted to delivering Outplacement programmes, helping people make the transition that was right for them, whether that was getting back into the workplace in a similar role or beginning something new.

This wasn’t a time of Great Resignations but Forced Redundancies.

For this story, I will focus on the learning I gained from the people who began a new WorkLife chapter.

This brings me to:

Lesson Two of Three Lessons Learnt From Times Of Change and Uncertainty Gone By.

“There’s a saying that if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. The truth is you will work harder than you ever thought possible, but the tools will feel light in your hands.” Tim Cook

This is because all the time, you will be carving out the WorkLife that fits your wants and needs.

Fast forward to the present day. So much has shifted in the last year. People have come to realise that the world we live in is not secure, and trusting your future to an organisation, even if it’s a good organisation, doesn’t make it safe. If you love your job and want to keep doing it, you may also want to build something for yourself, perhaps a side hustle that will give you extra security. And if you don’t love your job, perhaps now is the push you need to make your Great Resignation.

This brings me to:

Lesson Three of Three Lessons Learnt From Times Of Change and Uncertainty Gone By.

You Have Much of What You Need Within You, and What You Don’t Have, You Will Be Able to Find or Figure Out.

For example, over the last year, I couldn’t deliver the live learning workshops I had planned, so I wrote 27 e-books, which I’ve called The School Of WorkLife book series. The series is designed to help people manage their WorkLife learning and transitions through times of change and uncertainty. Through good times and bad times. To help people navigate their pathways, to be ready for the Big Resignation, should that be the next chapter of their WorkLife story.

And I had much of what I needed within me to do that. I’ve been a collector of people’s amazing WorkLife stories since 2003 when I made my significant resignation. Since then, I’ve also created many learning programmes.

In writing the books, I simply told people’s powerful stories of WorkLife challenges and successes. I shared the exercises which helped navigate these situations, which I presented as learning assignments for people to work through.

I worked with an editor in self-publishing the e-books, and that led me to work with his publishing company on my next paperback, WorkLife Book Club.

If I can do it, so can you, and you never know where your new WorkLife chapter will lead you, and what doors and opportunities will open along the way.

Tap the link below to see the books in The School Of WorkLife series.



This story was originally published on 21/6/21. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you 

… The Continuing Story …

The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.

In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.

Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.

The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.


School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning? 

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

How To Use Turning Points to Start Something Different and Better

How To Build Your WorkLife Around What Engages and Inspires You

How To Successfully Invent and Reinvent Yourself  

Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Founder of School of WorkLife, Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.