Shifting Gears in Life Without Riding the Clutch

Life and Changing Jobs

Life and Changing Jobs

Making a big life change is pretty scary.  But, know what’s even scarier?  Regret.

In Simon T. Bailey’s book “The Vuja de Moment” he talks about restarting your engine and offers this poignant remark, “The question is not whether you should shift to follow your passion.  The real question is what do you fear about your future that is causing you to presently be stuck in neutral?”

As the recession continues, many people are finding ways to earn a living without relying on traditional jobs. Many of the best are finding greater satisfaction in working as consultants or contractors, achieving better work-life integration & happiness while potentially earning more.

Probationary Period or Test Drive?

Numerous businesses are offering temporary assignments to consultants/contractors as a way of “test driving the car” without making the purchase.  In the workplace, we used to call this the probationary period.  Think about it for a moment.  If you were a high level C executive managing your company’s disintegrating bottom line, and were responsible for finding the next “right” person, would you want to make the financial commitment to hiring a full-time employee?  Employers are finding a host of ways to engage people outside of regular employment and candidates are benefitting from assignments at multiple companies.  In fact, the idea of having a career at one company is a lost notion and the term “regular employment” is becoming nostalgic.

What then is everyone to do?  Don’t worry, lean into technology and let the ideas start flowing!

Virtual Work Teams Drive Corporate Innovation

Virtual teams are fueling projects and programs all over the globe!  Companies are utilizing experienced and talented individuals, who will work across time, space and organizational boundaries; collaborating to solve complex business problems.  A recent study revealed that more than 100 million people this past year alone worked on a virtual work team at least one day a month.  Many of them chose to stay on for the next project, switch project teams or simply jumped to a new company.  Either way, it was a winning combination for both parties.  The corporate ladder has turned into a jungle gym with the talent swinging across the global playground!

Last week, I spoke to a colleague whose position was eliminated as part of a corporate restructuring.  Panic quickly set in and she immediately did what anyone else would do – start applying to jobs.  After sending out numerous resumes, receiving minimal responses, and going on a few so-so interviews, she shifted gears!  She is now working on retainer and has contracts with four different companies.  Her work environment is exciting as she is gaining exposure and experience with a diverse group of organizations.

The New Work Model of Free Agent Nation

The long standing model of work and your job is changing.  The rise of technology has had enormous implications for organizational structure, people management, and workplace design.  Some organizations are already leveraging the new ways of working; others are struggling to understand what the future means.  Ten years ago social networks did not exist; 10 years prior to that the web was in its infancy.  Who knows what jobs will exist in 20 years?

Individuals are finding new freedoms and exploring their own capacity for change and entrepreneurism. The free agent nation movement is growing.  Work is what you do, not a place you go. Are you ready to make a shift?  What could your work look like for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Lisa Bonner is the Assistant Vice President of Contemporary Work Practices at The Hartford.  She is the proud mother of very active 14 year-old twin boys and resides in Suffield, Connecticut. Connect with her on LinkedIn or on Twitter @LisacBonner. The opinions expressed are personal and not related to The Hartford.

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Lisa Bonner

Lisa Bonner is an experienced change agent and Senior Vice President with Roberts Golden Consulting. She helps global Fortune 500 companies solve organizational issues and manage major changes to drive achievement of bold business objectives. Lisa is passionate about football, fitness, decorating and raising twin boys. Connect with Lisa.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jessica Miller-Merrell says

    This is a great post, Lisa. You and I have had many conversations about this. Change is hard especially for corporate America. Career professionals are wanting to make their own rules and are moving toward freelance and free agent positions so they can have a choice. While companies are open to the opportunity, I think they are beginning to struggle with losing good people to these types of positions. When I left my job, many people were perplexed. Why would I leave a good job during a recession and leave the rest to chance.

    Truth is, I was dying in my job. The life was literally being sucked out of me. While scary, I found myself in the freedom. Meaning that I could really be who I wanted to be without apologizing or holding back. It was liberating. Thanks for discussing this topic. Companies are going to really have to think hard to retain top employees who have a free agent mindset.


    • Lisa Bonner says

      Thanks for your comment Jessica. The rules are changing and top talent is in position to redefine how they work!


  1. […] Managing and leading a virtual team whether your employees are in the field like I was or working from home or other location is one of the most challenging tasks.  I can attest whether its a simple project team or your staff leading someone remote is tough stuff.  You must provide support, communicate effectively and thoroughly, and trust your employees.  Except that many managers do none of the above.  For me, I was bombarded by emails and received accusatory phone calls at all hours.  My manager, Sam spent a ridiculous amount of time listening to the grapevine and over-reacted, and so I learned the art of managing up. […]


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