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The Road to Alignment: What Getting Fired Taught Me About My Values

I graduated college a year before the great recession started. I spent my mid to late 20s job hopping from one place to the next, learning a lot about the dire landscape of the American workplace. I learned more about what I didn’t want to be doing than what I wanted to be doing in my career.

One such job was working as an “admissions advisor” at a sketchy online college. This place had that pseudo-fun start-up culture but was a pretty deceptive reality. The job involved targeting low-income young people and pressuring them to sign up for financial aid and enroll in our online college. A majority of the students didn’t even have internet or computer access at home – are you kidding me? This was in 2010.

The scary part was, this shady institution had a partnership with a real brick-and-mortar university in the area so they appeared to be a legit outfit. After trying to recruit students who really didn't have an interest in college or online college for that matter, I quickly felt unaligned with the work and decided not to do it anymore.

I spent my time building a website and working on my freelance graphic design business. Someone in that office caught on to my shenanigans and I got fired.

I remember the shame of trying to pack up my balance ball that I sat on instead of an office chair. I let the air out of it, the balance ball deflating with farting noises just like my ego. My cubicle neighbors stared at me.

I held back my tears and tried not to make eye contact. I don’t know why I wanted to cry, I hated that job. I think it was just a feeling of being found out, and disappointing the people who hired me? I took my sad office plant and box of cubicle decor and got the fu*k out of there.

Turns out, not too long after, the company had its accreditation pulled and shut down. Good, they were predators. Also, because they were such a bad company, I had to involve the department of labor to try and get my 401k rolled over. That was a several-year-long debacle.

After a brief stint in the shady world of for-profit online education, I learned to never again ignore my instincts or do something that doesn't align with my beliefs and values.

This experience showed me just how important it is to stay true to myself and follow through with what I believe in. With that lesson in mind, I started my business because I wanted to create a life and career that was in line with my values, allowing me to serve others and build relationships on my own terms. Since then, I use alignment as a guidepost when making tough decisions each day.

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