I finished my last major deadline yesterday. This should be a cause for celebration, permission to take it easy and plan relaxing activities, but instead I have a sick feeling of fear. A low-level dread just this side of an existential crisis. This can’t be healthy.

I feel very up in the air right now. While I have a good job, I don’t feel like its a “career”. A couple things are fueling this. First, I have always let too much of my identify stem from my professional life, and secondly, I’ve had a job, almost uninterrupted, since I was 14. I have an absolute terror of losing my job.

I was laid off once and found it devastating. I know popular wisdom is that these kind of life experiences make you stronger, but the only thing being laid off made stronger in me was my profound fear of not having a paycheck. I remember I went home and didn’t get out of bed for a week. Didn’t answer my phone or my door buzzer.

The second week after my layoff I went and signed up with a couple of temp agencies (failing the typing tests spectacularly) and got a position doing inside sales for a publisher of trade magazines. Probably because I have a trained voice. Or maybe no one else would take it. Whatever the case I turned that into a permanent job after three months. Hated it but I was nonetheless very good at getting machine shops to direct their advertising dollars my way. (I just looked it up and its an online magazine, not even in print anymore.)

So my back up plan, in case a new position doesn’t pan out, is to become a consultant. I have put things in motion to consult in the area of my current work that gives me profound satisfaction – life/career coaching. Coaching is my sweet spot. An immensely gratifying use of my natural skills that also requires intellectual engagement, ongoing training and a deep commitment to being present. I couldn’t ask for more.

Except. Except I realize I have no desire to work solo, hustle for clients or manage a business. In a perfect world my boss would let me use all of those skills to provide in-house coaching and customized workshops. Someone else takes care of payroll tax, I get a built in client base as well as co-workers. But nothings perfect, least of all career trajectory, and so I plan.

Planning is the methadone as I detox from over-work and contemplate my future.