2 years ago, when my grandmother passed away, I remember the plane landing and ushering myself and my son off looking forward to getting home and finally taking a breathe. As I was driving through our neighborhood, hard reality slapped me in my face – life goes on. Regardless of what events have occurred, regardless of your mental or emotional state, cars were driving past me as I entered our neighborhood, blissfully ignorant of my life, and their life continued on – moving forward without a second thought. In that moment I so desperately wanted to push Life’s Pause Button. I wanted the world around me to slow the F down and I wanted life to pause just for a second. I needed to breathe, to process, to grieve. And when life is zooming past you at what seems like the speed of sound, it’s overwhelming. It’s sad. It’s disconcerting. So in the peace of my home I figured out how to take a breath and grieve, while also getting back in the game of life. It was survival – I had to do it even if I didn’t want to. Because life can be brutal. It can be beautiful and joyous, but sometimes it can be a butthead. I share this with you because once again I wish I could press Life’s Pause Button.
I’ve been wanting to write this post and be authenticate and honest with ya’ll. After all, my poop stinks too, I have marital challenges at times, I have child-rearing challenges at times, and I fall apart like a crazy person sometimes. Because I am not perfect regardless of what this blog may say otherwise. So today I am sharing with you some raw honesty. And although its not on par with losing a loved one, its been a life-rocker none the less.
The “L” Word
At the beginning of this month I got a call and was told by the VP of my business that due to cost saving measures my position was being eliminated.
Ya’ll I was laid off.
And at first I was like this….
Then I was like this because I was home sick. Can anyone say bad timing?
And then I was like this….
But then I remembered there is this sweet precious boy…
So I did this.
And then I took my planned trip to Florida and took a week off. Because when your world comes crashing down, you run to your parents like any other almost-thirty-year-old with a mortgage. Just kidding. Kinda.
They say losing a job is like losing a loved one. At least the steps of grief are. First you’re in denial, then angry, then you barter, then you’re bitter, then you finally accept. Or something like that. I think right now I am at the YOLO stage. Can we add that in there? I have come to a healthy place where I am not so stressed and looking forward to some time. Just some gosh darn time. And in case you are curious as how I did it, or you find yourself in a similar position, here’s what I did.
- Take some time. I Googled “just got laid off” and every search came back with some form or another of “take some time off”. And although I am a planner and an action person, I could see the benefit with this. Even with being almost 5 months pregnant. I needed to get my bearings. And process what just happened. In my case I got a severance package and my official termination date was a week later so I had a little breathing room. Don’t make any drastic decisions within those first couple of days when you are reeling from what you have just been told. Instead cry, eat ice cream, and wallow. Wallowing is healthy, promise.
- Know your People. This is one thing that really surprised me. When I went to pack up my office, I had people reaching out and rallying with me. I had my people. Hug them. Cry with them. Confide in them. Through this whole process I have recognized who my true friends are – the people who are willingly inconveniencing themselves to help me. Those people who want to help me. Take their help and lean on their support. Connect with them and keep in touch with them. Two of my friends either connected me to a job or recommended me for a job. You never know who knows who. And then, feel all the love. I know I do.
- Severance Package, Outplacement resources, HR, oh my. If you got a severance package you are going to have to be proactive to figure it out. My (previous) company’s HR was no help in that regard. They basically handed me a packet and told me to call the numbers provided. Not very helpful. Get a direct HR contact at the company in case you need to follow up or have questions later. And be prepared to make lots of phone calls and figure this out.
- Financial Assessment. Like anyone, I was worried about our finances. Going from x amount a month to $0 a month is shocking. and stressful. And you will feel all the feels. But in my opinion this is the time to get serious about your budget and spending and figure out what things can go immediately and what other things you will need to work on to cut costs. This doesn’t need to be really detailed yet, but you should have a general idea of what you can cut. For example, for us it was cutting Diapers pre-school attendance from full time to 3 days a week. This is a savings of $40 per week which is $160 a month. It may not seem like a lot now, but that could be gas, groceries for a week or two, or even pay off a credit card. Also, groceries is another area where I am back to couponing, swagbucking, and using all of my rebate apps. I could write a whole post on just this, so if you want some more details on this let me know and I’d be happy to share my method and experience.
- Resume. Now is the time to network and get a kick-ass resume put together. Hopefully after 1-4 you have had some time to do some soul searching and figure out what you want to do. Maybe a career change makes sense. Maybe you want to follow your passion. Maybe you want to stay home with your kiddos. Whatever is resonating with you, figure out how to pull out key competencies and results from previous roles to highlight what you can bring to another company. For me, I am looking for an industry change. And nautrally this means limited experience, but only limited industry experience. I still have great work experience and have high impact business results that I can speak to.
- Network. I finally broke down and have a LinkedIn profile. And I am networking. It really is powerful and any and all resources you get makes it even more powerful. Consider local job fairs, friends, college alumi, recruiters, head hunters, etc. Step outside your comfort zone a little and find some routine to mange these and get into a routine where you are putting yourself and your talents out there. I have found LinkedIn to be very good and I am also using Glassdoor.com to check out companies, jobs, salaries, benefits and other info.
- Unemployment. Chances are if you’ve been laid off, you will qualify for state unemployment. Since this is a program our taxes help support, you have been paying into this program, so now is your chance to take full advantage of it. It won’t be a lot, as most states have a weekly cap regardless of your previous income level, but its still something. My state requires job searches and attending an orientation. It is annoying for me to manage all of this, but I also recognize its a small sacrifice of my time to get some income into my household immediately. And its of course another way to network by attending the events your state hosts for job searches. In line with this, also consider other government programs such as WIC, SNAP (food stamps), Child care assistance, etc. Again, we contribute to these with our taxes so don’t be ashamed to reach out and see if you qualify.
- Job Searches and Applying. I was given the advice of spending a good 25 hours per week searching and applying jobs. Anymore than that and you will get burned out and frustrated. This can be 3, 8 hour days or 5, 5 hour days. Structure it with what works for you but be prepared to invest some time and energy. Job titles are not a one size fits all and in my experience, I always have to tweak a resume some before applying.
- Get Creative. This applies to everything from your new found time, to your finances, to your resume and job searching. Be unconventional. Think outside the box. Put some spice and personality into your resume to set you apart. Think of unique childcare options, or creative ways to significantly lower your budget whether its with student loans, car payments, or credit card payments. There is no one-size-fits-all approach here. Now is the time to figure out what is going to work best for you. And nothing says you can’t do something (unless its illegal of course) so step outside your comfort zone and have fun with this part! A great example I can share is with our finances. I have a lot of student loans. Our monthly student loan payment is on the order of an apartment rent amount. Its a lot, and its choking our budget. So we tossed around ideas like using my severance to pay off the higher interest ones, restructuring our payments, and looking into other income based repayment options, but none of them were ideal because interest is still accrued. Our best option is to pay them off. And we found a way to do that which results in us freeing up about $600 a month in our budget. And that is significant. For personal reasons/security, I haven’t shared the details, but if you are curious or want to know some more specifics just shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to share!
- Quality and Quantity Time. As a (previously) working mom, my time with Diapers was limited to an hour or so in the morning, a few hours in the evening, and the weekends. Although the days are short, the months seem long so I am taking this opportunity to invest more into my son. We are going to the library, feeding the ducks our old stale bread. Watching movies. Cuddling. Building forts, playing with side walk chalk and even redoing my flower bed (read: weeding, raking, pruning, and replanting). I’m also doing some DIY projects for Baby Boy’s room (maybe good fodder for a blog post!). I am occupying my time and mind with activities that are filling me up to lighten the stress and burden of constant job searching. Its important to take care of yourself. So don’t forget your hobbies! Invest in yourself too – I remind myself of this daily.
- Remember Life Goes On. At the beginning of this rather lengthy post, I said I wanted to push the Pause Button. And some days I still do. But life goes on. Dishes need to get done, kids need to be fed, laundry needs to be done, and for me the key is a new routine. I’m still not in one yet, but what I am doing is NOT hermitting myself in the house. I am an introvert and I would be perfectly content staying home applying to job after job. But I have friends calling, texting, making plans. I have good people ya’ll. I am loved. My phone is constantly blowing up – and I really like that. I have friends who want to keep in touch and its been a kind reminder to me that life does in fact, still go on and move ahead. So this past weekend Diapers went to a birthday party (ask how I did this on a budget!), last Wednesday I went out to lunch with a friend. Then on Friday another friend came over and spent her lunch hour at my house catching up. And on Sunday another friend stopped by to catch up and help with my DIY projects. Life goes on, and I have found that if I step outside my introverted tendencies, I am enjoying this time. I am still working on a good routine and a mangeable balance, but it feels good to live and not be stuck on pause.
This post is long enough so I will end this here. If you’ve managed to make it this far then thanks and go eat a cookie because you totally deserve it. Actually eat 5.
- Have you ever been laid off from a job?
- Do you wish there was a Life Pause Button like me?
- How was your weekend?
- Any good DIY-ers out there?