The boss just walked in and gave you the worst news. Management decided to lay off some staff. Your department is being closed and you will be on unemployment (if you’re lucky) in less than two weeks.
This scenario happens every day to someone. Every day, someone has to go home and tell his/her family that things are getting ready to be turned upside down. Eventually, when shock passes, coping with stress begins and the realization hits: I NEED A JOB! In today’s world, that isn’t usually an easy task. What do you do? Today, I’ll help you (or someone you love), get through this mess, and maybe even come out on the other side with a great story to tell.
Some Clear Thinking
As scary as everything may seem, anxiety and worry aren’t the answers. As Seth Godin wrote, “anxiety is just practicing failure in advance.” Instead, let’s get some clear thinking and a solid grounding in reality. First and foremost, you and your family need to eat. So let’s start with how to best make that possible.
The formula for a budget is very simple:
INCOME – SAVINGS – EXPENSES = 0
The fewer unknowns you have in that equation, the better off you’ll be. So…the first thing to do is make sure to capture every expense you know is coming. Then, make sure it is a necessary expense before you pay it. Cut everything to the bare minimums because the income is either gone, or greatly reduced. Once that’s done, you’ve tackled the expense piece of things.
From there, budget like someone who is on commission-only sales pay. How? In addition to the list of all your required ongoing expenses, make a list of your other priorities that will cost money. Just take out a blank sheet of paper to list priorities and costs. Since you’ve done a good job of capturing all your expenses, you know how much (bare minimums) income you need to receive to stay afloat.
Do everything you can (without breaking the law…sad I feel the need to add that) to bring in at least that much income and then distribute it accordingly. Any extra you can bring in should be spent according to your list of other priorities. Those are totally up to you. Maybe it is savings, maybe it is something the kids need but you’ve put off – this is totally based on where you know extra money should go. See here to learn more on budgeting when your income is inconsistent.
If you’re the “average American,” you are living paycheck-to-paycheck and making payments on everything under the sun because you were too impatient to save up for that stuff. That’s no way to operate. So what if you’ll get unemployment benefits for a while. Don’t let that be an excuse to be lazy. I pay my taxes to support plenty of people who are in the midst of unemployment and are working for all they’re worth to get out. I gladly support them. But I also pay my taxes to support plenty of people who are too lazy to work…and that infuriates me!
If you are spending everything you make today, STOP. Save for the emergency that will eventually come. Live on a budget and get out of debt. Build some discipline in your finances. Doing this now is a lot easier than doing it when you’re forced to by a crisis. Trust me – you’ll make MUCH better decisions now than you will when you’re desperate.
How to Find a New Job
This one is tough and there are hundreds (probably thousands) of books just on this topic. All I’ll say here is that you have two options:
- wait for something to happen
- make something happen
Don’t give me your excuses on, “but I just can’t do anything because _[insert excuse here]_.” I’m not buying it. Charles Schwab said, “The best place to succeed is where you are with what you have.” That’s some pretty good advice. If you were spending 8+ hours per day at work, you now have 8+ hours per day to look for work. Don’t give depression or frustration enough time to enter your situation. Use your contacts to network. Use social media as a tool to reach out (but be careful it isn’t a time-waster). Make sure your resume, CV, portfolio, etc. are all up to date. Read 48 Days to the Work You Love and/or No More Dreaded Mondays, two fantastic books by Dan Miller that will help with all that.
Make the Most of It
When will you ever get another chance to spend at home with your spouse and/or kids? When will you get the chance to re-invent yourself (if desired), or learn a skill you’ve always wanted to take up? This isn’t a vacation, but it sure is a lot of newfound “free time” that you need to fill. You need to be productive, but you also need to make sure that your spouse and kids are loved on and that you recognize this is an opportunity you won’t likely get again anytime soon.
Lastly, but most importantly, recognize that you are more than your job. You are God’s creation…and no job can come close to how amazing you are when you realize the value you have in Him.
I’ve put off writing this post for a very long time. Why? Because God has been gracious enough to keep me steadily employed and I didn’t feel worthy of sharing my thoughts on this subject. But then more than a dozen people recently reached out to me over the course of a few days who were struggling with this issue.
If you’ve recently gone through a rough job change, a job loss, or other similar situation, would you please help me out with something? There are SO MANY who need you. Fill up the comments with your encouragement to them.