…A big rock falls to the pit of your stomach and your mind starts panicking…
This day will come where you suddenly find yourself out on the doorstep of your company with the door shut behind you. The clouds suddenly swoop in blocking out the sun and it starts to pour. As much as you have been preparing for a rainy day like this, there is nothing that can prepare you for that experience and the reality that soon follows.
You suddenly feel lost, with no compass in hand to look at. An emotional waterfall takes effect and you go from shocked and confused, to sad and angry. You immediately begin to retrace your steps to see where you went wrong. Your mind works to try and rationalize the situation and come up with suitable reasons.
Although it is important to look back, you don’t want to spend too much time dwelling on the event. This is a tunnel best glimpsed at from the cave’s entrance rather than going down into the depths of that cavern and risk getting lost in a dark realm. You have to be content with what you can see from the entrance, even if the answers you are looking for don’t appear.
To give you direction, here are some day by day steps to get you through your first week unemployed and back on the right track.
DAY ONE AND TWO
Priority one. Stabilize your feelings. You can’t do anything rational when your emotions are over-riding everything. Immediately find emotional support to talk through your feelings. This will help you to feel better right away. Find some way to blow off steam, whether it be going for a walk, a hike, or throwing some punches at the punching bags in the gym.
Priority two. Clear your mind. Take care of the itching priorities on your mind. Work to recover any important documents. Review your severance agreement carefully before signing. Go through your bills and see what you can cut down for now. Make a run to the pharmacy and stock up on any prescriptions and schedule doctor and dentist appointments before your medical insurance runs out. Depending on what day your termination went into effect, plan to apply for unemployment benefits before the Sunday of that same week as all claims submitted that week get processed on that day. This way you don’t have to go an additional week waiting for payment.
Update your resume. Freshen up your LinkedIn profile to match. Don’t necessarily put an end date on your last job if the month of your termination is not up yet. Use it to your advantage. Put out “feelers” to all of your contacts letting them know that you are looking for new work. You don’t have to necessarily tell them you’re not working as you might get more leverage this way. Be sure not to give them a pity story or show desperation. Try this:
“I’m surveying the landscape to see if there are any new opportunities on the horizon for my next career move. Looking to get in with good people, as always and was wondering if you had any suggestions?”
Do a little soul searching. Go outside and enjoy yourself. Connect with the world doing something you love to do, whether that is going to the beach, hiking a mountain, taking a bike ride, going to science or art museum, taking your dog to the dog park, etc. During this time let your mind wander wherever it wants to go and think through things. Think about all the possibilities that are open to you now. Feel free to get dreamy. Maybe now is the time you could start that business? Move to a new state or country? What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
Write up your list of options side by side. Just looking at the list will start to get you excited
and motivated. Start to tussle out the pros and cons of each. Which one fits your desires the best? Pick a select few and draw up next steps for each of them. I recommend you pick 2 to 3, Plan A, B and C. Life is unpredictable as you have recently discovered and putting all your eggs in one basket before didn’t work out so well for you. Time to diversify and split your time between your best options.
Play around with what kind of routine you want to settle into as you work toward making your options a reality. Once you find a new routine you will start to feel settled and good about moving in a new direction. Set some daily goals that you can incorporate into your routine. For example,
7-7:30 Eat a healthy breakfast and sip coffee in your favorite spot
7:30-7:45 Stretch or take a walk
8-9 Send any correspondence at key hours of the day when people are most likely to see it.
9-9:15 Take a break
11-11:15 Take a break
11:15-12:30 Apply for a job
1-1:30 Respond to correspondence
1:30-1:45 Take a break
3-3:30 Take a break
3:30-4:30 Apply for a job
4:30-5 Be sure at the end of every day to set up next steps for the following day.
6-8 Meetup with friends / Happy Hour / Event
Try not to switch in between tasks. Select one and see it through to the end. That is the quickest way to see results.
Be sure to take lots of breaks between all these tasks so you don’t become drained. This is the time you need your energy and pep more than ever.
You might also recognize that things are a lot lonelier when you don’t have your co-workers around you all the time anymore. It’s important that you get out and get some social interaction at least once a day. I recommend to join a meetup or mastermind group where people have common interests as you. Creating a new circle of friends can sound tough, but trust me, you’re going to crave the social interaction so badly that you will get over any fears you have. It truly is a wonderful mood booster. It will also help you become more confident in meeting new people and help you practice the art of networking. Be sure to put yourself out there, letting people know what you are looking for while at the same time trying to provide value to others. You never know who people know that could lead you to your next job.
Re-order these days however feels right. If you need to take more time to recover and enjoy yourself go for it. Just remember to give yourself deadlines that you can hold yourself accountable for. You are now your own boss.
Kaaawa_Beach_walk.jpg By Marshman at English Wikipedia / Eric Guinther (Originally from en.wikipedia.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
QED Socializing 2014.jpg By Sgerbic (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons