When you get laid off, you’re in a strange kind of phase where all of a sudden you have a lot of time, but your brain is scattered. Days prior you may have wished you could have some time off. Now that you have it, you wish you could be back at work. The trick is to enjoy this season. Spend time with family that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Watch your kids grow up a little. Teach them something. Learn something new. And yes, do those other things to: apply for jobs, outreach to your network, and check your finances.
Before I was laid off I was quick to give others advice. I’d send them a blog article (10 Things You Need to Do if You were Fired Yesterday) or recommend they attend a networking group or meetup. What I didn’t realize was a) the effect of pride and b) the strain on mental bandwidth. When things aren’t good, pride doesn’t want to “reach out”. It wants to hide that problem. And when money is not coming in regularly, a higher percentage of the brain is allocated to thought about ‘how to get more money’, burning bandwidth (1,2).
Even job applications require eliminating a little bit of hubris. Yes, you must fill out all of these boxes regardless of your business acumen or professional experience. Yes, you must convince us to hire you even if you are completely qualified for the job. You have to sell yourself, but as time goes on, the ability to sell yourself gets questioned. Confidence begins to wane. The no’s begin to pile up. You start to second-guess yourself. The bills start getting behind. Your ability to buy basic essentials begins to come into question.
The Blame Game
The first person I blamed was myself. “What did I do wrong?” In Christopher Avery’s Responsibility Process™ he says that when a problem occurs, our default response is, “What should we do about it?” The problem is that words like “should” map to “shame” and “blame” in our minds. Instead, Avery says, we can say, “What do I want from this?” Asking yourself what you “want” maps the question to “responsibility” in your brain. Avery defines responsibility as, “Owning your ability and power to create, choose, and attract.”
What Do I Want?
Before I was laid off I thought I wanted to be an independent consultant. But after I became an independent consultant by default, I suddenly found myself wanting to be employed. Actually, what I wanted was “income”. And that may be part of the problem. I know from experience that top entrepreneurs (or employees) seek to “add value” as their primary goal. But “adding value” requires “being valuable” and that in-turn requires work. The real question was, “Do I want to do the work required to be valuable in today’s economy?”
How Much am I Worth?
Tai Lopez, a serial investor who reads a book a day, says something like, ‘Your bank account is exactly how much you are worth.’ What he means is that those who invest in their skills and work hard, and have good financial principles (like paying yourself first, spending less than you make, and investing) are more likely to have a higher bank account than people who expect things to come without working towards them or making any changes. “The safest way to try to get what you want is to try to deserve what you want.” –Charlie Munger
A Skills Gap
Right now my full-time job is finding a job using my current skillset while still maintaining the client work I have ‘on the side’. I am widening my job search outside of my current geographic region and applying for jobs ‘edge to edge’ on my current breadth of skills. For the last two days I have wrote a personal blog post. This is to keep my brain sharp and to practice writing. This post in particular is helping me figure out what to do next. I think I’ll pick a new skill to learn and start learning it. I have the time.
When I got back from the Storyline conference in November, poetically I assumed that because I lost my last full-time job just after attending the MixWest conference that I would get a new one just after attending Storyline. That didn’t happen. However, I did continue getting more interviews and from those interviews I learned what employers wanted from me. On November 19th I got my first job offer for a position that would start on December 1.
In the week before I started work I began digitally cleaning house after realizing I was spending mental energy thinking about businesses I didn’t want to run just because I had the domain names. I shut down ‘brands without businesses’: Webories, Managing Actions, Outure, Seektivity, Bold Salsa, Deliver Town, Content Market Fit, AB Insights, Marketype and Watershawl. When you delete an account on Instagram, it’s permanent. No one can get that account back – even me – so I had to be sure. I was. I set the domains to auto-expire, deleted the Twitter accounts, and updated my records.