Things were going pretty well. Christmas with the family had been wonderful. Progress on The Thieves of Traska was in an excellent place. I went to Albany to see a friend and go to a concert. Work stress calmed down a bit and I was bouncing back from the flu. I was on track to resume my graduate writing classes in the spring. But then I lost my job.
Very few people, including myself, were shocked. It was a toxic environment where I was personally targeted, and I’d been actively applying to other jobs for almost a year. This wasn’t the way I wanted to leave–certainly not without another job lined up and right after I’d just signed on for another year at my apartment. But I got out. I tried to focus on that and move on.
Give Yourself Time for Emotions to Level Out
While losing my job wasn’t completely unexpected, I was still shocked. And angry. And I felt totally powerless in determining the course of my life. Luckily, just before all this happened, I’d read Tee Morris’ blog post 3 Tips on Getting Back on Track When Life Knocks You Down. His post was so helpful in calming me down and finding what I should do next, that I emailed him a thank you. He was kind enough to reply with another invaluable blog post: 5 Things to Do After You Lose Your Job.
His point about avoiding a social media meltdown made me reconsider whether or not I should write this post. But I’m not here to rant or make my former employer look bad. I want to follow in Tee’s footsteps and use this experience as a chance to maybe calm someone else down and help them figure out their next step.
Get Into a Routine
Both of his posts stress the importance of getting organized again. I’m not sure it’s what he had in mind, but my first step was moving my furniture all around and sorting out my physical space. At the very least, I got to channel some rage into shoving my massive dresser back and forth across the room.
Then I reorganized my time and came up with a new routine. I was determined to get back on my feet as quickly as possible. I woke up to take care of the cat, made some tea, and worked on my writing for a few hours. Just before noon, I made coffee, did some chores, and spent the rest of the day on job hunting until it was time to make dinner.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of creating this kind of schedule is that it cuts down on panic. You found a job with a steady paycheck before, and you will do it again. Every time your brain starts demanding when you’ll have a new job, you can calmly remind it, “We found some excellent opportunities yesterday afternoon, and we applied to them today. Tomorrow we will find more.”
One of my favorite professors always talked about the importance of self-discipline. It’s what makes you consistently early to class or work. It’s what keeps you from wasting the day on social media instead of writing or applying to jobs. It keeps you making progress.
Be Open to Opportunities You Might Not Have Considered
I kept on applying to jobs in my field. Writing, communications, social media, marketing, etc. I even almost fell for a scam. It was demoralizing. One month down and still no job. My savings would only float me for so long. To take a break, I met up with a friend for coffee to catch up and talk about job search struggles. On the way to do a little window shopping, he asked if we could stop at this little cafe bakery to see if one of his friends was working that day. We walked in and I fell in love.
A French couple ran the place, making fresh bread and pastries every morning. They also sold sandwiches and sweet and savory crepes. As soon as I found one of the owners, I asked if she was hiring. A few days later, I had my apron and I was learning to make lattes and crepes. That job inspired me to take more interest in cooking and baking. Soon, I was bringing in samples of things I’d made at home and asking for feedback from the baker and the culinary students who worked in the kitchen.
Keep in Touch With Your Network
As it happened, a couple of my fellow writing graduates lived in the same apartment complex as me. One of them worked for a small publishing company that produced tourism magazines. The French cafe I worked at happened to advertise in one of the magazines. My friend and her coworker came in for the cafe’s anniversary party and we chatted. Soon after, my friend told me she and her husband were moving out of the country and she needed to find someone to replace her at work. I applied, interviewed, and got the job. And I’d only been at the cafe for about three months.
I got to spend the next three years writing articles and advertorials, managing social media accounts, and figuring out what I wanted next for my career.
What about you? How do you keep on track and stay focused?