There are a ton of personal finance resources out there, some more helpful than others. While some of these blogs are useful no matter what your financial situation, (one of my new favorites is Canadian Budget Binder), others only make sense when you’re “right-side up.” For example, Dave Ramsey’s wisdom regarding saving, paying off debt, and investing is valuable when your income exceeds your necessary expenses. But sometimes life throws us curve balls that result in the boat springing a leak. In these times, bailing out faster than the water rushes in is the priority, and working toward lofty financial goals is the last thing on our minds.
When the crisis of job loss hits, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Some of us default to despair and depression – others immediately turn to anger. We all have a natural setting for coping with job loss. But what to do when the reaction time is passed?
Today I had the opportunity to sit down with “Pegahoot” from Pegahoot’s Blog. Pegahoot is currently experiencing the life change of unemployment, and has graciously allowed me to pick her brain. I found her perspective to be both helpful and inspirational:
1. How did you initially react to the bad news?
My initial reaction (the first 24 hours or so) was shock, disbelief, hurt, anger – just a swirl of emotions. It took 48-72 hours after the incident for me to decide that I couldn’t stay that way forever. At that point I threw on my cape, grabbed my shield and sword, and decided I was going to go out and conquer the world . That mindset will get you through for a while, but that can also trip you up and throw you into a depression when things don’t happen immediately. You get that initial surge of power, which is great, but for me it only lasted about 4-5 days. For a while, I was going to the track, cleaning the house, and filling out applications. But all of a sudden I didn’t want to get out of bed. Because nothing had happened, I got discouraged. I felt that I didn’t have anything to do unless I created something to do.
2. If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself on your first day of unemployment?
Pace yourself. Whatever you are feeling, anger, sadness, or even inspiration (yes inspiration) you will have to pace yourself. It is going to take weeks to get to a place that you are even getting call backs for interviews. You could go out and apply at McDonalds and it will still take time to get a job. You need to be gentle with yourself and yet still demand that you do something everyday. Some days it will be an accomplishment to just get out of bed and do the dishes. But be gentle if one or even two days go by and the dishes don’t get done. Be very watchful for signs of depression. Depression can sneak in where you least expect it. I have a great husband who can gently let me know if I am slipping into a bad place and he can encourage me. This has been crucial to my surviving this ordeal with any shred of sanity.
3. What kind of fundamental changes to your character or your outlook have occurred as a result of this situation?
I have looked long and hard at what brought me to this point. I mean I have looked not just at this job and what happened to me, I have looked at my life over the past decade or so. I have tried to warmly embrace my faults and find my points of strength. I have meditated. I have leaned into my spiritual life a lot more than before. Prayer, meditation, and self reflection have been as much a part of my day as eating and showering. I have thought about what I really want in my life. What I want to do as well as who I want to be. What I have found is that, whatever my career brings, I want to live my life by making my own choices instead of being reactionary to the next crisis that comes around. I don’t want to just drift to the next problem that has to be endured or overcome. The fundamental change of character is in the way I look outside of myself at my world and how I choose to participate with that world in a more causal way.
4. In your blog, you’ve talked a bit about your emotional experiences over the last few weeks. Can you articulate your emotional/mental state now that you’ve had a little time to process?
Emotions are a B*tch to deal with when you are unemployed. There is a part of you that wants to just sink into despair. You want to berate and blame yourself for every little thing that has ever gone wrong. It takes a very strong will to not let yourself just break apart and fill yourself with bitterness. There is another part of yourself that wants to shift the blame to someone else, preferable the ex employer, or even a spouse, anyone to take the blame for why you are in such a desperate situation. Hold onto your will and faith. It is not a productive approach to try and seek blame on anyone, especially yourself. I can honestly say that I was wrongfully terminated from my position, but I don’t issue blame or hatred to my ex employer or myself. I want to heal and move on from this in such a way that I am prepared for something better to appear in my life. I can’t do that by holding on to blame.
5. What is your game plan moving forward?
My game plan is to keep going. I plan to spend three out of five work week days seeking employment for at least 5 to 6 hours of the day. Why not all 40 hours per week you might ask. I want to give myself time for [#2, #3 and #4.] I have started to go to the track and work out so I keep my body motivated. I am meditating and trying to give some of my now free time to friends and family that may want or need it. I am blogging more to give myself the outward journal type push that can also offer much needed comments in case my perspective gets off balanced or skewed. I also love blogging, because it gives me practice in writing. I hope that somehow what I am going through can be a benefit to someone else, even if it is just as entertainment. I am reading, not to escape, but to find some peace of mind in the midst of all of this. I am also spending time with my loving husband. All of this keeps my plan of ‘keep going’ real and alive. I have put out almost 30 resumes and applications since the 5th. I have gone on two interviews and I hope to go on more in the next week or so. I have hopes for a job that will not just pay the bills, but also give me a sense of job satisfaction and joy. I still have hope.
Don’t forget to check out and follow the rest of Pegahoot’s story here. You’ll be glad you did!