Thursday, January 17, 2013

Free Time - Handling Job Elimination

I'm just now getting into a mindset to sit down and write today. It's been a long and emotional day, even if I only spent about two hours at the office.

Today, I was released from my job, as my position has been eliminated.

This is not a new experience for me. I was part of the "Blizzard 600," as some of us called it, so I'm simply grateful for the opportunity to expand my creativity and pursue greater horizons without having to make the difficult choice - leaving my job.

I have no plans to leave the gaming industry. Right now, I have the wondrous opportunity to apply to the jobs I want rather than immediately need, and I can look into pursuing independent ventures as well. The chance to weight the two against each other without willingly taking the dive on my own is really a blessing in disguise.

In the mean time, I know I'm not the only one out there who's lost their job, losing their job, or going to lose their job. Change is prevalent, and in the ever-volatile gaming industry, unfortunately it's quite frequent. This is my second experience, so I thought I'd share the mental and organizational process I go through when these things happen.

These steps are primarily written from the perspective of someone who has recently become unemployed - but there's definitely advice in here for those who have been unemployed for some time. Take it as you will, and good luck!

Step One: Cry it out. I don't necessarily mean this literally, as some people handle their emotions much better than others. But before you can move on and do anything else, you need to give yourself a mourning period. You may not have loved your job, but it was still an integral part of your life, and as human beings, we naturally resist change. We're habitual creatures, and your habits are about to be altered whether you like it or not. Make sure you're okay with that first before you start making  changes.

Take a short period of time for yourself. Do what's fun or relaxing for you. Give yourself a short vacation. Two to three days, at most a week. Be wary of allowing this to become the norm, however - my current plan is to chill the rest of this week and kick it in gear on Monday, as that's a day when I'm most likely to be productive and it's well seated in my comfort zone.

Step Two: Get organized. Everyone organizes a little differently,  but we all fall into very similar habits when we're left to our own accord. Make sure you reduce and limit distractions. It's very easy for them to overwhelm you and get you distracted. This is the point where I make myself a schedule. I will dedicated X time to job searching, X time to productive projects, and X time for chores, cleaning, working out, etc. Those things will all add up to an 8-10 hour day. Don't let yourself slack just because you don't have a boss looking over your shoulder.

Step Three: Get the mandatory things out of the way. If you haven't already, make sure you've filed for unemployment. It's much easier to have unemployment stopped than it is to get it started, so this should always be the first task you assign yourself. If you have remaining benefits from a severance package, take advantage of them! Go to the doctor, dentist, etc and get checked out! It might be the last time you can afford to do it, so unless you've had your full physical or yearly trip in the last month or so, go now!

Step Four: Assess your situation, and tweak your routine to to fill it. Did you get a severance package? Calculate the bare minimum you will need to survive, and how long the funds you currently have will last you. Now is the time to be frugal and avoid frivolous spending. Cancel extra expenses, like subscription based entertainment. Ignore those Steam sales. It all adds up, and it doesn't matter how cheap it is now if in two months you won't be able to feed or house yourself.

Once you have your numbers, set your goals. Will unemployment carry you through to a better opportunity? If so, maybe now's the time to reach for the stars. If unemployment benefits won't cover your minimum and your funds are stretched too thin, set the job bar a little lower for now. Always be proud of the work you do - showcasing your dedication, skills, and a modest amount of pride can land you that better job.

Step Five: Start your routine, and make sure it includes something to keep your mind active. My preference is working out. I never thought I'd ever say that, but my dear significant other has really turned me on to keeping fit, and there's no time like unemployed time to do it. You can exercise at your own pace, because you don't have to feel rushed to be anywhere, and it is glorious. The one thing I missed most when I went back to work the last time was the freedom to work out when I wanted, for however long I wanted.

If working out isn't your cup of tea, now is the perfect time to spend on that hobby you love. Like building models? Break the paint out! Are you a writer? Start your novel now! Do you like sports? Find a local amateur league and get out there! Cheap entertainment's the best, but it's okay to spend a small amount on yourself. This is the way you'll keep your sanity when you don't have another routine (a job) to depend on. Don't underestimate how important this is.

I don't think I could really offer more advice than this that isn't too specific to my particular personality. Not everything above is going to apply to your situation. I'm fortunate I have a cheap place to live and people in my life who care too much to let me fall too far. Not everyone is blessed with the opportunities, friendships, or support that I have.

But if you do have any of those things, never, ever take them for granted. Don't be afraid to ask for help. The closest of friends will be there for you, even if it's just buying you a beer at your favorite bar and offering the reassuring words we all want to hear in the hardest of times.

It will be alright.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My daughter, I have never been prouder of you as I am now. You sound so mature, the life experiences you have had are hard to overcome for most individuals as the times appear to get harsher. This country use to be able to provide jobs to those with college degrees such as you. I know it is harder, however, you will come out of that rut, I know you will. I am here for you once again and till I die, so, just let me know. Loving you Maria Camel.