When someone asks me to explain my vision for Six Things, I explain this blog as an interview in reverse. I start with the six things that the subject (contributor) really wants us to know about his or her situation, vocation, or avocation, and then I ask for more context. So, you tell me that “what,” and I will ask you the “how” and the “why.” It’s not too complicated, right?
But I am going to attempt to reverse-interview myself about my current situation. You see, I was just told, two weeks ago (to the day, in fact), that after almost 29 years with the same company – through acquisitions and promotions – my position was being eliminated. I have had a regular job since I was 12 years old. At one time, while in college, I had three jobs. I have never been unemployed, fired, made redundant, or s**t-canned. So, there are six things I want you to know about my predicament.
Number 1: I think I am going through something similar to the seven stages of grief.
I think I am in the anger stage at this time. I do have a bit of a temper, but I’m not in the traditional anger stage where things are sent flying toward walls at great speed. I am in a state of disbelief over how it happened to me. Uh-oh: It looks like I may have swung back to denial for a bit. I did spend very little time on the bargaining stage: that’s just a waste of time.
Number 2: As much as I’d love to dwell on negatives, I don’t need that in my life right now.
I briefly felt like a failure. Briefly.
It’s times like these that you must summon-up every ounce of inner strength you have. I am relying on no one but me to get past any self-doubt that I may want to wallow in and get busy networking, working contacts, and learning new skills that will help me move on. Keeping busy and scoring big wins is the perfect antidote for feeling like a failure. Not gonna happen! If I feel myself slipping into self-pity, I have to redirect that energy into something productive.
Number 3: I am keeping my workday routine as normal as possible.
Before “this” happened, I went to the gym four to five days each week. I am still getting up at 5:15 A.M. and going to boot camp or I am training in the afternoon. I volunteered at a museum on the weekends, and I will continue to do so. Getting out means socializing, networking, and putting yourself out there. If you disrupt your routine at a time like this, it will send a cascade of negative effects throughout your life. It’s important to say focused and healthy and to maintain calm and focus.
I am keeping regular work hours during this time. I am rustling up contract work, networking, writing proposals, practicing my creative and technical writing, and working on my samples portfolio. Most importantly, I am taking courses that I started but never had time to finish while I had my corporate job.
I am thanking my lucky stars for all of the contacts I’ve maintained over the years, and for not practicing the fine art of bridge-burning. It’s serving me well at this stage of my life.
Number 4: I am quite busy.
Looking for work is a full-time job. Although my résumé was mostly up to date, I had to revise it for freelance work, which means “writing all kinds of stuff.” I went out on a limb with my rewrite (because what have I got to lose?) and took a lighter, less-serious tone. I added a second page, a big fat no-no in some circles, which contains special projects, skills, and tools I have learned and used throughout my professional life. I showed my reworked CV to an experienced contractor friend, and I received some great, positive feedback. It’s out there, and I’m getting calls, so I believe that I did the right thing.
Number 5: I had to rethink my “brand.”
…Not that I have ever had a “brand,” mind you. This is not easy for someone who is corporately comfortable. Except for sales types, possibly, when you are in the collective, there’s really no reason to stand out. Sure, there are quarterly feedback sessions and end-of-year reviews where atta-girls are exchanged, but personal branding is something way out of the corporate comfort zone.
When you break out on your own, you are one tiny being in a sea teeming with other job-seeking creatures. What do you do to stand out? I’ve been studying up on branding and how important it is for influencer/disruptor types. I’m not really either of those, but I do want to be remembered when someone looks at my online portfolio. I have dubbed myself “The Content Ninja.” It may be overkill, but people remember it, and I’m going to double-down on that moniker for now.
Number 6: I’m going to be fine.
I have a great support system, and I am bucking up to take on this challenge. The more I buck up, the better it will be for me in the long run. This is going to be a challenge, but the better I roll with this, I know the better it will be for me. I am going to slay this thing. If I was not a thing-slayer before, I’m learning how to be now.
It would also help if you could tell your friends and colleagues about this blog. I promise that you will get some interesting insights in the months (and, years, hopefully…) to come.