Right now, none of our lives reflect what we’d planned for ourselves at the beginning of the year. Some of us are still facing professional uncertainty after months of unemployment; some are still living on a bare-bones budget after losing an income stream; some are still waiting to put their major plans back in motion. This month, we’re exploring the theme of endurance, how to sit with that stillness and identify small changes we can make to improve our immediate reality — because simply getting through each new day is a triumph.
A few months ago, I was feeling down after being freshly laid off. While there was initial shock and panic, it quickly subsided as I remembered all of the things I’m so lucky to still have in my life.
Here’s a short list of the things that have kept me sane through an uncertain time after being laid off:
1. Having a supportive network.
Immediately after being let go, I started reaching out. An old boss put me up for a position with the group that’d acquired Startup #2. A few old coworkers hyped me up to their partners’ or their own companies. One found 162 roles in his company and sent them my way that morning. I felt loved and appreciated, and like I wasn’t in an unemployment void. A new hope was acquired.
2. Having worked for the company.
Since starting at my last company, I was able to make genuine friends out of the sea of coworkers, and I’m so thankful for that. These are people that I know will remain in my life, possibly indefinitely, and that’s an amazing thing to gain from a place of work. I was also able to learn new tools and processes, pick up a better understanding of the real estate world, and fill in a bit more of my travel map through company-paid business trips!
3. Having a padded emergency fund.
The last time I was laid off, I felt nervous about the big obvious elephant in the room: money. I’d squirreled away 1-2 months of expenses, but didn’t know how long a potential job search may take, and felt the pressure of “oh god the holidays.”
This time around, I have a much better sense of security. I’ve been saving up for another home purchase, and kept a good amount of that fund liquid alongside a more traditional emergency fund. Now, instead of panicking about whether I’ll be able to afford my rent and groceries next month, I could take the time to make sure I chose the right next fit. That peace of mind is incredibly impactful.
4. Having multiple income streams.
This. Is. So. Helpful. Two years ago, I was occasionally side-hustling my way through the odd freelance job, selling prints on Etsy, and babysitting, among other things. Each of these was great, but none of them were consistent. It was a couple gigs here and there, and part of the work was just finding them.
Nowadays, I have a few income streams on autopilot:
- Hosting pub trivia nights, which usually generates around $200-500/mo, depending on how many games I host.
- Renting my home, which brings in a cool $1,675/mo.
- My website and freelance writing, which generate anywhere from $50-400/mo, depending on revenue from affiliate links, partnerships, and paid articles for other publishers.
- Dividends, which average out to roughly $185/mo. Woo, completely passive income!
Depending on the effort I put into the site and trivia nights, that adds up to $2,110-2,760/mo before taxes. Not too shabby! And not only do these provide a solid extra buffer and cover most (if not all) of my necessary expenses, they offer some self-confidence.
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you have no value, and as someone who’s fallen into the trap of defining myself through work, it can feel like suddenly you’re stripped of an identity. Sure, I may not be a gainfully employed recruiter right then and there, but I am a pub quiz hostess, a writer, an entrepreneur, and a somewhat savvy investor. Panic not, concerned family — your girl is going to be alright!
5. My relationship with my family and close friends.
Speaking of, I’m so thankful to have my family in my corner. Literally less than two hours after I was laid off, my sister came over for a movie, Chardonnay, and some good old fashioned job searching. The next night, I was ready to host my weekly dinner with the grandparents. My aunt reached out to extend her love and offer to help find me work with her. My mom has been my gut-check on all things unemployment along with the new job search. My dad offered to be a second set of eyes on the separation agreement my company had provided.
And that same weekend, I got to spend time with all of my favorite people, sitting around a fireplace with hot cider (in LA’s chilly 63-degree winter) and reading the Die Hard illustrated holiday storybook. Yes, that’s a thing. And it rhymes. I’m so thankful that everyone I care about took the time to rally behind me. It means a lot. I love you all.
It’s never easy going from I have a job to I don’t have a job, especially when it’s entirely out of your control. But it’s important not to lose sight of what you do have. Focusing on these things has made the chaos of unemployment actually… not that bad. Two years ago, I didn’t have all of the cushion and extra income streams, but I still had my experience, my family and friends, and the benefit of a strong professional network. I was lucky then. I’m even luckier now. Job or no job, we’ll be alright.
This article originally appeared on January 11, 2019.
Tis is a 20-something recruiter, startup enthusiast, finance blogger, and proud feminist-slash-crazy cat lady. Find her on Twitter or check out the blog for lifehacks and musings on personal finance, professional growth, and enjoying the journey to early retirement.
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