Today Won’t Be the Day That Changes Everything

Photo by Phil Venditti

Today could be the day that changes everything.

That was how I felt almost every single day while I was unemployed a few years back. The next big opportunity was only one phone call, one email or one text message away. I was on high alert and had my phone and computer ready to respond. Yet I rarely did anything that could effect that change. I sat and waited, expecting someone else to come along and hire me. Shouldn’t the world stumble upon my LinkedIn page or my prodigious social media output and recognize my genius?

The result of this skewed perception was about what you’d expect. Crickets. A big pile of nothing. Nobody called. Nobody emailed. Nobody texted….

…unless I reached out first and made something happen. Yes, the only results I got stemmed from actions I took. All that waiting, all that well-orchestrated high alert status was only busyness masked as movement creating nothing but stress and anxiety. There are no white knights, no heroes, no saviors. I must be the hero in my own movie. Only I can change the ending.

My magical thinking was a distracting narcotic, a balm to ease the pain of uncertainty and unemployment. Today could be the day. But it never was. It was only a diversion from the massive, looming problem that was going to drag me under unless I got off my procrastinating ass and did something.

It took me months to understand the need to keep moving, keep acting, cut the nonsense, focus and make things happen.

Here is the secret it took me so long to learn. Nobody gives a damn about me. Yes, I have many people who love me, but it is up to me to save myself and create the life I want. I get to choose whether I want to be the villain or the hero.

Inaction is an action. Inaction is the fast lane to victimhood and unhappiness. If you want to wait forever for life to happen give inaction a shot.

Action begets action. Action may result in failure. but inaction guarantees it.  I can create my future, but I must act now. And act again tomorrow. And the next day. And so on.

This is the decision I must make every day.  Move forward, get pushed back and begin again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Today won’t be the day that changes everything…unless I make the changes.

Weekly Roundup: Fighting Back Against Long-Term Unemployment

looking for a job image

Long-term unemployment is devastating, slowly crushing the job seeker on many levels. The physical, psychological and financial tolls are steep and dramatic. While the number of US long-term jobless has dropped from nearly 4.5 million a year ago to just over 3 million today, the impact on those not working is still frightening

I wrote about how to stay positive and keep your job search on track here at AOL Jobs.

Weekly Roundup: Getting Fired & Getting Back In The Game

aol jobs getting fired image

Chances are you will get fired at some point in your career. Call it laid off, terminated, restructured or downsized. Whatever you want to call it, it means you no longer have a job and must face the painful emotional and financial challenges. The impact can be devastating if you allow it, but there are ways to mitigate the difficulty. I wrote about getting fired and getting back to work at AOL Jobs.

The Weekly Countdown: 5 Articles All Job Seekers Should Read (Week 3)

Five fingers for AOL Jobs
Week 3 of a new column I am writing for AOL Jobs. Five awesome pieces of career advice I read this week.

What’s New In What Color Is Your Parachute?

What Color is Your Parachute 2014
Still Looking Good After 44 Years

Is the definitive book on job search still relevant in 2014? I wrote about Richard N. Bolles’ iconic book on job search and career change for AOL Jobs

Navigating the Waters of Freelance and Contract Work

Maybe you’ve got your heart set on a full time staff job. Maybe you want to pick up right where you left off with an office, year-end bonus, health care and retirement benefits. Fingers crossed, you wind up with everything on your wish list. But how will you pay the bills and keep your skills active and growing in the meantime?

Here’s something I wrote for AOL Jobs about how to make a living while searching for your dream job

‘My Daddy Got Fired’ – Talking To Kids About Job Loss

“My daddy got fired.”

I flinched a little when I heard those words blurted out by my then-five year old daughter to a random barista at a coffee shop. Ouch!

Here’s something I wrote about talking to your kids about unemployment for AOL Jobs.

Fighting the Unemployment Blues

Keep moving and follow these steps on your jobseeking journey. Here’s something I wrote for AOL jobs.

Apps To Supercharge Your Job Search

Conduct an expert job search from your smartphone. Here’s something I wrote for AOL Jobs about making your job search mobile first.

You’re Fired! Seven Steps to Survive Unemployment

Fired. Downsized. Laid off. Restructured. Not sure what else the kids are calling it these days, but it happens to everyone at some point in their career. It happened to me and I found seven steps that have made the transition easier and (almost) enjoyable.

1 Don’t take it personally
This is the toughest step. You will probably need to focus on acceptance on a daily basis at first. It may have been politics, performance, economics, or something else, but the reason you no longer have a job is irrelevant. You are now unemployed. Yes, you will grapple with anger, shame, fear, denial and sadness. This emotional cycle is crippling. Let it go. It isn’t good or bad. It just is. The sooner you remove the emotion, the sooner you will free yourself to take on the next challenge.

2 Be Prepared
Update your resume. Complete your LinkedIn profile. Get business cards. Sharpen your job pitch. Treat your search like a job. If your former employer took back your technology, get a new phone, laptop, iPad, blackberry or whatever works for you. Your new workspace will likely be the local coffee shop, so make sure you have what you need to function as a mobile office.

3 Call/write/contact everyone you know
If you are not a natural networker this is hard. Think of it as an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and coworkers. Go through your address book and reach out to everyone. Those first emails and phone calls are painful. Set a goal every day and stick to it. Write 5 emails. Make 5 phone calls. It is a numbers game and the more contacts you make the more opportunities you will uncover. Plus, you won’t find a job online. You will likely find it through your extended network. Your contacts are one of your biggest assets.

4 Don’t take it personally, Part 2
You will get blown off by a lot of people. Job search can be a daily beatdown of unanswered emails, unreturned phone calls and cancelled meetings. Yes, even your friends and colleagues will ignore you. Your timeline isn’t the world’s timeline. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Keep reaching out. Follow up. Ignore the bad and focus on the good. The best part of this process is discovering how amazing some people are. You will be touched by their kindness and make some great new friends along the way.

5 Get Up. Get Dressed. Get Out
Do not stay at home. Staying home is a giant time suck, plus you will wind up talking to yourself. Get up and out. Dress like you are going to work. Create a rhythm and a daily routine. Your time is yours, but use it wisely. This is your new job until you find a job.

6 Keep learning
Take classes. Sharpen your skills. Go to conferences. There are tons of great free webinars and online classes. Keep up on what’s happening in your business. Work your social media profiles. Job search is a full-time job and consider this on the job training. Try to get a little smarter every day.

7 Enjoy the Time
This is tough too, but critical to the process. The anxiety and uncertainty of unemployment hinders the ability to appreciate the gift of not working. Yes, it is a gift. You will find another job and you will work long days and get caught up in the challenges, stresses, demands and politics of that job. So enjoy this time to reevaluate, reinvent and recharge your life and career. Take time to enjoy every day. Go for walks. Hit some museums. Spend extra time with your family. Do the things you never had time for when you were working.

I hope these help anyone who is looking for work and I would love to hear your ideas on surviving job loss and unemployment.