December 15, 2008

The unemployment rate is at 6.7%.  If you have not been laid off or prepared for being laid off soon, then someone you know has been laid off or is preparing to be laid off.  This is a very uncertain time for Americans.  I would like to share with you about my current situation and close with some of my unemployment goals.


My current situation


All of my contracts, except for one unpaid contract for a new Kenyan education foundation, have closed.  They are closed indefinitely, and I am not receiving any income from work that I do.  All of my new contracts are on hold…until Q1 2009, or in reality, rather, indefinitely.


I started my own business as a Digital Marketing Consultant/Analyst in June 2007.  I started my business to respond to a market demand from small businesses and starts ups who wanted a stronger online presence.  Starting my own business has been the fastest way to develop myself professional.  I have learned so much about starting a business in California.  I have learned about general ledger entries, financial statements, paying my own taxes, contract negotiation, and many more skills.  I love the stimulation, the challenge, and the variety.


I offer my clients online marketing experience, success, translation, and project implemenation.  My skills transcend digital marketing into traditional marketing and I have an expert speciality in measuing website performance and in reporting website progress to C-level executives and directors alike.


This is definitely a dire economy in which to continue my consulting business and an to consider my next step into management consulting as a digital marketing consultant.  But I remain pleasantly optimistic because there is no evidence about the outcome, whether positive or negative, of this current recession.


Lastly, on my current situation, I am dipping into my savings, and supplimenting a couple hundred dollars a month with various trickles of cash here and there (selling my old possessions and online surveys).  Anyone considering self-employment should always create an emergency fund worth 8-12 months worth of living expenses.  Through regular, manageable direct deposits during months of surplus in 2007 and 2008, I contributed to my emergency fund.  I use INGDirect.com for my emergency fund, and I love it.  There is absoluting NOTHING wrong INGDirect in my opinion.  Thankfully, I have this fund to use for tough times like these when I’m prospecting for new business–any business–which some in consulting call “being on the beach” or “being on the bench.”


My unemployment goals


1. Stay positive


Why: Because no one is certain of the outcome of this current recession, so it is better to expect the best everyday.  Also, not to sound narciscitc, but if I’m going to be unemployed and if I’m going to have the time NOT in a cubicle, I’m going to be the sanest, healthiest and fitest unemployed person I can be!


How: Begin everyday with a prayer, workout, shower, and good breakfast.  Start a blog to chronicle my journey and to keep me accountable.


2. Stay Frugal


Why: Because I worked hard for my money which I’m extracting from my emergency fund, and I will not squander it away.  For more on the “why”, there any many wonderful blogs which explain the importance of frugality and how to implement reasonable frugal methods into your life.  I love Ramit Sethi’s blog called I will teach you to be rich, which has many tips on making more money and saving money.


How: Sell things on secondary markets (used items on half.com, ebay.com, and Amazon Marketplace), eat meals from home, and only buying necessities.


3. Apply for one job per day AND speak with one person per day about job opportunities


Why: Because anymore than one job per day (5 per week), and I may go bonkers.  I can apply for five in one day, and experience burnout from cover letter-itis.  This allows me to average my applications by day.  Also, right now, we’re approaching the holidays, and companies are not likely to follow up with applications until January.  At that point I will increase my application rate.


How: I have profiles, job matching, and job recruiting services through the following sites Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, Premier Staffing, Robert Half International, The Resource Corner, and Google.  I have great resumes and drafts of cover letters which I send out to friends and family regularly along with text from job descriptions I’ve found online and which I find to be an ideal match for my skills and enthusiasm.  I will also continue to use MeetUp.com and my current networks to meet new people.


4. Continue to Develop myself professional


Why: Because it’s so easy to fall into depressed moods and to experience lethergy without a full time job and regular paycheck.


How: I will use a two prong approach.


1. Read every book on career development, my particular industry, my ideal industry, and all relavent news online.  Write reviews on my blog so I can retain and recall what I’ve read.

2. Study for the GMAT and prepare to take it again in 2009.  My reach goal is to score an 800 and my realistic goal is to score above 700.  I bombed this exam on my first attempt, but I will score well the second time around because I promised myself that I will go to a top 10 business school in the Fall of 2010.


5. Do something FUN everyday


Why: Because my mom said so.  When I’m especially down, she tells me to take it easy, take a nap, and do something fun–this is a particular challenge to me because I feel like I should be using every second to finding gainful employment.  To reiterate, it’s so easy to be in a depressed mood without discretionary income to spend, a full time occupation, and everyone else is working all day.  It is critical to self-esteem to do something fun, that brings pleasure, everyday.


How: Make a list of free things to do and schedule them into my days.  I will most likely use outlook appointments to remind myself of my fun time.  Sunday nights I usually spend updating my schedule for the week and making lists of things I would like to accomplish before 4pm on Friday.  Some fun items include:


1. Water colors (from supplies I already have in my possession)

2. Finishing a loose end task that I would have previously paid for (cleaning, mending, ironing, etc)

3. Writing

4. Reading5. Visiting museums on free days

6. Volunteering

7. Going to a new cafe

8. Enjoying a home cooked meal and a glass of wine with my boyfriend

9. Visiting with friends

10. Using my time to help others in my network

11. Finding old items I own and using them again (tennis racket, Viola, craft supplies)

12. Practice, refine older skills (French, Swahili, Wolof, and singing)


Next Steps


I will keep track of my goals on this blog.  I plan to figure out the best way to write and to report my progress in the next few entries.


Looking for more “Top Lists” while unemployed?  Here are some great lists:


1. On Listverse

2. On TopTen.org

This one is my favorite because it recommends an action plan and it catching up on sleep.

3. On Hifidel.blogspot.com

This one is humorous

4. On Ouchh.com

5. On DumbLittleMan

Overall a great blog for all “top” lists from people to productivity