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The Unemployment Diaries #1: The Gameplan

My last day at Hamline was Friday. It was bittersweet. In some respects, I was very sad. I didn't want to quit, but felt I couldn't achieve my professional goals in the role I was stuck in. Rather than feeling helpless, I took charge and decided to remove myself from a dead-end situation. I also was sad knowing that I was not only leaving colleagues I've grown to value and respect, but that I was leaving some in a bind as they were left with covering my work until a replacement was found. It's tough feeling selfish even when you know it's in your own best personal interests.

In other respects, I felt empowered. Spending almost a year feeling out of control in my work life, I finally took charge and let myself believe that I not only didn't deserve to be in such a situation, but that I didn't have to be. Not only had I been saving up money to prepare for such a decision, but I had the emotional and financial support from my amazing fiance. This time to focus on finding a job that is better suited to my talents and strengths is truly a gift, and I don't plan to waste it.

If there's one thing I've learned about myself, it's that I need structure. Therefore, I've been brainstorming several ways to put structure in my life during a time that is devoid of it. This structure will come in a variety of forms:

1. Job Searching. I've set a goal for myself that every day I actively job search (Monday - Friday, with the exception of pre-planned days off such as my camping trip Thursday - Sunday this upcoming week), I will apply for a minimum of 3 jobs. This aggressive pace will help increase my chances of getting interviews, as I truly believe that job searching is a numbers game. The more applications I put out there, the better my chances will be.

2. Fitness. Much of my work woes this past year were channeled into physical activity. I have walked, run, strength trained, taken pilates classes, and/or taken zumba classes in order to not only lose weight, but to stay sane. Therefore, I signed up for a 10K this evening and found a 12-week training plan that I will start tomorrow and will lead me right to race day. I did 3 5Ks last year, and I am confident that with a structured running regime, I can run a 10K as well. I'm really excited about it!

3. Cooking. I've been cooking more off and on for Matt and me as our schedules permit, and I'm looking forward to cooking on a more regular basis. Not only will it help with continued weight loss (I'd love to see if I can lose another 12 - 17 pounds), but it'll help me/us save money. In a time where we'll be having only one income coming in, I feel this is more important than ever. Matt just thinks it's sweet that I enjoy planning our meals and cooking them. :)

4. Fun Money. Tomorrow, I plan to go to the bank to withdraw my fun money budget for the next 5 weeks. I have an aggressive plan of limiting myself to only $25 of fun money spending a week. This does not include essentials like gas and other monthly bills, which I can depend on savings to cover. This budget includes things like going to the coffee shop, going out to eat, seeing a movie, etc. All of those things aren't things I need, so I just need to do them more in moderation to conserve my money. I'm admittedly pretty excited about this goal, as I think it will challenge me to be creative about how I spend my time and money. I can see myself doing things like walking/running to the library to check out books and CDs (which also helping with my fitness goals and saving on gas) to get out of the house and not spend any money. Since I paid the $25 fee for the 10K race tonight, I will take $5 out of my budget for the next 5 weeks, meaning I have $20 each week over these next 5 weeks to spend. Any money I don't spend from one week can be moved to the following week.

5. Volunteering. I've accepted that it may take 6-8 weeks before I even get an interview. Therefore, I am open to the idea of doing some volunteering to help get myself out of the house and to also boost my resume. Since I am working toward a Master of Nonprofit Management degree, volunteering will help me do some important networking while also doing something for the community. I plan to give myself a few weeks before I pursue this in the spirit of optimism.

I'm excited to see what the future has in store, and I think I have the structures in place to keep me sane and the flexibility to give me the freedom I need to enjoy myself a little bit during this transitional period. I'll keep you all posted on my progress!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 9th, 2010 01:27 pm (UTC)
Hi Rachel,

I just want to say that I am very impressed with your gameplan. It shows that you are truly ready (as ready as one can probably ever be for not having a job) because you have clearly defined goals and timelines. I think you'll do well and stay productive.

Also, just wanted to note that you can get movies at the library. Now, I know that its hard to get the ones you really want a lot of the time, but you can go online and request newer releases. Also, at our library, they rent new releases for only 50 cents a day. While you probably don't want to be sitting around watching a lot of movies, it may make a cheap date night at home!

I look forward to hearing more about your adventure!

Heather Steiner
Aug. 9th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Gameplan
Thanks for the encouragement, Heather! Even if I'm not seeing results (aka getting called for interviews), if I'm at least achieving my daily goals, then I know that I'm still actively and conscientiously working toward finding a new job.

I do know that I can get movies at the library. Admittedly, I don't watch too many movies, so I haven't explored that option yet. I like to watch TV shows through Netflix instantly because they're shorter spurts of distraction. I'll probably watch an episode here and there when I need a break from job applications, but may have to explore movies at the library in the future! :)
Aug. 9th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
You want to become my life coach. Seriously....I wish I had it as together as you did. You are definitely someone to look up to.

Allison McKenzie
Aug. 10th, 2010 01:05 am (UTC)
Aww...Allison, you are too sweet.

Is there something you are hoping to work toward that I can perhaps give you some advice on? Let me know if you want to get together to talk about developing a plan of action. (Of course, I'm using this as an excuse for us to get together sometime soon!)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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