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I've officially been voluntarily unemployed for three weeks now. I spent some time this evening looking over the gameplan I created on an evening like tonight on the eve of my first week without work, and I was happy to see that I've been making steady progress toward finding employment, keeping busy, and reducing expenses. However, these past three weeks haven't been without their challenges.



Triumphs:

  • While I admit that I don't always apply for 3 jobs/day Monday - Friday due to running errands, social engagements, etc., I still have applied for over 40 part- and full-time jobs. Since I found out early in my first week of unemployment that my teaching license was fully renewed, I have been aggressively applying for teaching jobs. While the application process for a school district is quite tedious, the good news is that once I complete an application, applying for a new opening that pops up in the district is a cinch. New jobs have been popping up every day, so I continue to apply in the hopes that I'll break through the tough competition and get a teaching job for the new school year. However, I still have the option of short- or long-term substitute teaching, a fact that I'm very grateful for.
  • I decided that I want to pursue a K-12 reading license, and have the opportunity, if I take 5 credits (2 classes) the next three semesters, to be nearly endorsed by the start of the following school year. This should help my marketability, as I've seen a lot of literacy coach/specialist positions throughout the Twin Cities. I also should be able, if I keep being savvy with my money, to pay for it out of pocket and thus not accrue any debt.
  • At the end of my second week of unemployment, I had a job interview at the school I taught at for three years before working at Hamline. While I ultimately did not get the job, I did learn that I interviewed strongly and that my references were solid. The principal told me that if I continue to interview the way I did, with the references I have, I should be able to get a job. So, the fact that I got an interview relatively quickly and positive feedback definitely lifted my spirits.
  • I've run 3 times/week in preparation for my 10K on October 30. The plan currently has had me run between 2-3 miles each time. I turned the 3 mile runs into 5Ks (3.11 miles), and have worked to set new PRs every time with success. My Garmin Forerunner 305 watch has been a fabulous training tool. I've used it for interval training (e.g. 5 minutes running, 1 minute walking) and monitoring my heart rate. This week, I have a 4 mile run that I'll likely tackle with the interval training with a goal time in mind to help keep my pace steady. I feel better the mornings I start my day by running, so I'm glad I set this goal.
  • Having limited "fun money" has actually been quite a fun experiment. I haven't really felt deprived at all, and it's challenged me to find ways of having fun at a discount, or if I'm lucky, free. Since the challenge has started, I've treated myself to new books and music through visits to the library (finishing 3 books within the past 3 weeks as well!), saw a free screening of a movie through learning about free passes through "365 Things to Do in the Twin Cities" on Facebook, and made plans to see the Beatles exhibit at the Minnesota History Center for free (saving $10/person) by researching the option for free admission on Tuesday nights from 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm! I participated in a movie study through Fieldwork Minneapolis last week and earned $30 cash (and 2 free movie passes -- future free outing!), which I'll use as a cushion this week as I head to the State Fair and to the Taste of Madison over Labor Day. My spending will still be restricted, but I'll definitely have much more flexibility this way.

Challenges:

  • Job searching full-time can be a bit lonesome. With Matt back at work during the daytime, I have a lot more time to myself than I've been used to for years. It can get isolating, and sometimes my mood takes a dip as a result. However, it's also forced me to reach out to friends more often, so in a way, it might ultimately help my social life and strengthen friendships.
  • Being alone and sometimes without distractions causes me to stare at my phone more often, willing it to ring. While I didn't expect an interview so soon, I'm a little drunk with the anticipation of the next phone call inviting me to an interview. It's always been hard for me to not take lack of action in job searches personally, and I keep reminding myself that the market is tough. I also keep reminding myself that substitute teaching may be how I'll make most of my income this next year. I remind myself that substitute teaching will help me network in new school districts, which ultimately helped me get the teaching position I held for three years.
  • Sugar cravings, which typically run more rampant during times of higher stress for me, have been more prominent. While I've been having desserts more frequently lately, I've worked to try to have healthy options or smaller portions. My new favorite treat is Kemps frozen yogurt sandwiches. They're about half the size of a traditional ice cream sandwich, but only 80 calories each. Oddly enough, I tend to crave the treats less on the days I run, so it's encouraging me to be active even on my off days. Double the benefit!



      Writing this down is helpful. It helps me document my successes, acknowledge my struggles, and remain optimistic for the future. The worst thing I can do right now is to get discouraged and depressed, and I don't want that to happen.

      And so, as I head into week four, my fingers continue to be tightly crossed.

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