Wednesday, February 5, 2020

You're Fired...

My name is Chloe, and I am unemployed…

Yeah, those are still tricky words for me. I normally quite like the month of January, it’s kind of like opening the fresh pages of a notebook, but unfortunately for me, I returned to work after the break and was made redundant due to a lack of investment funding. Happy New Year and all that…

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My first thought was job hunting- finding a new role to get stuck into and minimising the amount time left empty on my (now newly brushed up) CV, getting in touch with recruiters and other connections who might be able to help. What I hadn’t reckoned with, is the rollercoaster of things that would spring to mind as the first days turned into a few weeks.

So here’s a few things I’ve learned- the good, the tricky and things that might help if you’re also navigating time between jobs for whatever reason.

Not all redundancy comes with pay….
If you are still in a probationary period as I was, the company are unlikely to be obliged to pay you for any more than the actual days worked and any accrued holiday. It took me a while to work out why people might think I was glad to have been let go from my job, until I realised that most people assume that all redundancies come with a big payout and lots of paid time off.

There are a million things you could use all this new found time for…
But you might not want to do any one of them.
And that’s ok.

But it is good to have an action plan…
A wise person once said to me of another set of life issues ‘treat it like a training plan’. In that moment, I wondered why I’d never made the connection between the joy I take in laying out and scheduling a training plan for running, and how I approach most things in my life. And so it is that my planner doesn’t, at first glance, look any different to when I was working full time. It might not be planning meetings or reports filling my time as it once was, but allocating time to not just job searches, but keeping active, keeping in touch with friends, researching new opportunities and also getting some ahead on some of the house renovation jobs that have been taking up for more of the weekend than I’d like.
Ticking things off and keeping some semblance of routine to the days and weeks helps me maintain a sense of direction and purpose, and stops me dwelling too hard on less positive times.

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Self-care comes in many forms…
And for me it was creating a financial plan as well as an action plan. It might not be quite the IG-friendly image of pretty candles in a glorious bathroom (this makes me laugh a bit because my bathroom dates to 1979… no… really…) but instead it might be a case of combing through regular outgoings to see if any need trimming, re-activating a Monzo account and setting up regular payment from my main account to it, to keep a closer eye on those £5.60 a time travel charges. You can’t read a book whilst riding a bike, but cycling to/from zone 1 doesn't cost £5.60. Feeling in control of my finances whilst facing some uncertainty has been a key factor in maintaining a positive outlook at a tricky time.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch…
But there are lots of options when it comes to keeping active for free. If classes are your thing then organisations like Our Parks offer free classes in local parks, Let’s Ride by British Cycling (which includes the Breeze network for women’s only) offers free bike rides all over the country with qualified Ride Leaders, British Athletics have a number of beginner initiatives for runners and if you are based in London, there are a number of free run clubs as well as promotions on trial classes- I’ve been running with Adidas Runners London for over a year which is free, gives me a reason to leave the house and to see friends and has introduced me to other opportunities like classes and events along the way.

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2020 hasn’t started in the blaze of glory I had hoped, it’s true. It hasn’t been easy, but another wise person also reminded me that time is a gift. I’ve been able to book appointments that are normally minor scheduling miracles and often end up overdue (dental check-up, I’m looking at you….), I’ve been able to see and support friends I wouldn’t normally be able to around my office hours, and to get creative with problem solving and the opportunities in the world.

I’ve never been known for my happy sunshine smiley positivity, but I have come to appreciate over the last couple of years the power of finding silver linings and finding solutions. It’s helped me overcome a whole host of challenges, and made sure I’ve not pushed away those people I’m lucky enough to be supported by.

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