I'm Unemployed & Coming Out The Closet
As of last Friday, I am officially unemployed with no new job to go to. Are you panicking for me? Because I’m not.
I’m smirking as I write this post that has been months in the making while sipping on a cup of calming ginger tea. My heart is beating loudly as if playing out a scene in The Tell-Tale Heart, but it’s at the excitement of what is to come in the next few months. Life is beautiful, and for just this week, I took the time to stop and enjoy being alive and happy.
If you recall I resigned from one job over a year ago to take another job with a different employer. The new job was in the field of Human Resources, something that I had wanted to do my entire career. When the opportunity presented itself, I was hesitant at moving because I liked my previous employer a lot. But, after speaking with my better half, I was convinced to get over my reservations and accept my dream job.
Within two weeks of joining the new company I knew that I had made a terrible mistake. My job? Oh, that part was easy . The office and company? That was the issue. But, I’m nothing if not positive, so I decided that I would give the new job at least six months of observation before making a decision on leaving or going.
In the meantime, I negotiated new deals, made lots of innovations and improvements and got to know the company and my colleagues. At the six month mark I called the VP of HR and told him that although I did not have another job, I was ready to resign and wanted to give him the courtesy of knowing before I told my immediate manager. I also wanted to give him my analysis of the issues that existed within the department and why they were experiencing retention problems. What followed was a 2 hour discussion on the company’s pain points and areas for improvement. He asked me to give the company at least another six months because he too was relatively new to the company and has been working on implementing some changes and improvements. Sensing that he was sincere, I agreed to stay.
Honestly though, I knew that it was not working but decided to stay until a project that I was an integral part of was completed. In the meantime, I had a few great job offers which I ultimately turned down. One position would have been soul fulfilling, but would have left me struggling financially. Had I taken that offer I know that eventually it would be a J-O-B…as in something leaving me Just Over Broke. I couldn’t do that to my family. The other just didn’t grab me.
I was in the process of deciding what to do when the Financial Samurai came out with his eBook How To Engineer Your Layoff. His article entitled, Don’t Get Fired Or Quit, Get Laid Off Instead really hit home for me. After thoroughly reading, re-reading and reviewing New York State employment statutes, I resolved to get laid off. I dubbed it OPERATION FREEDOM. I decided to automate my job as much as humanly possible, especially since this particular company had been doing things in an old, antiquated fashion when I first joined. I put in countless extra hours moving much of the HR systems into the 21st century which meant that my role wouldn’t really require a full-time person sitting in the office all day every day. [Edit: For those of you thinking that I slacked off, I did quite the opposite. I put in 12-14 hour days on top of my 3 hour daily commute then brought my laptop home to work from home for months! My family was kind of pissed off about that.]
For the past three months I was basically doing my boss’ job (he didn’t seem to mind) while I slowly cleaned out my desk, created an alternate voice mail for when I was laid off, created an autoresponder for my e-mail for when I would no longer be there, archives things that they wouldn’t need and wrote instructions on how to do things that they would need. Then, I waited. And waited. And waited.
Finally, I could feel the air around me changing. I knew that my time would be coming soon. When it felt like the anxiousness around me was reaching a crescendo, I figured that my last day would be last Friday. I called up some friends to have a celebratory liquid layoff lunch with me that day. A few thought that I was being paranoid, but I knew that I was right. One friend asked me what I would do if they didn’t lay me off that day and I pretty much said that I would have to suck it up and take the Monday off because the waiting was killing me. I was so mentally checked out that I could not survive another day in the office.
Lo and behold, it as my last day! The most interesting thing was that my former EMPLOYER was shocked, shocked I say, that I knew that I would be laid off. I told them where to find everything, thanked them for the opportunity and was out of the office, smiling and clutching my paperwork with my reference, severance and company paid COBRA as I walked out the door less than 2 minutes after being told that I was being let go because they no longer needed someone to do my job. when I laid out all of my instructions for them to follow and that my e-mail and voicemail were both ready to go, they literally had their mouths open. They didn’t know what hit them. Meanwhile, I felt as if I had won the lottery. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together (ten points to the first person who gets that 1980′s reference)? Oh, and the VP who asked me to wait it out? He had left the company exactly one month before my own exit.
SIDEBAR: Is this getting too long? Is it too much to read? Take a break. Get a piece of fruit and come back. I can wait for you.
Okay, so now I’m unemployed. What will I do next?
The first thing that I did was begin looking at vacation packages to take a much needed vacation. Because I knew that I did not plan on staying with the company, I never took time off, except for when I was in that car accident last summer. Plus, I haven’t seen my grandmother and father for a few years so I can kill two birds with one stone.
But really, what am I going to do? Here’s the thing; I’m not exactly sure. I’m a planner and a doer and for the first time in my life, I don’t have a plan laid out. While I am still the sole breadwinner for my family, I’ve been working hard over the past three years or so to not let my employer be my sole source of income. I’ve told you guys multiple times that you should always have a Plan B and a Plan C or a side hustle. I’ve told you again and again to look at multiple ways to make money outside of your jobs. I’ve even told you to exploit your talents because someone is willing to pay for your skills. And you know what? I’ve taken my own advice.
Every month for the past four years I’ve shared my debt reduction progress with you and for the past two years I’ve added how much money I’ve made via this blog to those reports as well. Some months have been better than others depending on how much time I’ve had to devote to the blog. Honestly, I’ve had very little time to spend on this blog and my blogging income reflected that. Where I would regularly make at least $1,000, the blog’s income fell down to under $500 some months. That’s okay because it wasn’t my main source of income. It was still bonus money as far as I was concerned.
This blog has not lived up to its best potential because it has had a tiny part of me. I’ve turned down multiple requests for interviews, television appearances and writing opportunities with well known companies that you have heard of. I said “no” to these opportunities because I blogged semi-anonymously. Although, I do have to say that a few companies like H&R Block didn’t mind. I have never wanted my employers to be distracted by what I considered to be my hobby. But, since I find this “hobby” to now be an integral part of my decision-making process with regards to what I will do next, I’ve decided to make a decision that I can not turn back from: I’ve decided to come out of the blogging closet.
Let me formally introduce myself. Hi! I’m Sandy, and this is my blog. Well, that’s kind of honest. Legally, my name is not Sandy. You won’t find it on any official documents and it’s not the name by which my former work colleagues would know me. But, Sandy feels more like my name than my official name. It’s the name that I have been known by for my entire life. It’s what my mother, family and friends call me. In fact, I don’t think that most of my family even know my “real” name. I figured that since we’re all family here, you can call me Sandy. Any other name just would not fit.
When I met someone at a conference a few years ago, her first reaction was, “I didn’t know that you were Black.” Yes, that’s what my mother always says too. I kid, I kid. I wasn’t offended because that’s usually the reaction that I get in my professional life as well. Most people just don’t come right out and say it. So let’s chat about that elephant. Yes, I am a delightful shade of chocolate. I’ve never mentioned it because, honestly, it’s never mattered. The subjects that I cover are universal. Fat, thin; tall, short; young, old; gay, straight; male, female; and whatever other point and counterpoint that can be used to separate us has never mattered to me on this blog. It will continue to stay that way.
Would you like to know a bit more about me? I would just as readily have sashimi as I would paella or roast beef. My Japanese accent is as passable as my Spanish accent. My mahjong isn’t bad, but I kick major ass in pinochle and dominoes. I speed read and slow cook. I jam to Linkin Park as often as I do to Jay-Z (best mash-up album ever). I have one of those STEM degrees that everyone is so hot about these days and an MBA that needs the dust blown off sitting on my mom’s wall. I am, in a word, a total nerd.
So, what’s in store for me going forward? That’s a great question! Honestly, I don’t know. Since I planned on retiring from working for anyone else at 40, I still have a number of years to go. I would love to blog full-time, but that is not feasible for me right now. More likely than not, I will work for someone else as I put the finishing touches on my early retirement plans. But, you should look forward to more articles and ideas from me in the upcoming weeks. That’s the plan anyway. If there’s anything that you’d like me to cover, drop me a line! I’m all over my laptop these days. After all, I AM unemployed.