The most popular search term that takes people to my blog is “I Want to Die”.
It doesn’t matter what the economic data says, what the stock market does, or how long you’ve been at your company. Every day people are getting fired and it’s fast and swift and unexpected like a stray bullet that hits a 4 year old by accident in a drive-by.
Now it’s an economic drive-by. I see the fallout and the tears every day as we’ve moved from 10% underemployment to over 30% underemployment.
One time I was so broke, and it felt so bad for me, that I wanted to kill myself. I thought my kids would do better with my life insurance policy than with me.
But, as I told my 11 year old many years later, “there’s no painless way to kill yourself”. I’ve done the research. There’s nothing.
I’ve been fired so many times I can’t list them all. I’ve had to reinvent my career when entire industries exploded. Reinvention is a hard and brutal process but it is possible and I describe how I specifically do it in my post, “the ultimate guide to reinventing myself”.
But sometimes the stress is too much and it’s too early to think about following that dream of being a ballerina or an acrobat or a world-famous writer/entrepreneur.
I would pace at three in the morning. “I’m going to lose this house. My kids are going to switch schools. I have three months to live. I’m going to lose this house. I’m going to this and that and this/that.” The chatter doesn’t stop and its nightmarish at three in the morning. And at four, and at five, and it doesn’t stop when the kids wake up and they don’t know anything is different but I cry then because everything is different. Because the house is a prison. Because my head is a mental asylum.
No advice helps. You can’t meditate. You can’t exercise. You can’t eat healthy. You can’t shave. Or bathe. You can’t even take deep breaths. They feel like bullshit breaths. Shit breathes in and shit breathes out. You can’t pray or read spiritual texts. None of that stuff helps, you think. None of that immediately deposits money in the bank. None of that brings back your self-esteem which was so randomly stolen from you by faceless bureaucats living on the outskirts of cubicles.
So here’s advice that helps. I hope you follow it because I know it worked for me:
Do just one thing today.
And then do one thing tomorrow. And the next. That’s all. Just one thing a day. If you do your thing, then feel good. You did it. Tomorrow you do the next thing. THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO DO.
Some preliminaries: First, you need to sleep. Make sure you sleep 8 hours a day, every day. And you can’t drink. Delete your news-intake. You don’t need news now. Things are bad. But they aren’t as bad as they seem. The media lies every day about how bad things are. Trust me.
And then do one solid thing each day.
Here are some possible “one things”:
– Schedule a lunch with someone you haven’t seen in three years. Could be anyone. But it has to be someone you haven’t seen in at least three years. This injects new blood into the system. You need a total transfusion to get rid of the infected old blood.
– Ideas. Find your “customers.” Treat yourself like a one-man business. Make a list of customers (i.e. places or people you might want to work with) Then come up with a list of 10 ideas for each customer/place you might want to work. Ideas that can make them money. This way you keep your idea muscle intact. Don’t let your idea muscle atrophy! Pitch your ideas to that customer if you can. If you can’t , move onto the next customer. But wait until tomorrow. You did your thing for today. Be proud. THIS TECHNIQUE WORKS. Its worked for me.
– Gratitude. Make a list of the people you’ve worked with over the past ten years that you are grateful you worked with. Email them and tell them why you were grateful you worked with them. Ask them sincerely how they are doing. This is one of the most important things on this list.
– Wake up early, exercise, take a shower, wear a suit, go into the city, and walk around. Smell that freshness on you. It makes you feel as if you are ready for anything. And you are. That’s all you need to do that day. Heck, go to a museum. You won’t have this opportunity for freedom forever.
– Slash. Make a list of all expenses you can slash. Make your runway as long as possible. There are plenty of sites to advise how to do this. Picture your worst-worst case scenario. Its never as bad as you think. Write it down. Write down the plan for the worst-case scenario. Then take a nap. You just had a hard day. You need to rest.
– Lunch, part II. Have lunch with one person in your industry. Have your ideas ready for that person. Have him critique your ideas. Learn.
– Reconnect. Contact other people who used to work at your old company. Maybe they even worked there ten years ago. Reconnect. Come up with ideas for them.
You know what a fun thing for me is. Sometimes I go back to my emails from 2007 or 2008. I find an email I never responded to for whatever reason. And then I respond as if they had just sent the email. It’s amazing the results I have gotten from that simple exercise.
– Write. Write a book in the next three days. You can write a 30 page book about dieting (“100 ways to Lose 100 pounds”) and put it on sale on Amazon in one day. Why not? The traditional book industry is over. Write the book “100 things to do the day after you are fired”. Make it funny. Time to dominate the publishing industry while you are unemployed. Today make a list of all the possible 30 page books you can do. Then tomorrow start one of the books. You think this is not possible? I have one friend who just self-published a book. He was dead broke before that after being fired from his job. He made $200,000 in 90 days. No joke. This was about a month ago.
– Resentment. You are going to feel resentful about people at your old job. They wronged you. But listen closely: they are just trying to survive also. They aren’t different from you and me, no matter how much you feel they wronged you. You need to make a list of all the good qualities that person has and send them an email why you think they are good at what they do. Thank them.
– Brainstorm. Go completely in a different direction. What other industry can you work in? What other location can you live in? Make up the wildest fantasies about what you can do. Keep going until there is one possible direction you can execute on today. Brainstorm what blog you can do (and what products you can sell on the blog). Brainstorm about photography (anyone need a photographer this weekend?) Brainstorm about ecommerce (check out penny auction sites where you can buy stuff for pennies and resell on Ebay). I don’t know. I’m making stuff up. But brainstorm for an hour and some little slice of reality might peak through.
Remember: just one thing a day at first. Some of these things above seem crazy. But I’m not recommending anything that I haven’t done and made money doing. All of them.
If you are feeling better, go for the full Daily Practice I describe in many posts. But don’t stress it. The Daily Practice has always worked for me when I’ve hit my low points on repeated occasions. But first do “one thing a day”. No pressures.
Anyone who is fired today, feel free to email me and tell me what is going on. Or sign up for my email list where I give out a free copy of my new unreleased book (“The Choose Yourself Stories”), which I don’t intend to release for another month.
But no matter what, do that one thing. Get the blood moving. Get the heart moving. Then the rest will follow and you will be ok.