Here’s a situation I haven’t seen myself in for many years; and yet I am sure there are thousands of people stuck in this very spot. What do you do when you hit a dry spell for work, and the money runs out?
Now, I’m a writer; and since I don’t have a boss, the IRS states that I am a freelancer; freelancers do have dry spells now and then; but then again, so do contract labor, mechanics, and basically anyone who is currently out of work.
I had this same problem back in the winter of 2005. The taxi service I was driving for was having a bad winter. I ended up unemployed because I could not meet their lease and support myself. The entire world around me consisted of people who told me the following:
“you didn’t try hard enough to stay employed”
“just go do something else”, and the favorite
“another job will come along”
In the meanwhile, it took six months and about 150 applications and resumes before I landed a part-time job at a convenience store and bottle redemption center. In those six months, what money I had remaining vanished quickly. I got behind in rent, and utilities, and even had a spell there for a week with no propane for the stove or hot water.
Now, here’s the catch to all this – if people didn’t see me trudging off daily looking for work, then I must not really be trying to find a job.
Comments like the following were uttered without a thought:
“you’re not trying hard enough”
“take any job they offer you”
“I don’t see you looking for work”
And the favorite for me in this category is the answer I always got when asking if anyone knew anyone hiring or might hire – “nope”
Meanwhile as your resources dwindle, you’re supposed to double your efforts. Ok, so yes you can use the library, but the printing costs money. Yes you can send resumes, but the printing and the postage cost money. Yes you can hand in dozens of applications, but so are hundreds of others. I remember a convenience store chain where I was told once that for every position they advertise, they get nearly 100 applications for. The local Burger King had a two hour window where you could turn in applications just to avoid being overwhelmed.
So, what do you do when your money dries up and the way to get money isn’t clear or becoming less so lately? While I don’t know the exact answers for you, here’s what worked once, and what I’m going by again.
Do Not Panic
One of the worst things you can do now is panic and get stressed out. This is not healthy for you, nor for anyone around you. You get tired both emotionally and physically. You can get angry, upset, frustrated but you are not dead.
Do Not Burn Yourself Out Applying for Every Job You See
I did this at first, trying to find work. I actually spent a week walking around each nearby town applying to every business I found. I got nothing from it, except sores on my feet and a pair of dead sneakers. Another waste of time is using Craigslist to apply to any and every job you “might” fit. Yes, Craigslist has lots of jobs; most of these jobs are placed there to attract the most applicants and usually pay the least money. I’ve never seen a good-paying job there yet.
Not that you already aren’t doing this, but take a day each week and think of what direction you might go. Plan your next week. Plan the approach. Plan what you are doing before just reacting. The planning itself allows some stress to release because you are actually using brain cells to work the problem and concentrate on something else other than being unemployed and broke.
Find a couple of people and brainstorm. Have one bring coffee and the other bring donuts or something. Brainstorm on every skill you have. EVERY sill – like laundry, dog walking, driving, pet care, cooking, cleaning, gardening, woodwork, any mechanical skill – anything. Now brainstorm on how ANY of those skills can become a part-time income.
Keep Yourself Healthy
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this one. And its true. If you aren’t healthy – physically, mentally and emotionally – you can’t be of any value to any employer (including yourself if you go part-time with a skill or hobby).
Eat a balanced diet. This is a good time to learn cooking and nutrition. Hell you have the time. And if you’re smart you applied for state assistance, so you have food stamps. This is also a good time to learn gardening. You have a hobby, you have food, and you have something to take the tension out on (the ground and weeds).
Walk. Go to the woods. Go around the town. Open the front door, and walk out and go someplace. Walk for an hour or two. Look around you, actually see what you have been missing. Don’t think about anything, just walk. TENSION BREAKER – yep yep.
Now when I figure out how to get myself out of this dry spell I’m in, I’ll write about it and let you know too.
Hey, brainstorming session – anybody got ideas?