My own boss – unemployment logs

And the quest of the unemployed continues. Every day is like a product life cycle chart – it starts off slow, with the cold feeling of winter in my lungs, the foreign feel of the rug underneath my soles and the oh so unpleasant feeling of numbness in my joints and back. Yes, good morning. It is yet again past 8:30 and i am at home, guiding my feet one by one to the kitchen, where i make myself a cup of coffee with milk. My piggie slippers then slowly move back towards my place of procrastination –  my work desk. Or just desk, in the last days weeks.unemployment-benefits

Being unemployed kinda means you are your own boss –  you give yourself tasks, you set your own deadlines and you check your own results. And this is probably what makes unemployment  not a vacation –  it is hard enough to do one of these jobs, let alone both of them. Especially when the results  –  interviews or offers – are late to appear.

Yes, being unemployed does mean a lot of free time. Lots of freedom and flexibility. Not so many financial resources. Lots of wasted moments and lots of regrets for the days that have gone by. Little or no satisfaction. For me, it felt something like the work of Sisifus –  day in and day out, i had to go through the same steps: check out the new job postings, read the requirements, sort out the ones i wished to apply for, check the CV and draft a motivation letter describing how much i want to be part of the X culture and Y business methods. And at the end of the day, there was little or even no satisfaction whatsoever… there is not much to show for your day other than the inbox crowded with thank you for your interest in our company emails. In between the latter, the  unfortunately, your application has not been successful, but we wish you luck in your future endeavors  sting a little bit, but are still better than the lack of response. At least the latter made me more or less aware of whether i should check my e-mail on an hourly/30 minute basis or not, what e-mails to expect in the future, what chances i have, and whether it was time to lower my standards and start applying for another category of jobs altogether.

My official unemployment began on the 19th of October 2013 –  but i did take some time to rest and to get my thoughts in order before getting on the job applications rollercoaster. Also, i had this weird feeling that everything was going to be ok, that i would be fine, that there is nothing to worry about… Maybe it was the fact that i had some money saved up; maybe it was my  living at home and thus no looming rents or bills for me to pay. Maybe it was my confidence in my own value as a job candidate, maybe it was my intuition… or maybe it was just plain irresponsible of me.

Because in the end, everything did indeed turn out ok. Just as i was about to start panicking that my CV and candidature is becoming more and more obsolete with each day.

Week number 1 of unemployment was pretty productive in the sense of  By that time i had planned a trip to Italy, with a short stay in Serbia, so it was really like taking a vacation… from the vacation i had already taken.images

 

At first, i did not know how to be unemployed. I took a small vacation at the beginning –  right after my contract with the BlueCo ended. i got together with  friends and family, i met new people, took on a challenge here and there, got back in touch with myself and just rested and enjoyed the late October weather. And then the early November one. And then the late November one. I was lightly sending applications here and there, i had been to a few interviews, but i was not too stressed out. I figured i still had time –  i had given myself a deadline, a period of light activity and just nosing around different job markets and areas.

Till it hit me. It was already the 1st of December, 30 days before my deadline, after which i had promised myself that i would lower my standards and apply for all kinds of jobs. I was so close to that deadline, the day when i had to stop aiming high.  And i did not want to stop. Because i had not aimed hard enough before. I had not aimed carefully enough. I had not aimed well enough.

So i extended my deadline till March. But that is when i started to aggressively aim aim aim. 

Too bad i was aiming all over the place and the arrows were coming back to bite me in the behind. I found myself always feeling guilty for not doing more, not sending out more, not reading more, not preparing more, not working more etc. I felt the constant need to be doing something, reading something,  indifferent of the hour, so in the end, there was no free time, because technically, all the time was free time, right?  I had no boundary between aiming  time and me time, so i was constantly in a rush from here to there, procrastinating and feeling guilty at the same time, sending out applications in a hurry, hungry for more more more, for higher higher higher.

And as my arrow bag became empty, it hit me : i had to relax. Looking for a job is a full time job –  and i needed to treat it like that. I had to take breaks. Lunch breaks, evening breaks, emotional breaks. And i had to enjoy the little time i had left in  unemployment.  It was a job, but after all,  i was my own boss. And it did not have to be 9-6. It could be 8-5. Or 12 – 9, depending on the activities of the previous evening.  But strictly had to be 8 hours. Ok, sometimes it could be 7. Other times, 6.  But only on weekdays. Maybe sometimes not even on all of them. Sometimes, when an urgent matter appeared, i would send out applications on weekends as well. But not on too many weekends. Because otherwise, when was i going to have the time to do all those things there is no time for when employed? When would i have had time to enjoy the sun, read a book, drink coffee with my friends at noon, start writing on my blog again?

Too bad my unemployment period hit in the winter, and thus i had to spend most of it inside. Although i am glad that it did not spill into another season, and that it only lasted 4 months on the dot : when i got the liberating offer i let out a sigh and looked around my room, not believing that there would be

NO MORE APPLICATIONS AND COVER LETTERS !

And just like that, a new category was created : Journal of an Employee.

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TED : Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life

I was reluctant to watch this talk as i am not a gamer –  as proven yesterday and all times before that where i would just watch and not really enjoy video games… However, i do like playing card games, board games and social games, so in a way i guess that makes me a gamer too, of sorts, right?

This talk gives some very good advice.

First of all, do not be still for more than 1 hour at a time. It is a problem our generation faces more and more each day, as we spend our working days mostly behind a computer screen… and our free time doing the same. I try to get out of that routine, i try to work out, to go for walks, hiking, cycling and other outdoor activities. All of the above is a bit more difficult in the winter –  true, but i do my best.

Second of all,  we need to reach out to the persons we care about,  tell them how we feel, help them with whatever they need, or just spend some quality time together, wouldn’t that just be great?

Third of all, will power is just like a muscle, it gets stronger the more we exercise it.  So by tackling small goals and tasks daily, we can actually grow to be able to face larger challenges in terms of professional and personal growth.

And last but not least,  we have to offer ourselves at least 3 positive emotions for each negative one we get, daily. The negatives come on their own, it is the positives that we need to trigger. And as the talk shows, looking at a baby elephant picture might just do that :)

TWhC7

All of the above seem like simple enough advice, some 4 simple steps to follow every day. So why don’t we?

Raptitude – Keep your doing and your deciding away from each other

It is amazing how well this article actually works. I am sure that it will not yield the same results for larger, more complex issues, but for small stuff such as  should i clean the house  or  should i brush my teeth after the 3 major meals of the day it works just fine.

It is like some CPU is freed, and the mind has made room for other, more important issues….

Enjoy.

http://www.raptitude.com/2014/02/keep-your-doing-and-your-deciding-away-from-each-other/

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hehe, nice tumblr.com error message :)

 

There’s nothing here.

Whatever you were looking for doesn’t currently exist at this address. Unless you were looking for this error page, in which case: Congrats! You totally found it.

What my desktop wallpaper tells me

Wallpapers-room_com___Be_Original_blue_by_Adam_Betts_1280x800Different people, different conversation topics. And it’s great for me that I have more than I circle of people whom I feel close to, people that I have met on different occasions, in different circumstances, with whom I have shared different experiences and who know different sides of me.

And the crowd from yesterday was one that was prone to listen to me talk (a lot), but also one that was inclined towards discussing matters of personal development – inspiration, motivation and brain re-wiring. And one idea (out of the many) that stuck with me till this morning was that one’s internal state of mind, ones way of thinking determines ones acting patterns. So more or less yes, I get very excited when I get a new idea, a new project etc… and I get super-active, both inside and out. Nothing is impossible any more, and I am finding myself in this state of pure energy and ideas. Till it passes.

If that excitement may be thought of as an inspired state, a motivated position, an energized form –  then it is true that commitment is what you actually do when you leave that state. It is what you do day in and day out that matters –  when the initial motivation, the initial energy, the initial excitement leaves you.

Yesterday I was very excited to start over, to respect my mind and my body, to watch what I eat and to exercise. To get up early and not to offer myself excuses, to be productive and to be able to say that yes, today was a good day.

And that type of motivation and energy usually hits me late into the night, coz that is when I make most promises to myself about things I will do the days to come. Yeah, right.

This morning, even if I had set the alarm for 7:00 AM, I snoozed it till the last possible moment, getting up at 8:45 when I already had to get dressed and go out. So much for my earlier that mornings  promises to actually get up earlier, work out, have breakfast and maybe even do some research.

So the question is, how can I get back to that, back to the inspired and motivated me ? Something had triggered that state in me yesterday, so theoretically, all I have to do today is find a similar incentive, a close enough stimuli, a  yes I guess that could do it  impulse, right?

So from there I got to the question that I was once asked in an interview:  What motivates you? Very good question, I would like to know the answer to that one too.

Motivational backgroundI have a friend/ex-roommate who likes to stick yellow post-its all over the place, with motivational quotes and sayings. I used to just read them and smile, as  you are special and you can do it, all you have to do is try notes on the wall are not really my style. Buy dish soap and olive oil  is more like me.

But is it really? Motivational, inspirational posters/wallpapers and desktop backgrounds might  work. If they did not work at all, they would not be so widespread (here I go, applying my Eastern European if there is a line at the store, they must be selling something really good  logic).  Also, being reminded of something positive, seeing a great idea, an elevated thought cannot do any harm, unlike the  mindless song lyrics, the disrespectful vocabulary and the small range thought patterns that we subject ourselves to, day in and day out.

After all, I will never know till I try.

I am a person who likes quotes. So due to that fact, combined with my friend’s seemingly endless post-its, not a lot is new in the realm of motivational/inspirational messages. So these are all things I know, all things I understand, all things I have seen/heard/told myself before. But what I found is that yes, in the same way that  repetition is the mother of knowledge , being reminded of some truths, reading an idea over and over again makes one understand it – get it into the system and incorporate it into one’s beliefs. And, more often than not, a quote is understood differently from time to time.  After all, a man cannot enter the same river twice.

So, after browsing a useless website that offers immediate short term gratification and a false sense of joy  and I close/minimize the browser, I get told that I need to do some work, that  my future is made out of what I do today, and not tomorrow  and that  nobody remembers the guy who quit.  

And then I think that yes, my wallpaper is right. I should listen to it. I should live out of my imagination, and not my history. I should be original. And I should design my own life. 

“The Aviator”

…  about the intense, interesting an little known life of Howard Hughes. A must see movie.

As conspiracy and evil were about to triumph, true passion and determination can make a person get over anything and rise above everything –  even physical disabilities and phobias, in order to fight for the dream, fight for the possibility to be there the next day, fight for justice. It is a movie about what true passion can accomplish. It is truly inspiring to see such strength in a person who just seconds before that had been portrayed as so weak, so vulnerable, so… naked.

Looks, clothes, perceptions and whatnot

images“Dress for the job you want, and not the one you have”

I think I understood what that means just now…  Dress for the job you want, and you will feel like the person you want to be, doing what you want to be doing.

Dress for what you want to be doing.

My mom told me this case of this philosopher that would dress up every time he sat down at his desk to write. He would put on his best underwear, socks and suit; he would even put on a tie. And only then would he start to write his philosophical thoughts. He felt like a great thinker, thus he must be one, right? And he might have been, or not, but the idea here is that it worked. He worked. He wrote.

The question that I encountered a few days earlier was why are people that work from home generally less productive than the ones who work out of an office? Especially this question is valid in cases when the person in case is working on personal projects, projects they are supposedly passionate about. They do what they love – then how come they get  so little done?

Of course there are the exceptions ( see LifeHacker and This is how I work section). And then there is me.

Right now, I am unemployed, and I have been for some time. Looking for a job is a full time job, so I can qualify in the category of people that work from home. Also, getting a job is a priority for me right now, so that truly qualifies as something I am passionate about at the moment, right?

But then, why do I find myself demotivated and on most days? Why am I totally unproductive, why do I procrastinate and put off job applications till the last moment? Why am I no longer the energetic, optimistic and efficient individual that I remember and that I keep describing in my motivation letters?

Because it is hard for me to see myself as that individual.  I do not feel like that individual.  And I do not do what that individual  does.  Or did.

What I do is this. I get up at around 9, on the good days. On days like today, my too expensive phone decides to shut down on its own and thus the alarm does not ring, leaving me to sleep for 10 hours and a half. Well, there goes one part of the motto from my blog header.

Then  I go on to make myself a cup of coffee, with milk, and I drink it while I indulge in a fat  dairy dessert product. But it is ok, right? After all, I have a full day of work ahead, and I need my energy. The problem is that I finish my breakfast in about 15 minutes, with calm, while the TV show episode that I am watching has another 25 minutes left. And as I am not the type of person to leave things half done, I finish the episode.

After it is done, i quickly glance at the time and I decide that it is still early/I am still sleepy/I do not feel inspired/whatever other excuse I find and I thus procrastinate my real work for another hour or so.

By that time, I get hungry again, so I go into the kitchen looking for a snack. I spot the dirty dishes and I decide that ok, it would be nice of me to do them, so that mother gets home to a nice pleasant kitchen. Of course, by the time I am done with the dishes, I am even hungrier, and thus I decide to put together a meal, which I, of course, devour in front of my computer, watching another TV Show episode.

All this time, I am in my old room, with the same old high-school scribblings on my desk, with the same uncomfortable chair and the same dim lighting – even during the sunniest morning. I am wearing the clothes that have been downgraded from street wear to house wear, meaning that they are still in good shape but they are just too old or outdated to be seen in outside the family circle. And in my case, as I like to wear bright colored clothes, all the clothes that i have on in the house are different shades of red/pink. Needless to say, it is a bit cold and drafty in the apartment, so in addition to looking completely fashion ignorant and ridiculous, I also have a large blanket around me, making me feel like a giant whale. And somewhere underneath all that, I am supposed to find the highly efficient and energetic individual.  I have to say that I need to look pretty hard.

I have not been out of the house in 2 days –  there is no real reason for me to go through all that trouble of getting dressed to go out in such a cold weather ( some -5 degrees outside, but it actually got warmer these days, when compared to the -17 degrees that we had last week). Also, truth be told, I did not shower in these last 2 days either.

So is it surprising that I do not feel like a young motivated professional with ambitious career goals? I guess not, given that I do not look like (and smell like) one at all.

So, as Barney Stinson would say, Suit up!