Why should you plan for the unexpected?
When you are in the middle of a job search, it is hard to read advice about what you should have done differently.
But since self-employment often parallels the way a job seeker feels, I understand the struggles you may be going through.
Can I have a “Do-Over”?
All of us would love to have a “do-over” to start things over again and get it right. 2010 has felt a little like that for me. Though I owned Design Resumes for a long time, I rethought everything I did this year.
The transition of operating Design Resumes as a full time business is happening now. Instead of managing operations of more than one non-profit, I changed to a full focus on Design Resumes when I resigned from Wausau Whitewater in December 2009.
I started out with some investments into the business. The office got a face-lift.
Psychologically, working in a fresh area helps me but since I see clients here, it also helps to improve the atmosphere. My office has a fantastic view overlooking the city but it is nice to have great lighting and the rest of the remodel too.
I invested in more education. Though I have always had a virtual connection to the career industry, participating in Career Thought Leaders and Career Management Alliance conferences this year created in-person connections that solidified many growing online relationships and also provided more targeted education on cutting edge career industry issues. In October, I head out to San Diego for the Career Directors International Conference where I will network with more colleagues and gain valuable insight on more career industry hot topics.
I invested in me in many different ways this year to make myself an asset for my clients and to solidify network connections with colleagues and business professionals throughout the world.
Why plan for the unexpected?
In addition to my planned investments into the business, there have been some surprises this year. I was sick for awhile and it took doctors to resolve the matter.
My husband had long-procrastinated surgery, resulting in large bills that surprised me even when I had an idea of what it could cost.
My son was hit by an uninsured and unlicensed driver. Though the car he was driving was fully insured and in mint condition, it was a 1992 and the insurance payment will put him on the path of finding a new vehicle again.
I just gifted him that car, thinking it was better for him to have it because he drives more. I thought I would get another later.
Now he needs to purchase a new vehicle. I need to think through when it is the right time for me to look for one for me. My older son needed help with another issue and took my cash reserves.
What are some steps you can take to plan for the unexpected?
Track your expenditures.
If you know exactly what you are spending, you will more easily be able to determine if you have some things you can cut. For a period of time, write down everything you spend.
Develop a budget.
I have an extensive spreadsheet that I have used since 1996 but I also have budgets in the QuickBooks files that I keep for my company and my personal accounts. Projecting forward helps you forecast upcoming expenses.
Pay down debt.
As hard as it may be to keep your expenses under control, you need to focus on decreasing debt even when income isn’t coming in.
Set up and contribute to a savings plan.
I used to say that I couldn’t save. Then I started to listen to a good friend who advised me to put money in savings even when I still am struggling to pay down debt.
It helps for the unexpected. Even putting $10 a month in savings leaves a little in reserves for the hard times. His formula and one advised by many financial counselors is 6 to 8 months in a reserve savings account that is your emergency fund.
This seems astronomical to me since I have both business and household expenses but it is a goal that I hope to keep building toward.
Decide what to cut out.
Looking critically at your expenses may open doors to help you see things that you could do differently. My view of many expenses is different now.
Build your network.
It is easy to think you can’t do anything but by doing the things above and finding creative ways to connect with others, you can keep enhancing your network. A cup of coffee, a phone chat, a business meeting, or Chamber of Commerce event keeps you connected.
Don’t feel sorry for yourself.
When times are hardest, you tend to isolate yourself and perhaps withdraw and make alcohol or drugs a substitute for moving forward on goals. I have watched others go this route and fall into a depression. Clinical depression is nothing to play with and it does need an expert. But feeling sorry for yourself is defeating and makes everything harder.
Challenge yourself and reward yourself.
Along with not feeling sorry for yourself, build in some rewards. Again, take a different look at things. Rewards can be very tiny and cost little or nothing. But you need rewards more when things are tough. Listening to music. A free concert. Time for yourself. A bubble bath. Your favorite past time. Fishing. Give yourself a reward.
Look for new sources of income.
You may not want to start your own business and this might not be the time but is there something you can do that will create income. Do you have a special talent that people would pay for? Could you help someone else who needs help but not a full time employee or service?
What other solutions can you find to help plan for the unexpected?
After I published this, I read another great post on the same topic by Jason Alba entitled, How to Prepare for a Layoff. He gives you more advice on planning for the unexpected there.
A client and I recently discussed the “insurance resume.” It goes with planning for the unexpected. You don’t expect to lose your job but if you did, your resume (and LinkedIn) are ready. Do you need an insurance resume? Learn More.