Five Things to Do When You Get Fired

Yes, unlike most of you, I have been fired. Assuming that we have a recession in the next few years (Thanks to our business cycle.), you might be interested in my experience should you have the opportunity to recover from getting fired. Note: Unlike the ‘good old days’ it is unlikely that you will be laid off and then called back to work when your former employer needs you again.

Go to ‘work’ the next day.

Get dressed and go someplace to work. Don’t spend the day ruminating on your personal failures. Do something to resolve the situation.

Here’s what I did: On the day after I was fired I went to a coffee shop to work on my resume. In the parking lot I called a former co-worker to tell him that I was “on the market.” He mentioned that a head hunter had called him about a job. He gave me the headhunter’s contact info. By the end of the day I had a phone interview scheduled with my future manager.

Be an optimist.

When I was feeling a lot of anxiety about work, which led to sleeplessness, I read Learned Optimism by Prof. Martin Seligman. He described the difference between optimists and pessimists.

When misfortune occurs pessimists and optimists frame the situation differently in terms of reach, scope, and time. A pessimist thinks “My life is a disaster. I always screw up. I’ll never recover from this.” An optimist thinks “Other aspects of my life are fine and will help me through this difficult time. Lots of people get fired for lots of different reasons; they survive. This is not a permanent situation. I’ll work through it.”

Be open to opportunities and changes.

“I’m a COBOL programmer. That’s who I am.” said the guy in his late 50s. That’s all he done in his career. He believed that once he found a COBOL job he could make good money. The problem: finding any COBOL programmer job. The longer you remain stuck in your preferred rut the longer and harder it may be to find work. Read job descriptions for work related to what you have done in the past that you may prefer. You may not even know about a job category that you’re qualified for.

Create a cash flow forecast.

Beginning cash + cash in – cash out = Ending cash. Knowing your cash (and credit) situation will enable you to control your cash flow, rather than simply worrying about money.

My wife and I usually go over the cash forecast that I prepare every Saturday morning. Hopefully you have some cash in the bank and available credit on your cards. You’ll probably get unemployment. Not much, but probably enough to buy groceries. Look at your expenses. If you know what you’ve been spending money on, you will be able to make better decisions on how you spend the next dollar.

Tell people that you got fired.

Don’t hide out for a few weeks and pretend that it didn’t happen. Start telling people that you got fired and let them know what kind of work you’re looking for. The more people you contact the more opportunities you may have.

And when you tell family and friends that you got fired, take some responsibility. Admit that you’d lost interest in your job, that you didn’t get along with your former manager, that you’d really rather be a cabinet maker. They’ll appreciate you honesty. Who knows, you may whine a little bit less.

Focus on Action Daily Journal Format

Photo of Evernote Entries

Photo of Evernote Entries

As a regular listener to Tim Ferriss’s podcasts, I’ve heard him talk about journaling. I’ve been interested in journals since I read Walden by Henry David Thoreau. He used his journals to consider nature and life through the writing process.
Ferriss recommended the Five Minute Journal, so I ordered a copy. When I finished it (in about seven months), I had to decide whether to order another copy. My preference lately has been to minimize ink-on-paper when Dropbox is more accessible from my iPhone and iPad. So, I decided to create my own journal format in Evernote.
This post contains my current journal format. It’s current because I tweak the format and approach to topics almost every time I update my journal. Because how I write about a topic changes with what I think is important I overwrite the previous entry on a topic from day-to-day. The entries tend to develop over several days’ of revisions until I don’t have anything more to write, then I may change the topics.
Here are the current headings in my journal with notes in italics.
__End the Day__
Three positive actions:

At the end of the day or the first thing the next day, I write three short bullets about what I did that day consistent with what I’ trying to do with my life.

What could I have done?
This tends to be variations on a theme that develops over time, rather than specific undone tasks. For example, a recent theme has been; Produce more. Consume less.
Edit & Write 250 words (yesterday): __000__
Simple, how many words did I write yesterday. My goal is low; and I’m disappointed how often I fail.
Sober today for: 000 days
I’ve mentioned the number of days on Twitter (@charlieahern) and Facebook (Charlie Ahern). People reply with “one day at a time” encouragements. I’m not a member of AA and don’t consider myself a serious alcoholic (quitting has seemed too easy). One day I woke up with a hangover and regrets from the night before, and then decided to stop drinking alcohol.
Is there something that you’d like to do or not do over a long period of time. Counting the days may help you be more aware your string of successes. If you lapse, don’t give up simply re-start the count.
__Start the Day__
Moon: phase, 00% visible
Temp: 00° -> 00°
I’m trying to pay more attention to the changing seasons. For example, this spring at sunrise we’ve had a murmur of starlings looping around our apartment. Of course, I did have to find out what “waxing gibbous” meant.
Thank You note to:
The “You” is usually someone I may seldom or never meet, but who deserves some thanks. This is a new daily practice that’s not as easy as you may think. It takes some time to identify someone and write a note that has some meaning.
Positive statement:
Some simple statement about what is or would be a good thing. No, this is not an “affirmation” about how I’m becoming more perfect every day.
Three things to be grateful for:
I refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to prompt ideas. Some days I’m just grateful that I have relatively clean water to drink.
My aspiration (write about possible future):
This tends to be a big picture, though specific, goal. What do I aspire to do? Note that this is not a mission statement that goes on the shelf and remains forgotten. I read and revise it whenever I journal.
BIG Goals for 2016
What big stuff do I want to do this year that will take some action? I have three goals.
Three BIG Goal Actions for today:
For each of the BIG Goals, what will I do today to move the ball forward? Each action should be worth doing on its own, because if I don’t hit the goal at least playing the game will be fun.

Morning Routine

During his podcast interviews, Tim Ferriss often asks people about their morning routines. He also mentioned The Five-Minute Journal. I bought a copy of the journal and started being more intentional first thing in the morning. I’d be interested if you have an interesting morning routine or have suggestions for me.

Here’s my morning routine:

  • 5:30 am, approximately – Wake up. No alarm clock. Usually I’m asleep by 10 pm, so I get about seven to eight hours of sleep.
  • 5:30 to 5:50 – Listen to a guided (vipassana) mediation by Tara Brach. I do this while still in bed. For me this is like yoga; a physical, rather than spiritual practice. A relaxing way to fully wake up.
  • 5:50 to 6:15 – Read a page from a few sources to get my brain working:
    • The Intellectual Devotional. One page write-ups about history, literature, visual arts, science , music, philosophy, and religion. The last three topics were the Hagia Sophia, black holes, and instruments & ensembles. The title is so pretentious I don’t like to admit that I’m reading it.
    • The Daily Book of Art. One page write-ups about visual arts. The last three topics have been Texture, What is the Purpose of Art?, and Early Christian & Byzantine Art.
    • The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Cross-referenced definitions. Usually I follow a string of definitions; materialism > atomism > field theory. This can be a heavy lift in the morning: Logic > predicate calculus > propositional variables. I may replace this one. This morning I picked up Enterprise Integration Patterns, which I bought a few years ago, but haven’t finished. However, deciphering Java Message Service code might also be too heavy a lift for early morning.
  • 6:15 to 6:30 – Write in The Five-Minute Journal. I try to write for no more than five minutes, but usually go longer. The Journal has enough pages for about seven months. I’m about halfway through. When I finish all the pages in this book, I think I’ll buy a blank book and design my own daily outline.
  • 6:30 to 7:00 Shower & dress
  • 7:00 to 7:30 Breakfast
  • 7:30 to 7:45 Leave for work

Now that the weather is getting warmer, I plan to bicycle to work. Leaving at 6:30-ish.

How do you wake up?

More info:

Tim Ferriss,

The Five-Minute Journal,

Tara Brach,

Intellectual Devotional,

Daily Book of Art,

Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy,

Enterprise Integration Patterns,