With job losses continuing, job stress for those still employed continues. Does management know how to distribute the work? What work will we no longer do? Will there be more layoffs? Will I have a layoff next?
For those who are already laid off, the mission is clear: find another job. For those who stay, nothing is clear. And you can only live with ambiguity for so long.
One of the (many) ways to reduce stress is to do something proactive about that which stresses you. Even small steps that allow you some control over your circumstances will help.
Practicing for a layoff is not a small step — it’s big. But worth it. Simply do this: pretend you are laid off starting tomorrow. What steps would you take right now to ready yourself and your family to live on unemployment, severance and your savings? Then go do it.
What would you pare back? What debt would you get rid of right now? How would you change your food shopping habits, cable or satellite packages, Netflix accounts and other discretionary income? How much will COBRA cost? How much income will you get from unemployment insurance? How much take-home pay do you have in the bank right now to cover expenses? How long will it last?
Pick an expense level to drive to and then practice being at that level for two months to see what other items you missed. Put a plan together, make all the changes, and then live to your planned level of income and expenses for two months.
Now, let’s be clear: this practice will be stressful — but not as stressful if you were doing this under the gun of a layoff that already happened to you.
But practicing will give you benefits:
Now, you may come out of this practice realizing you are not ready for a layoff. But at least you should now know — and your family knows — what needs doing to get you ready for a layoff. I’ve always advocated having one year’s take-home pay in the bank. A whole year. Nothing beats anxiety — or desperation — like money in the bank. A practice session will tell you what needs doing.
If you do get laid off, you will go through many emotions (as described in How to survive a job layoff). That’s expected. But practicing for a layoff, completing your plan to get your finances right and then getting to one year’s take-home pay in the bank means you at least won’t have to worry about caring for your family, paying your bills and keeping your home. And reduce your job stress thinking about a layoff.
A layoff is in your future. Layoffs are in everyone’s future. The Cubicle Warrior knows this and is ready.
Have you ever practiced for a layoff? What did you find out?
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