Coronavirus killed my paycheck; here’s how I’m coping.

It’s Quarantine Day 21 for me and everything has changed. It started to hit me last week, when I realized that even television shows weren’t the same (TV commercials, too). Shipping from stores is different, as is mail delivery and even my favorite podcasts.

But I was also so thankful that one thing stayed the same: my income. In a time when millions of Americans are facing so much uncertainty, I was still getting paid and had the luxury of being able to support local restaurants and businesses, and even donate to charities benefitting others.

Last week, my friend and I sadly postponed our planned trip to Iceland. We booked new flights for October, even though no one is sure when this thing will subside. I coped knowing we still had things to look forward to — Memorial Day getaways and summer concerts — until those started to disappear as well.

And then Thursday morning came, and I heard the words so many others have recently heard: “Your position has been cut.”

The truth is, I’ve been here before. If you’re a Bitter Lemon veteran, you know that I’ve faced job uncertainty a few times, but whether it’s the first time or the 100th time, it’s never good.

It’s part of the reason I’ve maintained an entrepreneurial spirit with the belief that you always have to have several sticks in the fire. That spirit and belief is one of the reasons I’m not crumpled in my bed, crying the day away.

I spent a majority of Thursday in shock and not really knowing what to do with myself. There were LinkedIn messages and emails and calls. I was seeing posts online about how many job listings were being overwhelmed with applications because nearly everyone needs a job.

In times like these, it’s easy to panic.

But then I took my mind back to this blog and why I started it in the first place: to share the message that ANY situation can be yours for the taking.

After I got the news, I called a fellow entrepreneur and business owner.

“You’re a survivor,” she told me. “People and businesses that can quickly adapt will succeed and those that can’t, won’t.”

While I know the next few weeks and months won’t be easy, I know I have the tools and the drive to make it.

So, two days fresh from a lay-off, here’s a few things I’m doing to cope:

Keeping a routine. I still have remaining clients that I work for (please don’t leave me!) and that requires a loose schedule, but I always think it’s a good idea to generally stick to the 9-5 routine. It’s okay if you’re not working for the entire 8 hours, but fill your schedule with what you can: a workout, a webinar, a networking zoom hour, updating your resume, or applying for jobs.

Getting rest. Sleep doesn’t come easy these days, but it’s so important to get it. There WILL be a day when we’re all hustling and back and work and we’ll wish we’d slept when we had the time. If you can get an extra hour of rest, do it.

Staying positive. This is the most difficult part. It’s easy to see all of the sad, awful things happening in the world and wonder how anything is ever going to be better. A big part of me staying positive is choosing to consume uplifting content and keeping in touch with people who will encourage me to keep going. I also write a lot in a journal and remind myself that I’m not alone, and that I can get through this.

Creating mini goals and then conquering them. A good approach to all of this is to take it day-by-day and maybe you set a few small goals for each day. For example, today, my goal was to clean my kitchen and file for unemployment. Check and check, and I still have loads of the day left! Maybe some of those goals are related to bringing in money, but maybe some of them are made to help you feel better.

Sharing your story. This blog has always been a place for me to spill my guts and I always come out feeling so much better. Sharing my story about job uncertainty has also always helped me find work! People aren’t going to know you need a job unless you tell them, so post it on your social media, share it on your podcast, put a sign on your front door, whatever. Spread the word, put it out into the universe and let it go.

Appreciating what you already have. Even before I lost a big paycheck, I was starting to appreciate the things I have: my kitty Blanche, the food in my fridge (and the stash in my pantry), a safe neighborhood to take walks in, a car to get to essential places, encouraging friends, a comfy bed, a near-endless supply of skincare, and a stack of books to read.

Spending less and saving a little more. Over the last several months, I was in a financial position to put aside money for savings and was able to pay off more than half of my debt. That doesn’t mean I can go even a week without working, but it does mean I don’t have to start from $0 and for that I am thankful. Anytime I am uncertain about my income, I tighten up on my spending and see if I can’t put a little more into my savings. Since we’re in a quarantine, that means spending less money on gas and anything entertainment-related, and making a greater effort to turn off things when not in use and do less online shopping — at least for now.

How you can support me and anyone else in the same position for $0

  • Subscribe to their blogs, listen to their podcasts, read their books, etc.
  • Keep your eyes out for money-making opportunities that would fit their skill set
  • Share their social media posts
  • Write a recommendation for them on LinkedIn
  • Point them toward resources (newsletters, webinars, Twitter chats)
  • Send them words of encouragement

If your paycheck(s) have been affected by COVID-19, I’d love to hear your story or how you’re managing. If this blog can be a space for you to write and share what’s on your mind, shoot me an email at Holly@thebitterlemon.com.

You’re supporting me by simply reading this blog and I appreciate you for that. Of course, if I can be of any professional assistance (here are all of my available services) please let me know. Keep your head up, everyone… and wash your hands!

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