On June 27, 2013 I went to work as usual. I opened my e-mail and one of the messages was from my boss:
Time: June 26th, 11:59 p.m.
Message: Let's have a meeting at 1:30 p.m. today and discuss your future in this company. I'm sorry this message came so unexpectedly.
Later that day, somewhere around 1:40 p.m., the company I worked with for over 14 years because of the economical reasons laid me off. The beginning of 2013 had been quiet on the project front and the company had started lay-off negotiations some weeks before. In that sense, I could expect what was coming.
However, getting laid-off didn't make me feel sad at all and in fact, I was relieved and happy. Naturally this was just my experience of what happened and for someone else this would have meant the end of the world.
Like a slap in the face
Getting laid off is never nice – no matter how much you hate your job or even if you expect it to happen (and secretly wish it would happen some day like me). For many, it's like a slap in the face or unexpectedly pulling a rug from under one's feet.
All of a sudden, all your plans and your whole future may seem uncertain and you start having these bad dreams of living under the boat.
When you consider that the steady monthly income, daily routines that you had, and the safety that came with it is now gone, its no wonder that people are afraid of the situation.
I know that this would have felt the same if I didn't expect what was coming. In that situation, losing a job would have been a shock and I wouldn't felt as good as I'm feeling right now.
But since I was mentally prepared and I knew exactly what to do if this kind of situation would ever occur, things were different in my case.
The fear of the unexpected
Okay, so I felt fine with what happened as I was prepared, but what makes the next person live his/her life as usual – without preparing for the worst?
First, it forces people to think about their future. Unfortunately, not all of the people have a clear idea what they really want to do "when they grow up". Maybe getting into this unknown territory is just too terrifying, thus this kicks in the internal resistance towards thinking about the future in the first place.
Second, they feel comfortable about their current position. This is actually what many of my colleagues expressed to me during the years when we talked about our dreams and hopes for the future.
They were stuck with the job, which they didn't necessarily like, but yet, it provided them a steady income from month to month. And because of this very reason, they didn't have to think any further about their future or step outside their comfort zones.
Finally, some people might think that getting laid off may never happen to them, thus it eliminates the need for thinking about it at all. Unfortunately, I heard stories of people who were fully employed, doing a great job, and still got kicked out of their jobs unexpectedly.
With all these reasons, it's easy to see why thinking about what you really want to do with your future may not be your #1 priority. However, I still strongly encourage you to do this thinking now – rather than when you are forced to do it.
Finding out your strengths
I started this preparation process years ago – around 2009. At first, I really had no clue as to what it was I wanted to do, but in summer 2010 this changed.
I took the DISC test, which pretty accurately showed me my strengths and gave me the indication to start exploring this path (my strengths) even further. For instance, the results said that I have very strong time management skills and that I'm good at keeping presentations to others.
After I analyzed the results further, I happened to take a look at my bookshelf: it was filled with books about time management and I then knew what my future plan was going to be.
I also started to think about the things I love to do, want to learn more about and talk about, and time management was the thing that came up again. In other words, I felt very natural with this topic, so I knew that I had to start exploring this path even further.
This is how I found my strengths and passions, and naturally this is what started my preparation process.
Preparing for the worst
Here's what I want you to do right now if you are still uncertain (about your job) or what you'd really like to do with your future:
1. Start figuring out your plan B. If you haven't started planning for the future, it's time to start now! And I really mean it!
The more you understand your strengths and your passions, you have already done more than what many people are willing to do in their entire lifetime.
Once you take those two components and start figuring out possible backup-plans for your day job, there will be a less possibility that layoffs will affect you mentally (and sometimes even physically).
2. Take a DISC test. I have to admit that a DISC test really changed my life, as it gave me the confidence to explore the topic I'm passionate about.
If you want to learn more about yourself, do yourself a favor and take this test by Tony Robbins. Although you are required to join to his e-mail list, it's still a small sacrifice compared to what you can possibly get in return.
3. Analyze your scores. Take time to analyze the results and figure out if the results make sense to you. You may be surprised to find out the strengths that you didn't think of and it can open your eyes to new opportunities.
4. Start a blog to show your expertise. Blog is really a hub for showing your expertise to other people. Starting a blog on the topic that you are passionate about can yield possibilities that you haven't even dreamed about.
For instance, thanks to my blog I have now written a book, which in most likely going to give me speaking and teaching opportunities on the topic I love.
Be prepared to spend a good amount of time until you have reached the critical mass (your audience). That's pretty much when these new opportunities really start to rise in one way or another.
5. Spend at least one hour of your time on your side-thing. So you know your passions and strengths and you have decided to start a blog. Now the real fun begins!
Spend at least one hour every day on this side-project – by writing blog posts, writing guest posts for other blogs, or getting deeper into your topic. Only this way you move closer and closer to your ultimate goal (doing what you love and earning money while doing so).
6. If the layoffs start, know that you are prepared. As soon as I heard about layoffs in my company, I was prepared to what was coming – even to the worst-case scenario.
Now that I got laid off, I knew exactly what I was supposed to do next and this is exactly what I have been doing: I have been building my online business full-time, writing a book and deepening my knowledge about the topic I'm passionate about.
Managing your time as a part-time online entrepreneur
One of the biggest issues when working on your "side-thing", aka your online business is to find enough time for it. I struggled with this issue myself, but fortunately I have found many ways to deal with it.
In fact, I have just finished my first book and the very problem is trying to solve: How can you find more time for your online business?
This is a book I have co-authored with 18 successful entrepreneurs, bloggers, and marketers (Steven as one of them) and they tell you what does work and what doesn't when it comes to managing your time.
The best part is that this book – 197 pages – is free for you to download! Just go to the download page and enter your name and e-mail address. I'll then give you instant access to the book, which you can then download to your computer.
And hey, you can always buy a printed or Amazon Kindle version of this book. It's much more convenient to read that way, when you are not tied to your computer.