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December 22, 2008
Get Your Shiznit Together, There Will Be Blood
 
Unless you've been living under a rock (sometimes known as working on a shoot) for the past three months, you can't help but be wondering if you're going to lose your job in January.
I mean, we've learned from past experience that these things rarely, if ever make sense.
Do they?
I wonder if it's because it probably has to be the worst moment in a manager's career, and the emotions that come with it can be used as some comforting rationale for some of the decisions that get made.
But regardless, there will be decisions made.
How are you feeling? Uneasy, I'm sure. Confused has to be on the list as well. And of course, the whole emotion concoction that has your name on it, has to be sprinkled with a healthy serving of just plain old fear.
Here is how to conquer the fear.
Get ready.
Now.
Do all the things you've been putting off for far too long. There is no pool to swim in. No garden to maintain. No park to take the kids to. No party that can't be missed because there will be another party to go to tomorrow night.
There is only Christmas.
Even though all that buying and wrapping and eating and eating, and more eating can really cut into your productivity, there's still plenty of time to get ready. It's a great holiday in that many people have their holiday at home, not away somewhere. And even if home is a plane ride away, there's nothing like Mom close by with food and sweaters to increase your productivity. (Mine is European, maybe they're not all like that.)
If you're still with me, you're probably wondering what exactly getting ready means. 
Ready means:
1. Spend some time thinking about your career. Think about what you like about your current job, and what you don't like about it. Think about what you've liked and not liked about every job you've had. Including your high school job. Now, write it down. Make sure there at LEAST 10 things in each section for each job. It makes you push past the obvious.
2. Decide what the top three reasons are that someone should hire you versus someone else who has the same title as you. Practice saying it out loud. Write it down.
3. Consider where you would like your career to be in five years. Or in some cases, not be. As in, "I will no longer have a career through conscious choice and action directed towards that choice." Dream. Think big. Remember, people should have vivid dreams and vague fears, not the other way around - Thank you for that one Peter Souter. Again, write it all down.
4. Think about what your website would be like if you were trying to quickly communicate the "Top Three Reasons" you created in Point 2. 
5. Build that website. No excuses. Everyone needs one now. It's the new black leather portfolio. Only this one doesn't get lost. Or misplaced. Or cost hundreds of dollars to create laser prints. Everything you need to build one is already in your hard drive. Isn't it? Come on, it must be. If it isn't, it should be, and will be a whole lot easier to get before you have the “this doesn’t make sense the client loves me” conversation - if it happens - not after. (The best resource we've found is http://www.bigblackbag.com. No relation to us.)
6. Update your resume. H*ll do a conceptual resume! Those are always fun, and make you stand out. The people you send them to like receiving them. Way more fun than the accountant's resume. Oh isn't that what it is? Job, from/to, accounts worked on, and so on and so on. Yes. You need one. I know, you've never needed one in the past. Well, this isn't the past, this is now.
7. Think of something witty or interesting or intelligent to say in voice mail when you phone people that's better than, "Hi I sent you my resume, did you get it?" 
8. Read your accomplishments. Then read them again. Then read them again. Yes, this is YOU we're talking about! It's nice to gather all that good stuff in one place and enjoy it. It'll make you feel great.   And remember ~ regardless of what happens those accomplishments are yours and no one can take them away from you. Like my friend Craig said, "In this industry, it's not a question of if this will happen to you, it's a question of when."
Lots of people have been laid off in this industry and I would say 90% of them have come through it. Maybe not where they thought they might, but they did. It's shitty, and it's no fun, but almost no one has died from it. You will get through this. We all will.
9. Forget your accomplishments. This is a time of real reflection. Do you really think you may be at risk? Why is that? There must be something that you're doing that you know you need to work on. Now is the time to do it. Now is the time to book that course. Regardless of what happens. You can still afford it. There are a million options at every price point, and there are books galore on anything and everything if you prefer that route.
10. Enjoy the confidence that comes with being ready. You will no longer feel as vulnerable. You'll bounce back sooner. You can get back in the game sooner, not spend a week or two trying to get everything happening. You'll have a running start on those other people that were on the receiving end of the 'conversation that doesn't make sense'. You'll also get front of the line access from recruiters BECAUSE you're ready. You'll create a better online book without the pressure of knowing your severance is running out and this will have to 'do'.
And work on your swagger. The one that comes with being ready. Who knows, that swagger may be just what is required to take you off the list you don't want to be on, and keep you on the list you're already on.
The company phone list.

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Heidi Ehlers is The Career Coach for The Creative Class, an expert on helping creative leaders excel, find their leadership voice, and flourish. www.heidiconsults.com
www.diaryofacreativedirector.com.
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