I apologize upfront, its not been a very good day.
A few months ago, I began to feel a sharp pain in my shoulder while I was lifting weights. Despite discontinuing to work out, the pain intensified and spread to my elbow, then forearm, then fingers. It was not going away, so I finally had it checked out by a specialist. After X-Rays, an MRI and other tests, it turns out I have a herniated disk in my spine. It will require surgery to get the disk replaced. Real fun stuff.
Then, I received a phone call tonight from the head of the project I have been doing work on. A Friday night call … hmmm… before I answered I could tell things just didn’t feel right. Sure enough … he told me that they were getting a lot of push back on my monthly fee and that they needed to pull the plug on my assignment. A big fat ouch. Now my shoulder, elbow, forearm, fingers, and head were all hurting.
When I first got unemployed, a friend who had been just been through the experience met me for a drink. I had not seen him in awhile — he didn’t look too good. He is a graduate of a top ivy league school with a fantastic resume. After working in strategy consulting, he attended a top ivy league MBA program. He worked on the buyside at a couple top firms. One day, he walked into the typical Monday morning meeting at the hedge fund he worked for. For whatever reason, he came out of the room without a job. Two and a half years later, he was happy to finally find a sell side role.
During our drink, my friend told me that unemployment would be the ultimate torture. He said that in my mind, I would think about a worst case scenario for a situation. Reality would almost always turn out much worse than the worst case scenario. This statement has run through my head several times since that drink. Tonight, it has been running through my head over and over.
This project was a blessing in disguise. It came out of nowhere. It began paying a decent amount of money the same day that my severance ran out. Most importantly, it gave me new hope and a new sense of livelihood. It was never permanent and always felt like it was on the verge of getting pulled. Unfortunately, it got pulled a bit earlier than I expected. Just as I was beginning to get a bit of traction with outside parties to potentially purchase the asset I’m shopping, the plug got pulled.
My initial intuition was right on this one. I figured the chances were high that the plug would be pulled right at the end of this second holiday week. And, whala … that’s exactly what happened. Why did I think this? Past experience. The mix of a few down weeks without much activity along with a bunch of new year planning is always a deadly combination. It was a good assignment and it could have lead to a lot more if only the timing was better. As my friend said, reality beat the worst case scenario in my mind to the punch.
Hanging up the phone, I felt a gut punch that seemed like a mini version of getting fired again. I can’t help to think negatively about this. I immediately thought about what it would be like if I worked under somebody and this happened … blame would be pinned on me. I keep thinking about what I could have done better. Unfortunately, I just don’t know the answer. I worked pretty hard at this. I can’t do much to prevent a holiday lull.
So, looking forward. They agreed to pay me for 10 more days work in order to wrap this up. I still had some work that needed to get done. Now, I’m trying to decide what to do and what not to do. Come January 15th, it will be back to the job search and finally falling off the cliff into the land of unemployment (~$400 a week). Ouch, that is going to hurt.
In preparation of going income statement poor, I am reviewing fixed costs a second time through. This time, I am taking a much closer look at every recurring expense going out the door. Its time to buckle down. No buying anything that is an absolute necessity. Time to really minimize every expense.
Its amazing how quick the anxiety and depression swooped down to bite at me after receiving this nice dose of bad news today. Its going to be a challenge to ward this off. Not the best start to 2019. Along with the substantial loss I experienced over the past few months in my brokerage accounts due to the market sell off, these two new pieces of bad news are a real kick in the balls. Ay-yi-yi … what type of reality is in store for this worst case scenario?
Let the games re-begin…. wish me luck. I’m going to need every bit I can possibly find.