I work in my basement. Periodically there has been a weird leak from the ceiling in my office closet – and I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. The pipe in question is the main water pipe that delivers water to my entire house (sounding expensive yet?). After about a year of trying to figure it the problem, it finally hit me. The cold water pipe is in the same run between joists as the dryer exhaust. When we turn the dryer on that area gets really hot and water condenses on the pipe. Lots of water – and it drips quite a bit.
Whew! At least we don’t have to have a plumber come fix anything! I just need to put some insulation on the pipe and it should be good!
I could have continued to ignore this – but water is so damaging. It can create the perfect environment for mold, it can make things rot, it can mess up a foundation… water problems are really dangerous and expensive to ignore. They should not be neglected.
Last year when I got laid off I neglected a number of things. I thought I’d put together a list of things that I regret neglecting, and hope that it helps you. I still stand by my March 8th post Chicken List Is Out – Now Put Away The Honey-Do List! where I talk about not hiding behind projects while you ignore things you need to do in your job search. That post was about non-essential projects – this post is about things that, if neglected, will have profound consequences.
- Do not neglect your family. My wife and I are a team. I often take that for granted. About a month into unemployment someone asked her “How’s Jason doing?” Her reply was “I don’t know – we don’t talk much anymore.” You see, I was trying to be strong and positive for her and the kids. And she was trying to be strong a supportive for me. And during all of this time of being strong, we were neglecting our relationship. Remedy: I should have had a weekly date night with my wife, and at least one date with each kid. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it can simply be a trip to the park for some quality “how ya doin’?” talk. But it needs to be regular, not rushed, and one-on-one.
- Do not neglect your physical health. I remember my “office” – it was the reclining chair in my bedroom. I would sit there for about 10 hours each day as I looked for postings to apply to, tweaked my resume, wrote custom cover letters, did company research, etc. 10 hours of sitting is not uncommon but when I had a job I’d go on 3-mile walks during lunch. Now I was basically rolling from bed-to-chair and back again at night. I didn’t even go up and down the basement stairs. I skipped meals (somehow the money could stretch if I didn’t eat, right?). I neglected my health and even now I am paying the price for a non-active lifestyle for so long. Remedy: I should have started each day with a 20 minute walk each morning, and done crunches and pushups and all those free things regularly. And I should have eaten breakfast each day (oatmeal is cheap and very healthy), and watched what I ate during the day.
- Do not neglect your mental health. This is such an emotional time – my severence was running out quickly and the prospects didn’t seem good. I did not get the mental and emotional nurturing that I needed – this is nurturing that would have better-prepared me for the interviews that I had, as it would have helped me maintain a big-picture perspective. Remedy: I should have picked one book or learning project that I could dig into to sharpen my saw, but kept it in check with my job search schedule. I really should have sought out friends that I could learn from, or share ideas with. That is one of the reasons networking is so powerful in a job search – but for 2 months I did not network at all. Not good.
- Do not neglect “outside” things. These are water leaks. Or bills. Or other obligations that you must take care of. Again, I’m not saying you have permission to go do all the projects you’ve been wanting to do – but if there is something that is critical then address it before it becomes a very expensive and complex problem. Remedy: I should have taken time with my wife to create a list of the urgent things that I needed to address. I can’t remember what they might have been last year, but being on the same page would prevent problems and reduce stress.
It’s been 15 months since I was laid off – and I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about neglecting my wife (see #1). It was a personal experience for me, and I’m ashamed of it. But it happened – hopefully reading this list will help you make sure your priorities are in order.
This applies whether you are in a job search or not – what are you neglecting? How are you going to remedy that?