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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Kirschaum

Leaving your job? Here's what to put in your "go-bag"

Stepping down into the last room in the house, my foot submerged in an inch of cold water before hitting the floor.  A decade ago, when I came to Key West for what I thought would be a month-long sabbatical, I stopped checking the weather report after the second week.  It always said the same thing, “Partly cloudy. Chance of rain.” Every day it was sunny.

Among other things, I learned every time it rains more than 10 consecutive minutes, it floods somewhere on this tiny island.

Maybe that's why this weekend, when the weather app on my phone warned “Flood Watch” in orange letters, I didn’t pay much attention.  It rained all day Saturday. The water crept up the brick walkaway and the intersection down the street flooded.    Not a big deal. I’d seen that before.  Even when the water gained 6 more feet and was at the bottom step. I wasn't rattled. I’d seen it before…  But it kept raining late into the night. The rain woke me up.  Now it was dark and strange outside.

When I opened my door, coconuts were floating around in the yard, which was now in water to just below my knee.

I realized these flood warnings were more dire. Around 11:00 p.m. calculating the house would be flooded in 40 minutes if the rain didn't stop, I started throwing together a “go-bag” and picking up things off the floor - luggage, a rug, storage bags under the bed... 


Your "go-bag" has the important things in one place, so you can throw in the final two or three items and be out the door feeling good and (more or less) in control.

As opposed to feeling panicked and trash talking yourself for not preparing for whatever hell is ensuing.

Two more inches and it would be in the door.  If my car would even start, I knew it would likely stall out on a flooded street leaving me in a worse situation. If I left, I’d have to walk through the same streets that were now too treacherous for my car in a rainstorm that would make Noah say, “I TOLD YOU SO!” At some point, I remembered promising my neighbor I’d "keep an eye" on things.

By the time I walked next door, the electricity was out. "Now we got a party", I thought. In the white glow of my flashlight, everything was okay. Cool and dry. "Thank God,"  Then I stepped 5 inches down into the lowest room of the house and my foot was immediately submerged in cool water.  Uh-oh.  Bag in hand, I was ready to walk out when the rain started easing off.  Within 20 minutes it stopped. After midnight, it was over.  By 3 a.m., the water had receded back the six feet it had gained so rapidly.  Those coconuts settled against the fence like party revelers who woke up in a strange house: hungover and a little confused. The moral of the story?

Whatever’s coming is coming faster than you think. Be ready with that go-bag.

While you wait for "something" to happen in your job hunt or career, the water rises, drowning your options along the way.

How do you know what to put in your go-bag? Ask...

  1. What do you need to live? **Make a List of what you want to take with you when a force majeure arrives in your career.

  2. What will you need to generate income?

  3. Who can you DEPEND on to help? Who cares about you and has been where you are? Isolation can facilitate panic, which generates bad choices and all that can bring on shame, which is dumb and undeserved, but so real.

  4. What's the imminent danger you need to get away from? (Almost always this is what's making you feel panic.) Also note: what are the next two dangers? Citing these now will keep them from taking you by surprise.

  5. Do you want to come back to the place you're leaving? Or is this forced exit a blessing in disguise? Knowing you're not returning may alter how you answer question #1

To have a career "go-bag" and be uncommonly well-prepared for what's next, register for my upcoming workshop:

The Five Mistakes Even Smart Job Seekers Make (and how to avoid them)

Check out the details here. 

Stay safe and dry. Courtney

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