Leaving my current position was not an easy decision, especially with the state of the current economy. I don’t have a job lined up or any immediate plans to attend graduate school. All in all, the future may appear dismal at this point. Yet, I am still optimistic with the hope that everything will work itself out.

Fortunately, I planned accordingly for this decision and am taking the steps necessary to survive the tough times.

Here is a list of things I had to consider…

1. My personal finances

In my opinion, this is the most important topic to consider when you find yourself without a job. What do you do when your source of income completely vanishes?

Throughout my career, I had built significant cash reserves in preparation for a job loss. Most personal finance advisers suggest holding at least 6 months worth of cash reserves to protect yourself. Fortunately, I’ve actually accumulated over a year’s worth of reserves. This provides me with substantial time (hopefully) to allow everything to fall into place.

Additionally, I am placing myself on a strict budget. Before, I would occasionally splurge at the bar or during trips to the mall. In the mean time, those splurges are completely eliminated. My expenditures will only be for food, bills, and personal necessities.

Lastly, I’ve considered returning home to my parents. This will allow me to stretch my savings even further, just in case. Overall, I believe being cautious in managing my money is the most secure route for me.

2. My future options

So, now what? I have a few options moving forward in establishing my career.  My first option, which I have considered for a very long time, is to attend graduate school. My field of interest is health care policy, an area that I was exposed to at one of my internships during undergrad. My plan would be to study for the GRE and apply to graduate school by December 2009. I would then be considered a candidate for the fall 2010 admission.

Another option is to utilize some old contacts and make my way back into the public sector, working in state or local government. My preference would be to work in a health agency, again furthering my interest in health care policy. Although I highly doubt my salary would match what I was earning in the private sector, I believe this career change would provide for a better work/life balance and will be better aligned with my personal and career goals.

My last, and perhaps most desperate option, is to pick up any job that becomes available… whether it be in retail or sales. I doubt this would happen, but it is an option. I would rather be advancing my career as opposed to placing myself in some type of perpetual stalemate just to get by.

3. My family and friends

Immediately after making my decision, I consulted my family and friends. They were more shocked than I thought they would be. From their perspective, it seemed like I was doing well and was secure. But, from my perspective, I was working way too much and did not have the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends.

Fortunately, my parents and friends have been incredibly supportive. More supportive than I could have ever imagined. My parents respect my decision and have offered any assistance I may need; financial, personal, anything. Likewise, my friends have offered to pass on my resume, provide guidance… anything.

Indeed, I am truly blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

4. My personal life

Not having a job to wake up to can be pretty dramatic. My daily routine has done a complete 180. As I begin to accept the weight of responsibility I no longer carry, I am taking some personal time to myself. I’m doing a little reading, some blogging, and just plain relaxing. I cannot begin to describe to you how great this feels. Its like having summer break all over again!

Whew, I do have a lot to do in the near future. For you readers out there, if you still exist, I will chronicle my continual journey through this thing we call… life.