Whenever there are talks of a possible recession and reports of mass layoffs, there's always that fear that you might be next on the chopping block. (And hugs and love to you if you've recently felt the dread and sting of no longer being employed. I've been there.) As with anything in life, it's a good idea to be prepared for the best—and the worst—when it comes to your career, especially since the unemployment rate for Black women over 20 rose more than 5%.
While I know it's already challenging to handle the bare requirements of adulting and survival, there are ways you can practice something called "career cushioning" where you ensure that you're always booked and busy regardless of the economy or your company's up-and-down budget restraints. It's like when you're dating and keeping your options open. You might like that day job, but you're always checking for what else is out there and ready to pull the plug if something better comes along or you're no longer fulfilled.
1. Be sure your skills are transferable and up-to-date.
Any talents that make you unique and top-tier are to be cherished and nurtured. So if you have the gift of gab, play close attention to detail, are super-organized, are great with numbers, have a unique way of presenting ideas, or you're super-creative, these are all soft skills you can use at almost any job and in almost any role if you leverage them properly.
Transferable skills are those you can use across industries, like effective communication, tech savvy, adaptility, or excellent leadership. Think about our favorite bosses, like Rihanna, Oprah, Courtney Adeleye, or Pinky Cole. All of these women have diverse skills and passions and have not only reinvent themselves, but make money putting their multi-hyphenate talents to good use.
Document what you're great at and keep track of how that has manifested through successful completion of projects, company results, sales numbers, and other factors that show you're a competitive and competent professional in your field.
Also, make sure your knowledge and training are up-to-date, that you're tech-proficient, and if further education is required for an advanced degree, certifications, or updates, you're on top of them.
2. Keep a side-hustle going.
Not everyone is into have a whole second job or business, but if this is something you've been dreaming about doing, now is the time to start. And it doesn't have to be something expensive, time-consuming, or stressful. If its within your company contract limits and does not serve as a conflict of interest, try doing something different but related to the work you're already doing.
Need a bit of inspiration? Look to Emmelie De La Cruz, Mercedes Smith, or Melissa Carnagie. They've all turned side hustles into thriving businesses.
If you have a hobby or talent you can monetize (like crafts, fashion design, entertaining, or teaching) try doing that one or two days a week or building up a full part-time business around it. This is especially important if you already feel burned out and want to leave your job anyway.
3. Network for job leads—and even interview—while employed.
Oftentimes, people find new opportunities through their personal and professional network, and for those who are thinking about self-employment as their next step, this is especially important. The best client and job leads can come from someone you've worked with, go to church with, or a fellow member of an organization.
If interviewing while you still have a job, be sure you're not breaking any contract rules associated with your employment and check the details on your applicable non-compete agreements.
If there are no issues there, there's no harm in interviewing elsewhere even if it's just for the practice or to see what's out there. Informational interviews are still a thing, so you can try that route as well. Plus, if your company happens to lay you off, you'll already have recruiter numbers and contacts who were already interested in you anyway, making the process of finding new employment that much easier.
4. Cultivate an intra-company network of mentors, work besties, and advocates.
When we think about keeping our options open, oftentimes there's a sense that the options have to be outside of our current employer. However, you never know if maybe a better role or opportunity might be at your same company, just in a different department. Also, coming from someone who has been on both sides of a layoff, oftentimes certain people are kept simply due to the fact that they had more supporters and advocates at the company rooting for them to be retained. And even during the times in my career where I was laid off, my network was essential in the quick rebound I experienced each time.
Authentically network and partner with people in multiple departments where it makes sense, and be of service when you can. It shouldn't be some fake, surface connecting that screams, 'I'll use you if I need to.'
Open yourself up to learn new things and meet new people, get to know how others do their jobs (without being too intrusive), network sideways (like our good sis Issa Rae recommended) and stop skipping those company happy hours. Another good way to network is to volunteer for the causes or nonprofit events that your company's leaders are passionate about.
5. Stay connected to your college's alumni resources.
After a certain number of years being away from the yard, many of us sleep on alumni services. Big mistake. Sometimes you can get job search aid, find out ways you can advance your education, or connect with others in your industry who might not only be friends but future colleagues.
It doesn't matter if you graduated two or 20 years ago, being an alumni of your school is still important, and those resources are there for a reason. Tap in today and enjoy reconnecting with your peers while strengthening yet another career safety net.
6. Always think outside the box when it comes to types of jobs and roles you can fill.
If you've been known for one job or skill for a long time and have been great at it, it can be hard to imagine doing anything else. And while some of us think we have job security due to the years we've given an industry or company, things can change quicker than the time it takes to get coffee from the break room.
Be proactive about how your skills and training can be used for different types of jobs or for a whole different industry altogether. If you love public speaking or making TikTok videos, why not level up and pitch yourself to brands or organizations?
If you've made advancements or innovations in your industry or have a fresh take on a trending issue, write a blog or book or try consulting. Also, open up your horizons to working in other markets or even another country, and find ways to be strategic to position yourself to transfer and travel if necessary.
7. Get your financial house in order.
Whatever job you take, be sure you've taken advantage of all of the benefits, profit-sharing, retirement funding, and other financial resources available to you so that if you have to leave that company, you can cash in or rebuild your emergency reserves. And don't sleep on insurance, real estate, or stock market investments.
It's such a relief when you have a bit of financial cushioning to soften the blow of a job termination, making it all the more blissful for you to simply focus on either taking a break or going for the next opportunity coming your way, refreshed and ready to excel. I once used my severance and savings to consult full-time and travel. It was the best three years of my life.
If you're not sure about benefits and financial resources at your current job, ask your boss, the HR director, or a professional at your bank about your options. Write down a layoff plan (or create a Google Doc or spreadsheet) and get to know where your money is and how it's flowing (i.e. that budget sis), so that you can be prepared in case of a sudden job loss. For many of us, a recession-proof career lies solely in having financial freedom, and that's a real boss move.
Bonus: If you're unhappy at work or don't enjoy your career, pivot.
Knowing when it's time to throw in the towel on that job when things just aren't working—when you're disgruntled, bored, stuck, or simply not being challenged—is super-important, especially since those negative feelings will eventually show up in the quality of work that you do. And while performance isn't the end-all-be-all to reasons why people get laid off, it can be a major defining factor depending on the circumstances. (And if we're talking about getting fired, sis, you don't want that smoke. I know some of y'all work in industries where licenses could be suspended or revoked, or you could face fines and jail time due to neglect, underlying anger, or exhaustion.)
Why waste more time at a job or in a field that you don't truly give a damn about? Being on a road of self-learning and self-exploration can lead you to sustainable career fulfillment despite the poor state of the economy.
Get to know your values, why you do the work that you do, how it affects your wellness, and how it contributes to the quality of life you dream of having, and use that foundational knowledge as your guide to ensuring that you're always the leader of the pack and winning no matter what.
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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