Favorite Friday: Water Damage Is Expensive – Don’t Neglect Your “House”

I loved this post. It was like the post I hated my lawnmower, which was about a stupid problem I had for a long time, until I figured out the fix was quick and free.

In our job search we might have problems that are really resolved quite easily, quickly, and at no cost.

The water damage post was more about long-term neglect of a little problem that could get out of control and have huge consequences.  I’m including the text here (with some edits and reformatting), but be sure to go to the original post to read the comments.  Then leave your own comment on this post, or the one from 2007 .

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 hot, and water condenses on the pipe. Lots of water – and it drips quite a bit.

Whew! 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 can be really dangerous and expensive to ignore. They should not be neglected.

Last year when I got laid off I neglected a number of things. Below is a short, incomplete list of things that I regret neglecting. I still stand by my March 8th (2007) post Chicken List Is Out – Now Put Away The Honey-Do List! where I talk about not hiding behind home improvement 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Do not neglect your physical health. I remember my “office” in the early days of my job search: 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, and done crunches and push-ups and all those free things you can do without a gym membership. I should have eaten breakfast each day (oatmeal is cheap and very healthy), and watched what I ate during the day.
  3. Do not neglect your mental health. This is such an emotional time. My severance was running out quickly and the prospects didn’t seem good. I did not get the mental and emotional nurturing that I needed. This nurturing would have better prepared me for the interviews that I had. 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.
  4. Do not neglect “outside” things. The water leaks. The bills. The other obligations that you must take care of.  I’m not saying you have permission to do all the around-the-house 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/we needed to address. I can’t remember what those might have been last year, but being on the same page would prevent problems and reduce stress in our relationship.

It’s been 15 months since I was laid off. 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 better than mine were.

Finally, this advice/warning applies whether you are in a job search or not. What are you neglecting? How are you going to remedy that?

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