Four Things to Keep in Mind During Times of Unemployment
I was putting on a smile during the day but on the inside, I was dying. I felt like I had lost my dignity because I’m no longer seen as a “productive member” of society. I would sit on my couch for days just watching Netflix scrolling through ZipRecruiter only to have no one call me back. Eventually the dark circles under my eyes, the weight gain, and the low, monotone essence of my voice made it clear to everyone around me I was incredibly depressed. Alcohol and Grubhub don’t make it any easier to want to go out and be social. The day came however when the interviews did start picking back up and I had to walk in looking like a winner. But already, it became very apparent that I wasn’t giving off the best first impression during those interviews. As I started working again I realized that during my time of unemployment, I wasted many opportunities to work on myself so when I started my next job, I could start on the right foot and hit the ground running. The big question was, however, how do I make a bad situation into something beneficial?
Sometimes unemployment is called “Funemployment” so we can mask the feelings of confusion, sadness, and irrelevance that can often hit us like a flood when we don’t have a backup plan. Sometimes the situation is a relief, sometimes it could feel like the worst thing that could happen to us. The challenge going forward, however, is this- do we choose to move past it to let the situation drag us down? Here are four factors to keep in mind as you encounter a period “funemployment.”
“I think that life is difficult. People have challenges. Family members get sick, people get older, you don't always get the job or the promotion that you want. You have conflicts in your life. And really, life is about your resilience and your ability to go through your life and all of the ups and downs with a positive attitude.” ~Jennifer Hyman
I went from waking up at six am, eating breakfast, and prepping my clothes the night before to waking up whenever, letting laundry pile up, and looking like a real “before” photo of myself. Yes, my home and professional situation wasn’t a great one but there was only one poison in my life making me the worst version of myself- me and me only.
People generally like routines, or at least I do. A life without instruction or standards can be like a brief vacation for a while until we start to begin feeling like we are spirally out of control. Mental health is a key issue when the only person to really keep you accountable is yourself. You are the only cheerleader you have, you are the only one who can make you do anything. Keeping a positive mental outlook on the situation is key to finding a new job or career and is also essential to use this opportunity to come out of it as a better person.
Take this time to start a new hobby or reconnect with one that you may not have been able to grant much time to while you were working. Keeping yourself mentally stimulated is incredibly important to your own mental health, sense of worth, and personal development. One time I was unemployed I started two new additional passive income streams, so think of this as a time to perhaps get your finances in order.
“You can look in the mirror and find a million things wrong with yourself. Or you can look in the mirror and think, 'I feel good, I have my health, and I'm so blessed.' That's the way I choose to look at it.” ~Isla Fisher
They call it the “couch potato” for a reason, and we’ve all been there, that moment your “fat clothes” start to get tighter and you realize the food you’ve been consuming is far from a recommended daily diet.
If you’re like me, you don’t really pay as much attention to your diet or fitness when you are working in a time intensive and demanding job. You can’t control many of the circumstances in your life as things are thrown at you, but you can control yourself. Fitness and proper diet are key to a positive outlook and mentality and allow you to focus on the goal setting and routines that kept you on a productive track.
In a practical sense, this also gives you an amazing opportunity to lose some weight, look, and feel better so this way all of that gym mojo can transfer over to those interviews so you can start making some money again. The truth is looks do matter in our world, and being physically active and setting achievable goals will help your mental state in ways many other things can’t, so might as well hit up the gym and give Netflix a break!
“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” ~Buddha
If you are not a person of faith, this still applies to you. Often during times of hardship, we ask ourselves “why?” Why is this happening to me? Why is my self-worth without a job or role to define me? See this as a journey of self-discovery as you are forced to rediscover yourself as an individual and not by how others need you to be. Finding purpose through self-realization is key as we are now on a path where someone isn’t there to walk with us.
One thing that helped me is I started volunteering with my local church, going to group Bible studies, service, and other activities. It kept me busy, productive, and I met a whole ton of brand new friends along the way because of a regular schedule of shared interests that made me feel better about myself as a person.
“The temptation to take the easy road is always there. It is as easy as staying in bed in the morning and sleeping in. But discipline is paramount to ultimate success and victory for any leader and any team.” ~Jocko Willink
Alcohol can become a problem and you don’t have to be an alcoholic to understand that. Alcohol consumption and other habits that enforce self-loathing thoughts such as sleeping in and never leaving the house will truly turn you into the poison you want to avoid during
this period, because the truth is the only person who will be able to drag you out of it, sadly, is you and no one else.
Everything is leading up to this, what President George W.Bush defined as “decision points” where we can define the situation or we can let the situation make us. You have feelings, but you control your mind. You can’t always control time, but you can control how you use that time. You can let society and other people define your value and worth, but you can declare that part definitely yourself.