For months now, I’ve been battling through my second bout with unemployment. There have been many ups and downs, more lows than highs. But as it comes to an end and I have looked back, I’ve realized that I learned so much along the way. It’s not easy, but if you play your cards right, you can turn unemployment into a beautiful, productive situation.
1. Don’t be ashamed.
There are millions upon millions of unemployed people around the world. Most likely, everyone will go through it at some point in their lives. Don’t be embarrassed of your struggle. Instead, embrace it and capitalize on how it makes you feel. Be proud of who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Around others, you may fear the dreaded question, “And what do you do?” It was one of the worst things to hear at a party or among acquaintances. I discovered that if I simply responded with my goals and what I was striving for, the responses became easier each time.
On that same note, I despised when people asked me, “How’s the job hunt going?” All this question seemed to do was remind me of my current situation and drag me down further and further, and it was often the first thing out of people’s mouths.
Then I looked at who was asking the question. Good friends, close family, people who loved me and truly cared about me. Once I stopped thinking about how it made ME feel and realized they were simply showing love, it didn’t bother me as much.
2. Recognize that a job doesn't define you, and discover your true self again.
When I got laid off, I discovered that I had lost a lot of my true self while in my previous position. I put far too much worth in my title and company, and not nearly enough on what I was passionate about. I began listening to music I hadn’t heard in years, playing basketball, writing, volunteering more, and reading books again.
It was refreshing to get back to being 100% me; my wife even noticed. I didn’t feel entitled to anything or place self-worth in representing a brand. I became more compassionate and began to understand again what was truly important.
I learned not to associate who you are with a title or company, but to define yourself with the things you do when you come home, and the family that gives you a reason to go to work in the first place.
3. Don’t hold grudges.
Being angry about your situation and blaming others will only end up hurting you. Those you hold anger for most likely won’t know it, and it won’t affect them at all. Once you learn to let go and replace your contempt with love, you’ll realize the significance a simple change in perspective can have.
I was hurt by my layoff, and felt betrayed at first. But I changed my attitude and chose to remember it as an opportunity that I had and enjoyed. I learned to remember the good times my coworkers and I shared instead of focusing on the separation. In turn, I was a happier person and realized that this was a change in my life to be excited about, not to dwell on.
4. EXERCISE and do your best to keep a schedule.
These may be the most important. Make an effort to get outside every day and be active. Sitting in front of a computer, blasting off resume after resume and checking social media in between won't make you happy. I found my spirits were highest on days when I was away from screens. I did what I needed to do on the computer, then called it a day to go do something I enjoyed or knew would be good for me.
Schedules can provide some structure and balance to a situation that may sometimes feel helpless otherwise. If you provide yourself with things to do and places to be, even when you don’t want to, you’ll recognize the difference in your mood and sense of well-being.
5. Be confident.
Always remember that this is a short period in your life that does not define you in any way. Hold your head high and smile. There will most definitely be times when you'll feel low and detached from society, but force yourself to be productive during those times, and you’ll notice the benefits afterward. If doing it for yourself isn’t enough to motivate you, think of someone you love and let them be your motivation. There are people who believe in you, even when you don’t think it’s true.
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