Coping With Unemployment
I’ve been in transition since October of 2018. Unfortunately, most of us, or someone close to us, have been unemployed at one point or another. It’s a difficult time for so many reasons. Between fears of “what ifs” and the unknown of how long, it’s easy to become an emotional wreck. Layer that with the highs and lows of the application and interviewing process, it’s an emotional rollercoaster.
When you’re in the throes of transition, it’s hard to believe that it is temporary and that you WILL work again. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for August 2019, the average duration of unemployment was 22.1 weeks. Said differently, if you lose your job today or tomorrow, you can expect to be unemployed for almost 6 months. I know, I know, that’s a long time. But in the context of working for roughly 35-45 years over a lifetime, give or take, 6 months is just a blip.
So, what else can you do with yourself besides look for a new job? Here are a few thoughts:
Get Connected – Make sure that everybody you know knows that you’re looking. Between sharing information about jobs they’ve heard about and putting you in touch with other people, you’d be surprised at how many people are willing to help during this time. Also, expand your circle; that’s right network. Use LinkedIn to reconnect or to be introduced to people at companies of interest. Attend networking events and follow-up with people that you meet. Trust me, most people have been there before and are happy to help.
Stay Busy – One of the hardest things for me is to NOT be productive. I’m a Type A personality so I REALLY have a tough time when I’m in transition. What gets me through is DOING STUFF. This is a good time to do some of those things that you don’t have time for when you’re working. Volunteer, exercise or have a standing coffee (or tea as it is with me and Dame Mica) with a friend. You might even think about getting a gig or starting a new side hustle. There’s an entire gig economy loaded with service roles like grocery shopping, walking dogs and driving folks around. Yours truly has been doing Uber off and on for months. (In fact, it actually helped me with my small talk struggles.) Staying busy has been a Godsend for me and has truly kept me from going off the deep end J. My guess is that it will do the same for you.
Try Something New – Take a class to make you more marketable or try a new experience. Interested in learning more about Microsoft Outlook? Look for free classes at your local Department of Labor. Thought about writing poetry? Grab a journal & a pen and go for it! Always wanted to learn how to paint? Go to one of those paint & sip spots that have sprung up everywhere. Are you a Cardio girl? Partner that cardio with weight lifting. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you become tone. OK, ok; I trust that I made my point. Trying something new expands our minds and teaches us new things.
Manage Your Money – I don’t know about you, but an unemployment time of 6 months (or more) is a long-time to not have consistent income. So, manage your money wisely. Set-up payment plans wherever you can. Eliminate most “nice to have” expenses (like those lovely shoes that you’ve been eyeing) and focus on the basics (i.e., rent/mortgage, food, utilities, etc.) for now. Get the Unemployment benefits that are due to you. Not only are you probably eligible for weekly Unemployment payments but you might also be eligible for medical benefits too.
Be Good To You – Last but not least, PLEASE make an effort to be good to yourself. I started this blog by talking about how stressful this season is. Find ways to lighten the heaviness and brighten your day. Try prayer or meditation; there’s something calming, peaceful, and even joyful, about grounding yourself in your faith. Allow yourself to have a weekly treat. Whether it’s a manicure, $7 coffee or lunch with a friend, do something that will make you feel good about you.
Before you know it you’ll be working again. Won’t it be awesome to look back on this time and be able to smile about some of the experiences you’ve had? I know I will.
Sources: How Long Does it Take To Find A Job, September 27, 2019, thebalancecareers.com.