Top 12 Healthy Ways To Cope with Unemployment
At some point, most of us will be forced to cope with unemployment. Whether you’re going through a transition due to a personal choice, or due to conditions beyond your control, unemployment can mess with your head.
And, when you’re unemployed you need these 12 essentials to stay on track, refresh your credentials and keep your mindset positive. Handling unemployment can be tough! I worked with eight different individuals over the past few months who are recently unemployed or seeking some type of job transition due to a layoff, job loss, or personal life change.
When the job market is tough (or even if you are gainfully employed and are considering a new job opportunity), it’s never too early to take a cold, hard look at your current situation and brush up your resume!
Here are the Top 12 healthy ways to cope with unemployment.
1. Let the dust settle…
invariably, the first step during any job change is to allow yourself to let the dust settle. One of my clients showed up at my doorstep on the evening of the day he received the “news” of his pending layoff. He knew I did career coaching and helped people with their resumes – but he was in NO SHAPE (at that time) to begin the resume review process.
He was still struggling with the shock of the news. Shock is a real, tangible response to job loss. And it’s important to note that a job loss can also feel like grieving. In fact, you may not even recognize your own symptoms. So when you let the dust settle, you’ll have some time to just be, before you begin to look forward.
2. Take some time for yourself
When you are first unemployed, you’ll likely go through a period of newfound freedom. But, too often, it’s short-lived. It’s important to take some time for yourself. And especially if you have lived to work.
This reality is SO important to consider during a job transition. So many people get so bogged down by having their job DEFINE who they are, what they like, and what they make important.
I had a business colleague who was hired after his own transitional period of unemployment. I always admired his attitude about his time of transition. He treated his unemployment period as if it were temporary. Instead of suffering, he worked on side jobs that he’d always wanted to try. For instance, he helped out a friend at a florist shop, waited tables, played music, volunteered at non-profit events, worked out at the gym, and carried on as if his life were worth living.
But don’t stop your job search…
Additionally, he spent concentrated time weekly searching for a job. Instead of overdoing the search, he maintained his social schedule as if he were still working: attending gatherings and an occasional dinner out with friends. For extras, he used his credit cards, but his temporary employment jobs paid the bills.
Throughout the time of unemployment, he kept his mindest positive. His position was clear: when the right job came, he’d accept a job again at an appropriate salary. Once employed, he’d work toward paying off any debt he’d amassed during his time off.
So, it’s important to take time to do things you love without the excuse of letting work get in the way. When the time is right, a job will come – but you’ll never have NOW again. Do something NOW that you’ve postponed because of work.
3. Take a deep look inside yourself to build awareness
While you’re unemployed, it’s a great time to take an honest look at yourself. What are your strengths, weaknesses, and skills? How do those influence—positively or negatively—your transition? Sit down and list your skills and assets.
Now’s the time to consider what you really want in your future. Crystalize this idea into the vision of what you’d like to have in your life with your next career step. Write this vision statement of yourself on card stock and post it in a prominent place as a way to sharpen your focus and have a constant reminder.
4. Step up self-care to cope with unemployment
Major changes are physically and emotionally taxing. You need self-care now more than ever. Take time DAILY to do something that serves you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Don’t compromise. Just do it… and see what happens when you boost your endorphins and give yourself the space to feel good.
5. It’s time to shift from criticism to curiosity
When you’ve created some space from the job loss – it’s time to begin your transition. To functionally cope with unemployment, take a curious look at your current conditions.
Now’s a good time to assess what might have gone wrong. Additionally, it’s a great time to review your strengths and review what went right with your former job. As a result, you’ll be more able to create a balanced approach and understanding of your past job.
To grow, now’s a good time to explore what you may have done better in your previous job. Think about what worked really well for you in the previous job. Perhaps you can list aspects of your past job successes. What results did you bring forth? How will you share with a potential employer why you lost your job?
Consider taking this to the next level by crafting appropriate interview statements that demonstrate past situations. Coming to grips with your personal hindrances and obstacles of past employment can help you paint a more realistic picture for future interviews.
Identify the actions you took, emotional responses, and lessons learned. Potential interviewers will be interested in what you are great at, what you know, and what you’ve learned from past experiences.
6. To cope with unemployment look backward and retrace your steps
To help clients cope with unemployment, I recommend clients create a Job History Timeline. Get an oversized piece of paper, or tape three together, and draw a yearly timeline across the top that represents your working life from your very first job. Brainstorm a list of all the jobs you’ve ever had. Assign approximate dates and times to the jobs.
Once you’ve listed your jobs on a timeline, draw a t-line underneath each job title and list what you liked (+) and didn’t like (-) about each. Review each job and what was either atisfying or demotivating in each one.
Focusing on your past experience and what you’ve loved (or didn’t) can help re-connect and refresh your inner curiosity and passion… especially if it’s been squashed by big business, exhaustion, or an inappropriate career fit. Reconnecting with the level of satisfaction you’ve experienced in past jobs will help you gain perspective and motivation to look for certain qualities in your next career move.
7. Figure out what you want
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for adults dealing with unemployment is to answer this question: “What do I want?” It is a “stop-in-your-tracks” question that I ask quite frequently as a career coach, and it never ceases to amaze me how many people can NOT answer it for themselves. What do you want for your next 2 years, 5 years, 10 years? Go for what you want and keep your eye on the prize.
8. Find your joy and satisfaction
Use this slip in time to engage in something new that you’ve always wanted to try. Don’t just focus on what satisfies you within the scope of a prospective job, but also what satisfies you personally. While you’re unemployed, it’s a GREAT time to knock off a few things that may be on your bucket list: sky diving, belly dancing, yoga training, painting, golf lessons… try on whatever you’ve said: “I’d love to do ____ if I weren’t WORKING”.
9. To cope with unemployment get support
Support can be a trusted friend, a coach, a counselor, a career center, or even someone who’s been there before. Enroll people on your unemployment journey. Since your transition affects your family as well, it may be helpful to seek the outside support of friends or professionals. Utilize the freedom, flexibility, and universality of Social Media engines to help you network and get to people who may be able to help you. It takes a village to find a job these days, and you never know who knows whom until you enroll others in your search.
10. Shape-shift your thoughts
Calm your fears and reinforce your sense of hope and happiness daily. The people who follow the well-known advice of “the secret” know – that putting your thoughts out in the world makes them a reality. To survive a period of unemployment avoid searching until you’re bleary-eyed looking for one more open job. Instead, focus on what you’d like next, ask for it, involve others, and quell your fear and shame-filled thoughts of loss and scarcity.
11. To healthily cope with unemployment, let go of how things are “supposed to be”
When you let go of what was and begin to accept “what is now”, you move into the present moment. This is the only moment you can control.
Unemployment can breed negativity. Instead, find appreciation for what is. “Should be’s” are usually things we think in our heads, and are attributed to other’s expectations! Letting go of how it should be is a wonderful example of surrender.
12. Keep things in perspective
I often think of the first time I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in SanFrancisco, CA. I was simply amazed. At the bridge entry point, it was cold, rainy and so foggy we couldn’t see more than 20 feet ahead. Yet, as we traveled across the bridge in our convertible, the air currents shifted, and swiftly – the fog literally disappeared. It has always stayed with me as such a strong experience in perspective for me. The sunlight is always there, despite the fog all around that might be clouding your view. Job transition can be a wonderful time to try on a new perspective. Don’t let yourself get stuck in the fog. Just keep moving forward, the air currents will shift and the view will change. Remember, the only real constant is change itself.
If you are facing a job change and would like some counseling, help, and guidance to revamp your resume and refresh your credentials, let’s connect. I offer a complimentary Discovery Call to determine if we’re a fit. When working with clients through a career transition, I provide a personalized and private resume review, in a Resume Rescue Package. I also provide weekly guidance to hold you accountable and help you put your best foot forward.