When you lose your job, you lose control over a big part of your life. It’s this lack of control that feeds the anxiety we all feel when we are between gigs. We don’t have a daily routine. We don’t have control over our finances. We don’t know how much time we have before we start back at work. It’s hard to make plans. Being in a state of limbo is frustrating; being worried about money doesn’t help.
If you’re new to unemployment, the loss of control is a much bigger emotional challenge than the task of finding a new job. Trust me, you WILL find another job! Nevertheless, being without a job is a huge disruption to a well-established life routine. Without a job, people struggle to structure their day, some find they can’t, and so begins the downward spiral. The time passes quickly (another thing over which you have no control). You become more anxious and irritable (or blue and withdrawn), which only compounds the feelings of helplessness.
If you can control it, do so. If you can’t, let it go.
Worrying isn’t action.
Of course, you can – and should – do everything possible to look for a job but you cannot control when you’ll actually go back to work. Focus on what you can control – which is everything else in your life.
Keep Your Routine
Get out of bed the same time you did when you were employed; it’s too easy to let the morning slip by sleeping in. Get up, clean up, get dressed. Use the time you would have spent commuting to take the dog out for a walk, hit the gym, or an early morning yoga class before settling down to your computer.
Don’t lie to yourself that you have time, and will do it “later.” We know how that conversation ends, right? Keep your morning routine. It ensures you are more productive when you’re unemployed, and the structure will help you easily settle back into your new routine when you get back to work.
Lose Some Weight
You can’t make any excuses for being a slug. You didn’t make it out for a walk today because…. You didn’t go to the gym because…. Why? You’re sooo busy? Really? Busy doin’ what? You DON’T have a job!
Similarly, the largest part of our discretionary income goes to food. If you’re between jobs, you have zero reason not to prepare food from scratch. Pull out the recipe books, plan your menu(s), prepare your food, and actually do some cooking! Eating well is good for your weight, good for your budget, and good for your relationship. If your SO is working, coming home to a nice meal (rather than you lying on the sofa playing Fortnite), will make arguments about how you spent your day far less likely.
Similarly, resist the temptation to party like a rock star on school nights. Having an occasional late night is small consolation for being out of work, but don’t make it a habit. Hangovers make you sluggish, irritable, and if you’re blue about being unemployed, it will make it worse.
Nothing will make you feel less confident and more out of control than being bloated, over-weight, hung-over, AND unemployed! You have the time to develop better habits, and zero reason not to do so. Don’t drink too much; don’t sooth yourself with food. You’ll feel and look a LOT more confident if your energy is high, and your interview clothes are a bit loose.
Clean that !@#$%!! Up!
Looking for a job is going to take a decent amount of your time, but it’s not going to take every second of your day. Put together a list – yeah, write it down – of stuff you need to do in your home. Rank things by cost and level of effort. Do all the cheap/easy stuff first. Cleaning, organizing, and painting just about anything is always good.
Whether you get your inspiration from Hoarders or Marie Kondo, knocking out chores around the house is a great use of downtime. Nothing will make you feel better about yourself and more in control of your world than walking into a clean, tidy and organized room. #focus
Taking care of things around your house is great, but so helping out a friend or family member. You’ve got time. Go see your grandmother.
Regardless of whether you knew it was coming or it was unexpected, anytime you lose a job – even if it was a job you hated – it’s upsetting. If you’ve been working at the same place for a long time, you’ll feel overwhelmed by just the thought of interviewing for work and petrified at the idea of starting all over again. All of these emotions are very normal, but I can assure you that they are temporary. You will find another job and you will get past this.
Focus on what you can control. By doing this, you’ll find that your down-time is more productive, more enjoyable, and when you go back to work, you will be, too!
Excerpted from: The Temp Job: A Survival Guide for the Contingent Worker. Copyright 2019 Pierce/Wharton Research, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this post shall be reproduced without permission.
Are you new to the job market or considering contract work? Have a question for me? Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.