Unemployment is nerve racking. Even if you have a loaded bank account the prospect of no income – for some no purpose – is one that can be confronting and give our confidence a hit. The good news is it doesn’t have to be. Like many situations we find ourselves in, it’s all down to attitude.
In my first 24 hours of unemployment, today, there are 3 valuable lessons that I’ve learned.
- Don’t Panic, don’t play the victim – it’s just a problem to solve
It’s tempting, but there are better ways to channel the defeat you might feel than polarising panic. This morning I woke up with a smile, but the longer I laid in bed the stronger the wave of stress, and slight feel of panic, became… it went something like this
“I’ll get started on those leads in a minute”…..”leads, oh yeah I have no job”…“ FUCK what have I done”… “how did I let this happen”…. “I should have trusted my gut and acted sooner on other opportunities that have come my way”….. “how will I pay the bills”… “you’re a fuckin idiot for making this happen”…..“STOP, get up, have a shower, get STARTED”
I could have descended into all out victimised, self induced panic, but I cut it off at the pass. I pushed myself out of bed, followed up on leads, looked for new ones, and booked in meetings. By 11am I had 2 meetings locked in and others on the way. By the end of the day I had 4 meetings and another 3 leads.
The fear can be overwhelming, but giving into it perpetuates the myth of hopelessness and makes the situation worse. You are an individual full of character, strength and skills, assess them and use the to your advantage.
It’s just a problem, you can solve it; so don’t panic – get up, work, fix it.
Need some inspiration, check out Navi Radjou’s TED talk on extreme creative problem solving
The biggest problem with problems, they don’t solve themselves.
- Use your network
It’s easy to be embarrassed about unemployment and not want to talk about it. For most of us, we need the income and/ or we need the sense of purpose and productivity it brings. If we’re really lucky, we need the fun it can deliver too.
Society tells us we need a job to be seen as valuable, so to show that you don’t have one is showing weakness and vulnerability. Brene Brown gives a fantastic TED talk on the power of vulnerability. It’s actually a super power and you should watch her talk.
As a social media guy, rather than be embarrassed the first thing I did when I left the building I used to work in was announce my unemployment on Facebook (with a good dose of humour) and LinkedIn (with a more matter of fact style). It takes me 45 minutes to walk home and by the time I arrived home , I not only had leads to follow up on, friends had shared my status to their network, and I got a phenomenal amount of confidence boosting support.
This was not my intent, it was however an unexpected pleasure. This made my first night easier, my first day more productive and, in my vulnerability I found strength.
Your friends are there to support you and you have built your network for a purpose – probably personal development and knowledge sharing – and what better way to develop than to reach out for new opportunities.
There is support waiting for you, all you have to do is ask.
Let’s not deny it, whether it’s by choice or not, not having a job can be gut wrenchingly stressful. The prospect of not being able to pay bills, the mortgage, even enjoy simple meal out without stress is overwhelming.
Ironically it can also lift a stressful load you’ve been carrying, particularly if you weren’t happy in what you were doing.
The intent of sharing my unemployment with a dose of humour was to actually laugh, to ensure I didn’t take it too seriously or carry the load by myself. In my first 24 hours I have spoken to different friends, been given “unemployment survival kits” of gin and tonic and Ben & Jerry’s, had their unique perspectives to laugh about the situation, their day, a bad dad joke, a you tube video of goats and fails.. anything to break to fear and refocus.
With one friend, we joked about turning to crowd funding my unemployment, and how I could make a project out of it as a social media experiment for a masters thesis. It was as plausible as it was ridiculous, and it felt good to a laugh at it together.
There is strength and it’s refreshing, to laugh in the face of fear and it’s creates positivity.
Find the humour. Laugh, even for a minute, even just once.
Don’t have anything to laugh about? Here’s ventriloquist Nina Conti working the stage with two members of her audience.. take a moment. Thank me later.
We’re not always going to get along with everyone and our objectives and beliefs aren’t always going to align to the business we’re in. Sometimes these situations can be worked around or resolved, but to be real, sometimes they can’t – and by our own doing or someone else’s, we end up without a job – looking for the next adventure – and that’s perfectly fine. It’s only the first 24 hours, and there is a roller coaster of emotions to come as the week unfolds, but these 3 simple lessons have created a great start to the adventure I’m facing, and I’ll continue to remind myself of them.
What lessons have you learned in solving the unemployment problem?
Article First Featured on LinkedIn 08/09/15