As I revealed in my last post, I lost my job this past January. It sucked, it made me sad, but what are you going to do? Live and learn, my friends. Preferably vicariously through my experience!
Plowing through the unemployment haze is hard, specially if your employers give you no warning whatsoever in regards to what's going to happen to you. Suddenly, you may find yourself jobless, and wondering what the hell are you going to do. How are you going to pay the bills? Will you find a job soon enough? First of all, calm down. Sit down, read this pointers, and hopefully, pick up a thing or two so you can survive this bump on the road as quickly and painlessly as possible.
-Let it all out. Mope. Cry. Scream. Dance. Play video games. Don't go shopping, though, you may regret the purchase later. Do anything within reason. I don't want you doing anything illegal, okay? Illegal = bad. So no running around naked down the street, screaming at your former employers (that's harassment!), or taking a bat to a car. No, no, no. Engage in healthy processing of your feelings. Some people feel confused, hurt, or betrayed when being let go. Others feel a sense of elation, since perhaps their workplace wasn't the healthiest or they were working in a field that was different from what they wanted to do. Whatever your feelings are, let them manifest, process them, and let go. Otherwise, you're going to spend your entire time dealing with it.
-Make a plan. Now that you're done marinating and dealing with everything, get to work. Take out a piece of paper, your computer, notebook, anything you prefer to write down and plan your upcoming free time. First, write a list of everything you'd like to do. You want to learn horse riding? Write it. Practice your cooking? Put pen to paper. Write down all those things you said you wanted to do if you had free time. Now, figure out a way to do them while still keeping up with your household and job-hunting obligations. (That is, if you want to get a job. If you're going to take a short hiatus, cool!) Determine how feasible your ideas are. If you're strapped for cash, then try to do the things that are cheapest, or try to get funding, if you can. But, most importantly, find a way to make this time of unemployment a productive and enjoyable one. I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but it can be!
-Look at your options. Now would also be the time to see how feasible things are. Maybe you want to go back to school? Write a book? Travel? Make sure that you analyze things from every possible angle to make sure they are realistic. Of course, if you really want to go back to school, write a book, travel the world, move to the wilderness and raise a pack of wolves, find a way. If you feel a burning desire to do anything, try your best. Just try not to get into too many loans...the economy is shite!
-Schedule. Okay, you've made a plan: you've picked out what you want to do, and you've figured out your obligations at home and for job-hunting/dream-pursuing. Now make a schedule. Having a schedule will give you discipline, and that way you'll have time for "work" (job-hunting, planning, house duties, errands) and "play" (doing all those things you wanted to do if you didn't have a job). It will also make it easier for when you transition back into the workforce, if you choose to do so.
-Scrimp & save. Maybe it sort of goes without saying, but try to save as much money as possible. Cut back on nights out, expensive toys, and unnecessary spending. I'm not saying that going out is strictly forbidden! Just try to find more economical yet equally enjoyable alternatives. Cook more. Not only will it be healthier, you'll save more money! If you can, walk to places, that way you'll save on gas and get a workout. Or use public transportation if possible. If you really need new clothes (hey, it happens!), try to visit the Salvation Army, Savers, Value Village, garage sales or outlets. Scour your closet and see if there's anything you can rework or have a friend with sewing skills help you out. Point is, there are always cheaper options.
-Make a little cash. Depending on your field, and what your hobbies are, you can still make a bit of money during this time of transition. Maybe you can work as an independent tutor or volunteer at local YMCAs, after-school programs or libraries. You can even trade! An example that has made its rounds on the internet: a graphic designer needed a haircut, but had no job. A hairdresser needed a new a sign. He proposed making the hairdresser a new sign in exchange for a haircut! And so he did. And on that note...
-Have a rainy day fund. I cannot stress this enough. Seriously. Have a rainy day fund. You never know when poop will hit the fan; you should have something to fall back on. Ideally, you should have saved up enough money to pay rent, food, bills, and other basic necessities for 6 months. Why 6 months? Do I really think you'll be unemployed that long? No, I hope not, but you never know. You also don't know if you or someone you love will have a medical emergency. If you have a pet, they have to be factored in to your basic needs too. Don't toss the poor darling simply because you're unemployed! Point is: save. Save now. Do it. Take at least 10 to 20% of each paycheck and route it directly to savings. After you're done paying your bills and having some mad money for any monthly emergency, stash some more. It may seem drastic, but we're living in financially perilous times.
-Consider everything. Take this time to think: are you doing what you love? Are you happy with your chosen career? It's never too late to change, start over, or seize opportunities. Take advantage of this time off to make sure you're doing something that not only puts food on the the table, but makes you feel fulfilled and happy.
-Take it easy. Have fun. I know it may obvious to some, or seem silly to others, but just don't take it so hard. It sucks, I know. I've been there. Don't let it get you down to the point were you can't do anything. Make peace with whatever feelings you have, and try to make the best of it. This is simply a setback on the path to an awesome future of which you will be the star.
There are many more things that can be said about being unemployed; these are just a few. Hopefully, I've given you some tips to deal with unemployment as best as possible. And I also hope that you never have to use them. :) (Except the save one. Really, save money!)