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Turning Unemployment Into Funemployment
Being unemployed is scary. In my case, my first few months of unemployment brought with them depression, anxiety, stress, low self-esteem and a serious lack of motivation. My days felt meaningless and frustrating. My entire routine had been thrown out of whack, and quite frankly, I didn't know what to do with myself.
In my previous article, I talked about how unemployment sucks. I also talked about all of the new and exciting opportunities that can come from being unemployed if you can stay positive and open-minded.
In this post, I'd like to talk about all of the little things that I found along the way to keep me busy, happy, motivated and (mostly) sane, while I was unemployed and looking for my dream job.
If you're anything like me; a lover of all things routine and the security that your monthly salary brings, being unemployed can be devastating. Aside from the stress and anxiety, unemployment can bring with it, boredom and a sense of having no purpose.
But here's the flip side of the coin
Routine becomes mundane, and with mundanity, comes complacency. We get up, we go to work, we come home, we cook, and we go to bed. We don't question it because well, that's just 'how it is'. Being unemployed gives us an amazing opportunity to question our lives, to look outside the box and to dig deep, to figure out who we really are and what we really want.
Here are a few things I found helpful while I was unemployed. It took me a while to come to these realisations and most of them; I learned the hard way. These things are life lessons that will no doubt stick with me forever:
Set your alarm
Just because you don't have a job to go to, doesn't mean you get to skip your early morning gym session, meditation or whatever else it is you do at sparrows fart. Keep your alarm set at the same time. The 5 am club is a real thing. Get up. Get going. Try something you haven't tried before because well, now you have the time. You can thank me later.
Plan your day and stick to it
Just like you would on any other working day; have a plan.
I turned my days from boredom and worthlessness into the following:
- 5 am wake ups (if you don't know about the 5 am club, read up on it, it'll change your life)
- Exercise (better and cheaper than therapy)
- A healthy breakfast (just like any other day, stick to a healthy eating routine)
- 3 hours on LinkedIn (yes, 3 hours every day). Read every article. Engage on every post that speaks to you. Make contacts. Build your own community. Post your CV. Learn how to make it ATS friendly. Apply for jobs (it's a numbers game out there folks)
- Lunch (Healthy. Routine).
And here's the important one:
- I set up at least one coffee meet a day (sometimes with the most random of people, talking about the most random of things. Every time I came out having learned something new or having made a new and important connection)
- 2 hours of studying (there are a gazillion free online courses out there. Upskill yourself.)
- A healthy dinner (same time as usual)
- Early to bed; reading industry news (keep your head in the game)
By the end of each day I felt I'd been productive, up-to-date with my industry and most importantly, I felt a sense of calm having 'stuck to the plan'.
Prepare for the worst
A month of unemployment can quickly turn into two, three or even six. I learned this the hard way. Strip out every single unnecessary expense and stash whatever cash you have for the rainy days to come. I became the ultimate bargain hunter, 'coupon cutter' and loyalty scheme points redeemer. It's amazing the amount you can save if you just keep your eyes open. Frankly, I don't think I'll ever pay full price for anything ever again after this!
Spend your free time with people that support you
If not for my family and close friends, I don't know how I would have got through my unemployed months. They kept me motivated, kept me believing in myself and reminded me to never settle. Stay close to these people. They will keep you sane.
Try new things
While unemployment can be scary, depressing, stressful and a whole lot more, it also affords us the time and opportunity to meet new people and try new things. I found the Meetup app a true blessing in finding new (and free) things to do.
Say yes to every meeting, every coffee and every new event
When meeting new people, one of the first things they ask is: 'so what do you do.' For a long time, I isolated myself in fear of having to tell people I was unemployed. This was by far my biggest mistake. The minute I made an active effort to meet and talk to new people, the more connections I made and the more opportunities came my way.
So that's it. Unemployment sucks. There's no denying that. But there are so many ways to turn it into a real positive. There are so many people to meet and so many lessons to learn. I hope you too, can turn your unemployment into a real sense of funemployment.
CateFor more from Cate, find her at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cate-williams-36752318/
About the author
Cate Williams is a passionate marketer with 14 years experience in the industry. She has built and grown brands both locally and abroad, with a passion for making truly great work and leading enthusiastic and fulfilled teams. She believes unwaveringly in doing what you love – otherwise, don’t do it at all. A highly patriotic South African, she believes in the potential of her country and the power that South African’s have to make it a better place, together.
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