I’m not a hiring manager, human resources professional, career coach, or self-help guru. However, I am part of a concerning number of individuals across the United States who now classify themselves as “unemployed.” While countless resources are available online for dealing with this unexpected reality, I wanted to share my three coping tips for those who find themselves unemployed, which are helping me navigate this unfamiliar territory.
First, I’m always consoled by the profound words of others, which is why I often share positive quotes relating to any subject in my posts. Here are a few quotes regarding unemployment that I found to be particularly encouraging.
“The hardest work in the world is being out of work.”
Whitney M. Young, American Civil Rights Leader
“Being unemployed is the true test of who you really are.”
Ernie J Zelinski, Author, Life Coach
“Hope is the motivation that empowers the unemployed, enabling them to get out of bed every single morning with unbounded enthusiasm as they look for work.”
Emanuel Cleaver, Pastor, American Politician
Now, I’m happy to share my three coping tips for those who find themselves unemployed. Remember, these are just my observations. But I hope they will provide your situation with some clarity during what is undoubtedly a difficult time in one’s career and personal life.
Three coping tips for those who find themselves unemployed
Number 1: Allow yourself time to process the situation.
After reading my first coping tip, many of you might quickly dismiss it. After all, being out of work is incredibly serious and often impacts every facet of one’s life – sometimes immeasurably. I can hear some of you say, “But Craig, I’m out of work and need to pay my bills and support my family! How could you suggest taking time for myself to process this all?”
Suppressing one’s emotions (anger, grief, frustration, etc.) can lead to physical and mental stress on one’s body, often impacting relationships vital during unemployment. In short, we are only good to our families and ourselves if we have taken the time to fully process and accept the different emotions that are incredibly common during unemployment.
Many of us will feel guilty, as though we’re letting our families and ourselves down, or embarrassed, especially in group situations where you seem to be the only one without a job. These are just a few examples of the natural emotions we experience when being unemployed. This time is challenging enough. Don’t make it worse by failing to deal with your feelings at the onset.
Take a few days, maybe even a week, to adjust while spending as much time as possible in a reflective state void of distractions. Go for a long walk or hike, a ride in the car on a nice day, organize or garden around your house – anything that allows you time for deep thought and compartmentalization of your emotions.
While you’ll still have a bad day here and there, not suppressing the emotions you’re feeling from your current state of unemployment will help you move forward in a more positive direction.
Number 2: Sometimes fate needs a little push to lead you in a better direction.
At its core, unemployment is NOT something we speak about with positive connotations. On the contrary, it’s inconvenient, demoralizing, challenging, and often unexpected. But there is another way to look at it, though it can be difficult to understand when living in the moment.
We as a society love normalcy and routines, which breeds feelings of comfort and complacency as we go about our days. The problem with being complacent (especially in our careers) is it prevents us from acknowledging the limitations in our position or the negative culture of an organization.
We find ourselves upset and frustrated by our current situation and circumstances, but we refuse to do anything to improve it. So we complain (incessantly) to anyone who will listen with a narrative that blames individuals or an organization for our frustrations when the problem is an inability for us to step outside our comfort zone.
Philosopher and educator Mortimer Adler once said, “The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live.” But, unfortunately, complacency can get in the way of that growth, and sometimes fate needs a little push to show us there are new and exciting opportunities we’re missing out on because our normalcy and routines are a safe place.
Being unemployed is an incredible stressor for individuals and families across this country. But, did you ever wonder if the next phase in your career was long overdue and you just needed a little outside intervention to get you there?
Number 3: Don’t expect the job market to follow your timelines and schedules.
Well, this one is challenging. We’re all eager to return to the working world to resurrect the normalcy and routines we love so much. Yes, you may have an impressive resume, from formatting to qualifications. Yes, you may have a comprehensive list of professional recommendations from countless colleagues from your past. And you might be applying to several positions every day, which all tick the boxes of what you’re looking for in your next career opportunity.
But the harsh reality is that you have little control over the timelines and schedules of the job market. For some, the search may be speedy, but chances are it will take considerably longer than you expected to secure another meaningful opportunity before saying goodbye to your unemployment benefits.
Here’s the thing to remember, though – you WILL find another job! So be persistent, be willing to compromise, and be unwavering with your search, but be realistic in the timing.
While I could add more to this last coping tip from personal experience, I turn to Avis Viswanathan (the “happynesswala” TM), who sums it all up perfectly.
“Life happens at its own pace and in its own time. It has a mind of its own. Your rushing through it only increases your stress levels and makes you anxious. You can do nothing to Life. At all times, in all contexts, you are never in control – Life is! And all you can and must do is to learn to live fully with what is. This does not mean inaction – trusting the process of Life is a lot of action, of keeping the faith and being patient. So, sit quietly doing whatever you can in a given context. And whatever must happen alone will happen; whatever is due to you alone will flow to you…on its own.”
I’ve shared my three coping tips for those who find themselves unemployed, and I hope they will help you on your journey toward re-entering the workplace.
Individuals from all across the country have been unemployed for several months now, and many others will find themselves in this situation starting today. But remember, you are not alone in that journey and that unemployment is only temporary.