Due to the uncertainty of our economy, more and more of us are getting acquainted with unexpected unemployment. Unemployment doesn’t just happen to strangers, it happens to the best of us. Just this weekend, the Milwaukee Public School system laid off nearly 500 of its classroom teachers. (Incidentally, the Milwaukee Public School system posted some of the nation’s lowest reading scores, but that issue will be saved for another blog post.) With the surge of unemployment, it is no wonder that unemployment benefits fraud has tripled in the state of Wisconsin this past year.
I, too, have had a couple of brief stints with unemployment and although it can be a little exciting at first to have an open-ended number of days off, life without a routine can feel a little unorganized. Not to mention stressful, especially when kids, health care, and spouses are involved. Although I had just myself to support, I found myself dipping into my secret stash of quarters, nickels, and dimes in order to pay for things like coffee, bus fare, and the out-of-pocket expenses necessary to see a doctor and pay for medications.
Should you find yourself in the throes of unemployment, here are my suggestions on how to keep your peace of mind as you grapple with its challenges:
1) Realize your lack of employment is only a short term problem. You will find a job at some point. It may take a while to find a job within your desired field, so while you network, you might as well find a paid pick-up job while you search.
2) As comfy as sweats are, don’t make them a uniform. It can be depressing to lose your job, especially if it was one you loved, and sweatpants can provide instant comfort. However, if you dress for success, success will find you!
3) Maintain a normal sleep schedule. None of this staying up until 4am, sleeping in until 2pm business. Even though your schedule might permit an ungodly sleep schedule, it will be hard to break these bad habits once you do secure employment.
4) Seize the day! As tempting and easy as it can be, do not sit around your house and mope. Use this unexpected free time to do the things you have always wanted to do such as travel, running, knitting, piano, reading, blogging, cooking, etc. I perfected my breakfast sandwich and took up Twitter when I found extra time on my hands.
5) Network. Make a list of everyone you have ever known and figure out how you can connect with them for potential employment tips. Call people, go to local networking events. Also, it always helps to join social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
6) Do your chores. You really have no excuse not to do the dishes, or your laundry, or to dust all the countertops in your house. Twice. Keeping up with the house work now will be one less thing you have to worry about maintaining when you do return to the work world.
As painful, difficult, scary, stressful, etc. unemployment can be, I view unexpected unemployment as a blessing in disguise. Although the blessing of unexpected unemployment did not reveal itself to me until months later, it ultimately allowed me to focus on my writing, which catapulted me on a new and more fulfilling path of employment.