Great Things to do While Unemployed (or Underemployed)

I read a sensible post about things you can do while you are unemployed. It was sensible. Probably practical even. But, it did not deal with the issue of keeping your soul alive, your spirits up and your creative energy high while you go through the ups and downs of being unemployed.

Being without a job is bad enough. You need that nice, lovely pay cheque. (Yes, that’s Canadian spelling).

However, the worst part about being unemployed is how it makes you feel. Some days you just don’t want to do anything. You don’t want to talk to anyone or be seen by anyone. These kind of days you could happily wear your pajamas and check email from under the blankets in your bed all day. But, that won’t be a good thing.

The more you close yourself off the more you disappear from the world and become cut off from everything. At the time it feels like this is just what you want. But, really, it isn’t what you want at all.

We all want to be vital and important and someone who is up and coming and out there. We all want to be a somebody!

Just because you are unemployed, somewhat financially challenged and feeling kind of down… that doesn’t make you an instant hermit.

So, this is the time in your life when you most need to push yourself out there into the world. Like a baby chick just leaving the nest, you have to step out of your comfortable, reliable nest and dodge cats, watch out for cars and other hard objects in your flight path and find your spirit again.

This is a time to bring yourself out again. Dust off who you really are versus the person you became to suit the job you used to have. We all change to suit, like a chameleon. Now is a great time to snap back into your non-chameleon self.

Rediscover who you are.

I know it sounds kind of silly, but take some personality quizes. There are lots of them online. Take the silly ones and the serious ones. Try the Myers Brigg personality test and find out your four little letters.

Use all this information. Weed out the stuff that doesn’t sound like the real you. The stuff that is leftover from the employed you.

Now go do something that the real you would like to do.

Rediscover your hobbies, your passions and the things that make you want to get out of bed in the morning.

Think back in your life, what did you love when you had time to love something outside of your regular family and work life? Think all the way back to when you were a kid if you have to go that far back. Did you write penpal letters, did you fly remote controlled airplanes, did you crochet?… Somewhere in your past there is something you love and have had to put aside while you focused on work, career or business instead.

Bring your old passions back into your life now, when you need some passion and motivation.

Keep a plan, a schedule of some kind each day too.

Writers can spend one hour writing each day, for instance. An artist can go to a new location each afternoon and paint, photograph, etc. Read up on new skills in your area of work. There is always something new you can learn. Join a local group involved in something in your field of work. Get out there and attend the meetings.

Or, become involved in local issues. Go to the town meetings, find out about the issues in your area. Become involved in change. Be a voice people will hear. (But, don’t be a jerk about it).

Volunteer somewhere. Don’t look at lists of places actually looking for a volunteer and leave it at that. Go to community groups, associations, societies, etc. and ask if they would like a volunteer. Suggest things you could do, things you would like to do and things you are good at doing. Yes, it’s a good way to keep involved and you can keep on top of skills you have and build up your experience, those are all good, practical reasons to volunteer. But, really, it’s about having something to do, a schedule and people who will be counting on you to appear and accomplish things.

Even if you do nothing else – get out of your home area at least one hour every day. Don’t become a gradual shut-in hermit type. That just isn’t you. Plus, you’ll get that weird smell.

Meet new people.

Just smile at someone as you pass by, for a start. When you buy a coffee, start small talk with the cashier. Cashiers are great at small talk. So you don’t have to do much once you start the ball rolling and begin the conversation. A short, simple conversation while you pay for your coffee, groceries, lumber, whatever. A small thing like that can make a big difference in how you feel. Without some kind of social (real, not online) contact you can start feeling disassociated, cut off from the rest of the people on the planet.

Try something new to you.

It may be an art like photography, or a craft like knitting, or skill you can learn like bookkeeping. Keep your brain evolving. Trying something new and having to make your brain work is a good thing. Failing and then learning and continuing to try are also great things for you now. You won’t like the learning curve while you work on this new skill but the accomplished feeling you get once you become good will be well worth the momentary frustration of learning something new.

Create a Crazy Resume

You’ll be writing and rewriting and editing and re-editing your resume countless times. So take one of those times to go crazy with it. Play and have fun with the whole resume thing. Break the rules.

Add colour to your resume. Doodle on the margins, Highlight words, whatever you like. Print it on coloured paper. Use coloured fonts. Draw in crayon on it if you want to.

Add silly skills to your resume. Add things like master teeth brusher, independent car washer, amateur kite flyer, anything you have actually done but would never add to a resume. You may even find yourself discovering a skill worth adding once you stop being so serious about analyzing your skills and experience. But, that isn’t the point. Make yourself sound all puffed up and important for the bits of nothing, the silly skills and all the other stuff we take for granted about ourselves.

Stick your crazy resume up where it can be seen. Someone will laugh about it. Someone will be slightly jealous over your creativity and someone will copy the idea. It’s all good.

You probably shouldn’t send that resume to anyone, in a professional sort of way. But, aren’t you curious about what would happen it you did? You might actually hear back from some of those stuffed shirts who never reply to anything. Kind of tempting isn’t it? Of course, I can’t officially recommend anyone actually sending a crazy resume…

It’s Just a Silly Job Interview

Get together with friends and do job interviews for jobs you make up or would never actually apply for. Go big and interview to the the new owner of McDonalds or WalMart. What does it matter? Go small and interview to be the under-manager of shower curtain inspection. Something silly and non-existent (I hope. Surely there isn’t someone going around inspecting shower curtains in people’s homes).

Do all the really awful interview questions.

  • Why did you apply for this position?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • What do you consider a weakness in yourself?
  • Are you a team player?

But, have fun with it all. Poke fun at the interview process and the questions they ask. Laugh about it all.

Freelance, Consultant or Start your own Business?

Consider going freelance, setting yourself up as a consultant or starting your own business. This is a time when you might find DIY works for you. Sure it’s a risk and you could fail. But, you have time to make plans, find resources and see how much you can do without spending a lot of money.

Go to the library and read information online about freelancing and consulting. What areas of existing business could really use your skills, not as an employee but an outside contractor?

Look around your neighbourhood, what service is needed that you could provide? Where do you see a need you could fill? Keep it practical. Don’t go over your head when it comes to the money you would need to start up or the time and energy it would take to maintain your business/ service.

Start with a business plan. What do you want to do and how feasible is your idea? A well thought out business plan can really help you understand what you are doing, the risks, the chances for success and how other people with similar businesses and services can fit in with your new business or service.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to start the next Tim Horton’s (huge Canadian coffee shop), or be your own Mr. WalMart, etc. Your business just needs to bring in the income you need for your needs. It’s perfectly ok to think local and think small. You don’t have to go in for a world domination plot. Leave that pressure for the next generation.

It’s All About YOU!

Bring, and keep yourself, out of your shell. Don’t sink into a depression, or a decline like a romance novel heroine of old.

Use this free time to your advantage to build yourself up and bring back the creativity, inspiration and passion you had to suppress while you were being a devoted worker bee.

Not only will you feel better emotionally and physically but you will sound better when you do apply for a job and write a real resume. It’s funny how your attitude and emotions leak out even when you think you are being the perfect professional. So, keep yourself feeling strong.

Best wishes to you!

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