May the Hope Be With You.
(Forewarning: this article has nothing to do with Stars Wars: The Force Awakens – sorry to disappoint. Yesterday marked the official release of another episode of one of the most epic sagas known to man: Star Wars: The Force Awakens.)
Hope is on the Way
After the unfortunate ending of a temporary employment opportunity (absolutely phenomenal might I add), I find myself unemployed yet again. Even typing that word out makes me cringe. Coming from a man whose number one priority is finding a professional career path, it absolutely kills my ego to come to terms with this temporary (and minor) setback. Today I will discuss the experience of unemployment, identify the largest mental obstacles of this state of living and restore hope in those facing the same situation by formulating strategies to overcome these challenges.
Challenge #1: Restructuring our Personal Stigmas of Unemployment
Let’s play word association. I say unemployment, you say…? Lazy? Indifferent? Apathetic?
I’m guilty of these reactions as well. That’s what makes it even harder to deconstruct these feelings of self judgements. Our own internal dialogue kicks in:
So you’re unemployed? You must be really lazy… You must not be motivated…
Of course I’m not lazy! Of Course I’m motivated!
Oh yeh? then why are you unemployed?
For those of you in between jobs, no matter what the situation, let us re-engineer our thinking towards our situation:
- What if we removed ourselves from the situation and saw the reality from a different perspective?
- What if instead of feeling lousy about current position in life, we celebrate the fact that we were courageous enough to quit our job because we were undervalued by our employer and mistreated by our supervisor.
- What if instead of dreading the eminent reality of living without a source of income, we focus on the positives from our experiences, and the ability to hone our skills in our previous position.
- What if we view this situation as an opportunity to explore our interests. This is a perfect time to deliberately redirect our professional path. Maybe our last position helped us to discover a new skill set that will open new doors.
As always, we must understand that some circumstance is positively out of our locus of control. Regardless of how detrimental, we are only responsible for our responses to these unforeseen events.
In order to move on we must remain hopeful, confident and have faith that our efforts will not go unnoticed. The resilience sustained by continuing to live according to our values, is another key to success in this process. This practice will get us through these difficult times (as mentioned as a pillar of success in last week’s article Visions, Strategies, Tactics: Planning a Meaningful Life – Part 2).
The Take Away: Everything is temporary. Don’t let minor judgements and negative internal dialogues weigh down your ability to respond positively to adversity. Turn these threats into opportunities.
Challenge #2: Overcoming Judgements
Sometimes people invest their self-worth way too heavily in the opinions of others, myself included. I’d like to share this picture that I saw on a friends Instagram feed because the timing of me reading this was almost mystical. I had fallen into these feelings of self-loathing and depressing thoughts when I saw this:
The Take Away: Don’t let others opinions have an affect on your self worth. It doesn’t matter if it’s a close friend, a previous supervisor, or a stranger on the street. You know what you’re worth and don’t give others the power to take that away from you.
Challenge #3: Finding Energy to Persevere
This past week was my first without consistent work in a while. I remember waking up the first day of being officially unemployed with absolutely no regard for getting out of bed. It’s a toxic place if unregulated, as we discussed in Planning a Meaningful Life – Part 1, however I granted myself that one day to do so.
The difference in the amount of drive and motivation that I’m personally experiencing between now and two short weeks ago while fully enthralled in a full-time work schedule is absolutely immense. Once your brain gets going, it’s hard to stop, however without the jump-start that I was used to by getting up and going to work everyday – I’d experienced production withdrawals.
The Take Away: The fact of the matter is it’s easy to blame our situation for our feelings of low energy, and lack of productivity. The truth of it all is that no matter where the blame is placed, we cannot quit on ourselves because we are the ones who truly understand our own self worth. Our everyday efforts are the only bridge that connect our unrealized potential with the success that awaits us.
Challenge #4: Feeling Unproductive in a Productive Society
For this challenge I think back to a college course in which we explored social dynamics of Native American cultures. One pillar of their success was the sense of community and contribution. It was ingrained in their culture that all members were responsible to participate and contribute positively to their micro-society. I believe that today this unwritten social agreement still exists. This brings up the challenge that we are faced with everyday that we do not have a job. Sure we may still participate in the economy, but as far as contributing to the labor force, we offer no value (temporarily of course).
I hated the feelings of inadequacy, and not pulling my weight. I’d needed a way to change my thinking.
To give you an idea of my thought process, I envisioned other times in our lives that we borrowed from the future in order to satisfy a need in the present.
Then it hit me. Credit cards. I then created the concept of a social capital credit card to relieve the sting of my current bout of unemployment.
Just as when we apply for a credit card, we are promising the borrowing company that we will pay our debt with money we make in the future. With the social capital credit card, we open up a line of credit with society and promising that despite our current state of unemployment and lack of production, we are destined for greatness. Although not immediate, we will repay our debts to society with handsomely earned interest in the form of our future contributions.
We know what we’re capable of professionally, we know that one day in the future someone will give us the opportunity to prove ourselves worthy. We should carry ourselves as if we have already landed the job of our dreams. There’s only a matter of time before we’ve earned them. So why not reap the benefits on them a little earlier?
The Take Away: Don’t walk around town degrading your potential or self worth because you’re without work or unemployed. You are confident in your future and you know that you’ll land the job you deserve, but in the mean-time.. borrow a little social capital. Trust me, you’re worth it.
Some readers may not be immediately identify with this situation of unemployment per say. This does not mean that those comfortably employed are not able to benefit from the information covered in this discussion. Although I discussed these challenges in a very specific fashion, do not restrict them.
The Ultimate Take Away:
- Adjust our perception of the reality of unemployment to be an opportunity for growth.
- Never let others perceptions of you diminish your own self worth.
- No matter how hard it is to get out of bed everyday, don’t you ever quit on yourself. You’re the only one responsible for your successes.
- Get a social capital credit card. Use it and lose the feelings of inadequacy. Understand that your path may not be as clearly defined as you may have liked.
I’ve recently been experimenting with different formats. I’d be interested to hear from you guys about what you like best about the formats, what you’d like to see more of, and what you aren’t particularly a fan of. Any comments, critiques or criticisms are immensely appreciated! I wouldn’t continue to write if it wasn’t for you.
I also understand these past few posts have been way too long. I promise that my new posts will be shorter.
Thank you guys!