I just came across this article in the NYT and I agree that when you’re laid off, it really helps to talk to folks who were in your position before. Basically, someone who really knows the meaning of the words: “I know it’s hard, and I know you’ll find something.” In my case, I had the whole visa situation to deal with and my living situation. So, several things besides the whole unemployment bit. But I was lucky I had several people who understood all the shenanigans and really walked the walk with me.
However, I also tried to listen to folks who kept saying this is the only break you’ll ever get to really try and do the things you always wanted to do – after all I didn’t have a house to refinance or a family to bring up, I really could do whatever I wanted in between jobs. Except go on some exotic holiday, which I couldn’t afford, or if I could, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy so well. So here is not-so-exhaustive list of things I attempted to do in my “down time” (pun intended):
1. Patronize independent coffee shops instead of Starbucks – most of them have free wireless and fair trade coffee, a perfect combo for job search.
2. Adopt exercise as my new religion – when you don’t have health insurance for a couple months, you are your only insurance. This plays into feeling good about yourself, which plays into your confidence when you give those interviews.
3. Catch a matinee – OK, I only saw one called Nick and Norah Infinite Playlist, but I had the theater all to myself and it was one of the best treats I gave myself.
4. Try a new hobby – I walked into an art store and decided to be Monet for a week. Oil on canvas was messy, the abstracts were just that – abstracts – but I vented my emotions here more than anywhere else.
5. Volunteer – the intention was clearly there to give a new purpose to my days or one day of the week, at least, at an old age home or my pet favorite, the animal shelter. I consciously volunteered not to be bitter about my situation.
6. Introspect – since an idle mind is a devil’s workshop, why not take all that time on your hands and figure out really what the hell is it you want to do? I read some neo-age spiritualism (e.g. “The Power of Now”) which got me thinking about the right kind of questions to ask myself.
But everyone has their own personal journey and story to tell. Good or bad, or just plain traumatic, it’s a process that does make you better for it. Karma can be a bitch but I also believe “you sow what you reap” – because you never know when you may need someone’s help or the kind words and a smile of a random stranger will make your day.