What I Learned While Being Unemployed For A Month
If you have read my post about change then you know that I have recently moved. If you haven’t read that post then you know now. With the move came a search for a new job. The gap between jobs became a lot bigger than I had wanted it to, a little over a month, but I learned some big things during this time. I’m sharing them all with you today. By the end of the post I hope you can take something away from it, whether you are employed or not. Here are my unemployment lessons.
Unemployment Lesson 1: Being Honest About Where I Am In My Career
While I was a little sad to leave my current job at the time, I was also excited to get into the career field I went to college for. I began my job search hopeful and determined to land my first big job. Throughout the process I ended up feeling discouraged and unqualified. It turns out three years of being away from your industry of choice means you miss out on a lot.
I could look back and regret not finding ways to still gain relevant experience or keeping up with industry news. That isn’t going to change how I spent those three years. It was clear I needed to refocus and create a clear direction of where I want/need to be. I remembered that my alma mater’s Career Center also offers services to alumni, so I set up an appointment.
That meeting gave me so much clarity. I developed a solid game plan to get to the point where I need to be. Currently, I am taking the time to create my portfolio, while gaining relevant experience. I’m working seasonally right now which gives me the income I need while having the time for career development.
Lesson: Whether you are just getting into your career, or are looking to switch careers, do an assessment to see if you are ready to start this career. If you are, great! If you are not, get advice from career help professionals or someone higher up in your field of choice. Figure out what it is going to take to get ready. Do you need to update your resume, get some experience from small projects or side hustles, or maybe learn a new skill? Figure that out and get to work on making it happen. Here are some great tips to get you started.
Unemployment Lesson 2: Do I really need this subscription?
I will admit managing money is not my strong suit. I was confronted with this reality fast during this time. There were big bills, like rent and cell-phone, that I had to keep, but there were also a lot of small ones that, when it came down to it, I didn’t need. Those subscriptions we buy in to seem like a great deal at the time, but when you add them all up they can get costly.
One of the tasks I did when I realized a new month was approaching was writing down all the bills and subscriptions I had. One by one I went over them to see which ones I could either skip this month or cancel completely. This has given me more to think about when I see something I want to buy that is a monthly subscription.
Lesson: Make a list of your current subscriptions and figure out which ones you don’t really need. If you don’t want to cancel them, no judgement, at least you have an idea of what to do first if you run into tough times.
Unemployment Lesson 3: Saving Money Is Important
I bet you read that description and thought, “Well duh, of course saving money is important.” As I mentioned before I am not great at managing my money. I have tried saving money with each paycheck, only to take it out in the next week or so. This is a bad habit that I regret the most.
Having that extra money would have meant that I would have less to pay back to family for helping me out during this time. On top of everything that went on my iPad got dropped and of course something in it had to break. I didn’t have the money to get it fixed so I’ve had to go a few weeks without it.
That isn’t the worst that could have happened. I’m grateful that it was just the iPad that was an unexpected event. However, if I had money saved up it would be a non-issue. Unexpected things like this happen all the time. You need a back-up plan when they do, in the form of a savings account.
Lesson: If you don’t have a savings account, an envelope, or some other way to save money in place now, do it soon! It will save you in the long run and you will be better prepared in unexpected situations. My first goal is to save $1,000.
Unemployment Lesson 4: Stick To Your Routine In These Moments
This can be true for periods of unemployment, or even summer break. I relaxed a little too much during this time and because of that, I re-developed some bad habits. Some examples are pressing the snooze button, going on social media as soon as I wake up, and not meal prepping. I’m currently trying to break the bad habits again. I feel like it is harder to do the second time around.
I’m not saying every day you needs to be a rigid schedule, especially if you are on vacation or something big happened in your life. What I am saying is to be aware of the habits you are starting to pick up again. If you catch it early it is less likely that they will form into habits again. Something that has helped me bring my attention to these habits is participating in the last 90 days challenge.
Lesson: Anticipate temptation ahead of time and plan a way to avoid it. If you are on vacation, or an extended amount of time where you aren’t sticking to your routine, make compromises. For example, if you want to sleep in one day make a deal with yourself that you can only do it if you do your workout the previous day. If you are going to dinner and want to have a drink, limit yourself to just one. Little things like that give you the freedom to enjoy yourself without slipping back into old ways.
These unemployment lessons can apply to your life even if you are employed, but especially if you are ever in a period of time where you aren’t working. Have you ever been unemployed for a certain amount of time? What did you learn in that period of time? Let me know in the comments below.