How to Survive Unemployment: Battling Boredom

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The fun in funenployment usually fades within the first couple weeks, as the dull monotonous days blend into one another. Looking for a job can be tedious and with no real reward like a paycheck at the end of the week for your hard work. Boredom can set in because of the solitary days and repetitive activities. As someone who has been through it on multiple occasions and understands the mindset, I and others have done a couple of things to get through each day.  

First, we have to realize where our boredom comes from. It is our brains getting tired of the same activities everyday. We aren’t stimulated, learning, or activating skills to get into our flow. (Flow is the complete focus on a task with no distractions.) Those same activities are applying to jobs and if you are really going at it, networking. But, let's get real, boredom usually leads to a lack of motivation and drive to keep going. 

I have a cure for your boredom and lack of motivation. There are action steps to help you regain excitement for each day. I will cover 4 different things to incorporate in your day, self-care, new goals, a side hustle and scheduling. Let’s dive in to see how self-care can change your day for the better.  

Self-Care During Unemployment  

It can seem stupid or even frivolous to focus on your self-care when you aren’t even working. it can feel like you haven’t done any major work to warrant treating yourself. But, self-care is needed during all times of your life, whether you work or not is not the determining factor of giving yourself self-care. 

Unemployment takes a toll on your emotional and mental health. Many times we question our worth and choices leading up to this time. Self-doubt along with reconsidering our value in the world are continuously brought up. We struggle with sticking to our values and standards with continuous rejections.  Ego and pride take a tumble. Often, depression, sadness, and a lack of purpose creep into our emotional state. It may feel that every day we need a pick me up to just make it to the next one. 

Not only does our emotional state take a beating but so does our intellect and creative skills. We are no longer problem solving, writing, creating, or learning like we did when we were in school or had our last job. Tasks like writing 3 cover letters for the day are the only actions stimulating the brain. But, with such repetition we nearly do it on auto-pilot. We are not stimulated or tested and so our brains are bored. 

So, yes this is a time where you do need some self-care. You may feel that you want to wait until you get a job to establish good habits, I know I did. But, it really is just procrastination. When you get your next job, you will have habits inline with keeping yourself healthy regardless of what work throws at you. That is something to work on. 

Emotional Self-Care During Unemployment 

Since, emotions and mindset are in a negative place it is important to continuously be reaffirming your awesomeness. That can be done by writing affirmation, speaking them out loud or reading them every day. I have stickie notes hanging around my desk, and beautiful prints as reminders of how amazing I am. This was super important when I was unemployed and has stayed a constant after. 

Think about creating some beautiful, fun, simple posters of your affirmations. Some of my beautifully crafted ones are from the print shop at Cultivate What Matters. They have bright colored desk card sets and gold foil mini prints. I have some of their gold foil mini prints. They are eye catching, and have words that resonate with me. Really think a about what words you need to hear everyday to get you out of a funk, or even the monoteny of the day.

Think about these words: 

Today I create a day where I have value and purpose. 

This is a short season in my life and will pass. I will come out stronger, better, and more me than I was before. 

My value is not derived from my job or lack there of. My value is determined by how I choose to spend each day. 

These were just a couple of thoughts to battle the war of pride and ego in your head. Hopefully you can reset your thoughts each morning with positivity to engage in the day ahead. Like I said, you will start to get excited about what you have waiting for you. 

Mental Self-Care During Unemployment

So, now is actually the time to start getting a little more excited. You will be adding a little more flair to your day by engaging your brain a bit more than you did before. You are doing the same monotonous tasks that didn't engage your mind or push you. So, now is the time to decided how you want to come out of unemployment, with a mushy brain struggling to get through each day of work. Or, will you take this time to develop a new skill or brush up on a rusty one. 

So, think about what skills you used for work. Were you writing, creating, or organizing? Did you continually manage social media accounts or problem solve customer issues? Really think about every part of your job, and what you want to do in your next job. Do you want to be head of the department, or manage others? Do you want to be lead designer or the person that everyone comes to for technical support? 

Think about taking a course with Udemy, Coursera, or CreativeLive. Udemy has courses on everything under the sun that can be relatively cheap, when you catch them on sale. Coursera has courses taught by professors from some of the top universisties in the country. You can audit some of their courses for free and pay a monthly subscription to take the full course. CreativeLive focuses on the endevours of creatives ranging from photophraphy, music, art, deisgn, and crafts, to entreprenuership, money and personal development. They offer live courses which can be interesting and a bang for your buck, because they are FREE!

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Set New Goals 

I know you it can feel weird having another goal other than the major goal of finding a job. Your goal for finding a job that you love is going to take up a good chunk of your week days. This can be one of the goals you articulate and challenge yourself with along with others goals. Challenging yourself beyond the amount of resumes you can send out in a day will add value to your day. 

Think of things that you have wanted to do but didn't have the time when you were working. Maybe it was run a half marathon or write a novel. Now is the time to actually set some goals to make these things happen. Maybe you goals are centered around having more or better skills for your job. But, don't forget your hobbies and nurturing parts of you. 

When you are setting goals make sure that they are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and trackable.  Don't worry that things might get off track when you get a job. The point of the goals is to help you maintain a level achievement in your life that is more tangible than job applications. 

When you start achieving goals your self-esteem rises and confidence gets a boost. So make a goal for yourself in your self-care, job hunt, and your hobbies. Challenge yourself to workout daily and watch yourself grow, become stronger, and learn. 

Create A Side-Hustle While Unemployed 

This can seem terrifying or completely irrelevant with your life goals, but hear me out. We know money is tight, but time is abundant. You have an opportunity to start creating something that will be able to provide a small income for yourself in the future. This is a challenge and a goal as much as it is a possibility to expand your horizons. 

Many of us have creative hobbies, abilities to teach, or the willingness to learn to create our own business. Now, don't be scared away by creating a business. It could be as simple as babysitting, or making crocheted scarves and selling them on Etsy. There does have to be thought put into it. But there doesn't have to be a lot of money. 

Think about simple ways to earn extra money. This will help ease the burden of no income right now, while at the same time making you think in a different way. Push yourself. Don't let fear hold you back. Use your network, and the people you know to sell what you have. You will make your time during unemployment go by quickly. 

Schedule Your Time During Unemployment 

You are going to use your time wisely, and by doing so, you will schedule your days. Invest in a quality planner that will allow you to set up goals, track your self-care and help you take care of yourself. Get something that you want to use. A planner that I think does this well is the Cultivate What Matters 6 Month PowerSheet Undated Planner

You are able to start with PowerSheets that help you uncover what your goals are and what matters to you. You map out your goals with the action plan pages. Then you get a little more in detail with the tending pages, which you list tasks for the month, week, and days. The planner comes with tips to help you be effective in the tasks you choose to complete to get closer to your goals. It also provides inspiring quotes to keep you motivated. 

What ever planner you decide to get make sure you use it. Dream big, but plan and schedule it. Keep tracking your progress to see what you have accomplished. You might find that you are motivated every day to tackle new goals because you realize your purpose and value are greater than a job.

Unemployment can be a trying time. Where a lot of time feels wasted doing the same repetitive tasks. But, you now know it doesn't have to be like that. There are goals to be conquered, side-hustles to be created, and self-care to be had. Your time during unemployment will end and when it does, you will be able to look back and see how much progress in life you made. Good luck. 

** Editor's Note: This post was originally published on November 21, 2017. It has been edited and updated. 

Continue reading the How to Survive Unemployment Series