How to Survive Unemployment: Lack of Purpose

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Often during unemployment we feel a lack of purpose. There are no longer the pressing deadlines, important needs to be met by you, or expectations from others. I have felt like an absolute bum and waste of space during times of unemployment, but I have realized that it is a state of mind. You have more value and purpose than just your 9 to 5 job. I am going to help you discover it.  

Feeling like you have purpose is based on how you define it. This can be difficult when society says even horrible employment is better than none. During unemployment you have to redefine your purpose. Do not limit it to just finding another job. Purpose goes beyond employment - it is how you can serve others, or make an impact.

So, think how you can serve others today? Is it related to your goal of employment like volunteering in that field? Is it mentoring or teaching? Does it have nothing to with your future 9 to 5 and more to do with a passion? Or is it taking care of yourself so that every interaction you have is positive not only for you, but for others?

Redefine Your Purpose 

Sometimes the hardest purpose to fill is making sure we show up every day, with our best selves presented, regardless of our circumstances or current position. Unemployment is a good time to check in with yourself and your skills. When you take on that next job you want to have better skills, and to be able to hit the ground running. This is an opportunity to start learning new skills and improving old ones, while also fulfilling purpose in your life. 

This is an amazing time to take advantage of CreativeLive. CreativeLive has courses ranging from photography, communication, to personal development. I stumbled onto CreativeLive daily live classes. They are live courses being broadcasted to you, for FREE! The classes are intrigueing, motivating and educational. When I first started watching their live courses, I got sucked into watching a woman make brass jewerly, all in front of the camera. She was basically doing fire work, and chemsitry to make rings, bracelets, and necklaces. It was amazing and inspiring. Of course, I looked for videos more inline with my goals and found live courses on motivation, and goal setting.

So, when you start to think about your previous employment, or your future ones, what could you learn to be more ready for it. What can learn to add more purpose and value to your life. Maybe you need to learn leadership skills, CreativeLive has multiple courses on leadership. If you have no leadership experience, don't worry, they have a course just for you, Leadership Skills for New Managers . A course with 18 videos that will teach you how to move from a team player role, to that of a leader. Or maybe you want to imporve your communication skills, which there are a few classes on, like Master Your People Skills and Becoming an Active Listner.

Your purpose can be broadened by taking on new goals. Find new skills to develop and set goals for yourself to achieve them. Your purpose won't just be to find another job, but to improve yourself and make you better. Make ourselves better is a life purpose that isn't dictated by employment and can consistently provide value and purpose. 

Self-Care during unemployment 

Unemployment is also a time to focus on your self care. This is a time to reflect on your own needs and make them a priority. It can feel very challenging and like a waste of time when we aren't working. But, taking the time to learn a little more about yourself, how to better cope with stress, and being more physically fit, will only benefit you in the long term.

You have an opportunity to strengthen your commitments to your well-being. A great way to start is by taking the 7 Day Self-Care Challenge. A 7 day email series to help you start thinking about your self-care in each area of your life. We are now in spring and need to shake off some bad habits that we have picked up over the winter, this email series will help you do just that.  

7 Day Email Self-Care Challenge

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Your purpose is about serving your future self and getting ready to be able to do the things you want to do. Maybe you were given a poor review at your previous job, now is a time to reflect and try to grow from the experience in a positive manner. Maybe you are coming out school and still feeling like your writing needs work, which will be important in your future 9 to 5. Working on this can add value to your day and your purpose as you serve your future self. Take classes, keep learning, and make actionable goals with progress you can track.

Redefine Your Success 

Part of your purpose is what you define as success. Many people find their purpose in achieving their success - working toward what ever that means. If your definition of success is a high paying job, with a nice title and an office with a window, then you will definitely feel lost during this time of unemployment.

So, redefine success to more than a pay check or office with a window. I suggest reading Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte to help you define success on your own terms. It is a book with questions and exercises to make you think and really dig deep into who you are, what you value, and what success really means to you. I completed the book experiencing greater confidence in my path and choices. It will stimulate you to think beyond society's terms of success, to your own unique view. 

This leads me to my last point of what do you want to feel? You say you want to do X - but why? What is the feeling you are hoping to achieve by doing X? Now start being creative in how you actually can come about that feeling.

My sister who was going through unemployment and missed the feeling of overcoming strenuous odds. She missed that feeling of being proud of herself when accomplishing goals. She was able to discover that feeling in rock climbing, by climbing challenging walls. She pushed her self to climb harder walls, by pushing her body through fear, doubt, exhaustion, and pain. Because of this she experienced the joy and satisfaction of overcoming the odds, struggling to finish and digging deep to do it. She was able to feel satisfied and accomplished after a good climb, the feeling of a lack of purpose gone for the time being. She may not have helped anyone in that endeavor but she was able to make herself stronger, and that adds to who she is and will be.

Building yourself up, making yourself strong is a way to help others. My sister was building her inner strength through climbing challenging walls. This will go beyond a job or situations in life, my sister was able to solidify her character, by showing perseverance, and dedication to a skill. It may have seemed frivolous for a tax attorney to focus on rock climbing, but I see her today digging deep to keep going each day through doubt, exhaustion, and the fear of failure.  

So what feeling will you start creating? Is it achieving the impossible and the satisfaction of achieving it? Will it be the feeling of building healthy relationships? Or will you focus on preparing your skills for the job you want? Or maybe now is the time for you to focus on yourself and your needs? How will you find your purpose?

** Editor's Note: This post was originally posted on November 7, 2017. It has been edited and updated.