No job? No money (and that seems like it would be no fun.) A few weeks into my unemployment a friend told me the concept of “Fun-employment,” that is, choosing to have a lot of fun while being without regular work. So I tried it! I walked by the lake, visited my nephew for days, and wrote a book. I started dating a wonderful guy, and then found a fulfilling job that has more opportunities than the job I lost. Fun-employment works.
How can we prepare so that unexpected unemployment can be a time of growth, fun, and healing instead of fear and panic?
-Feel ALL of your emotions. Starting now, and then when something traumatic happens, you can feel that too, and then process it.
Yes, my anger is still being processed. Yesterday my sister-in-law asked, “How are you doing?” My answer of “I’m okay, but I still maybe want to go back there at graduation because I DID teach those students for a month.” The emotion in my response made her answer: “You are still mad (about being fired).” Okay, well, yes, I am; however, a main emotion that has been coming up more than anger has been joy and thankfulness for the growth that has happened since that job ended. Pay attention and feel your emotions, and also, keep moving.
-Apply for unemployment benefits as soon as possible. Even if you are not sure if you can receive benefits, apply anyway. I received this advice from a friend, and it humbled me to ask the state for help, but there are many wonderful people working in that institution, and I received help. I only had to go into the unemployment office once (the rest I could do online or by phone), but the people I interacted with were professional and compassionate. It took about a month for the benefits to start, so I am so glad I took Dave Ramsey’s advice about money (see more at daveramsey.com) and had been building an emergency fund.
-Save up three to six months of income and keep it in easy access as an emergency fund. I had been working on mine for over a year, and it added peace to my life because I wasn’t broke. Unemployment benefits supplemented that fund, and I made it through without going into debt.
-Put your identity in the One who Created you, and not in your job. I put a bit too much of my identity in being a teacher, so losing that identity hurt, but taught me more humility. God gave me the gift of teaching, and I am choosing to follow Him and teach where He puts me. Right now I am a writing tutor at a college and am loving it!
-Choose to trust that things are going to work out, so then relax and have fun! I took several floral design classes, applied to several flower shops (I didn’t get those jobs, but I’m glad I tried), and designed flowers for one wedding by myself and helped with a couple other weddings. Floral design had been a dream of mine for years, so I’m thankful for the time to develop that gift.
-Choose to be thankful, develop and invest in loving relationships, and seek for the next employment opportunity. My new job is pretty fun…there’s lots of jokes about elephants…Life is better than I thought it could be before!
By M. H. Campbell