One potential problem of the long-term unemployed is that we face this dilemma: Everyday we have so much time that we truly could do anything we wanted, but at the same time, we are burdened with our “shoulds.” We should be working, we should be looking for jobs, should be updating the resume, should be networking, should be XYZ. I’ve been “unemployed” for almost a year now and I certainly haven’t done enough of the shoulds and I haven’t nearly gotten close enough to doing all of the things I want to be doing. What have I been doing with my time? I’m embarrassed to say, but I’ve been worrying too much. I could have been creating my my “perfect” life. I could have been working on tasks that would set me up for where I wanted to be today. BUT there is no point in harping on what could have been done. I can only move forward.
After an angry and frustrated emotional breakdown where I thought to myself, “What’s the point of living if I’m not going to do anything with my life?” I decided to just start doing the things I enjoy. I wasted a year NOT doing things I enjoy, why should I continue down that road? My time of extended unemployment will probably be coming to an end soon so I might as well make the most of it. I’m literally only two weeks into “living the life I want” (of course with some financial restraints- but money isn’t everything and there are ways to do what I enjoy for free- thank you, internet), and I’ve been feeling better. I’ve been pushing through lazy, and showing up when I don’t feel like it, and I feel like I’m accomplishing something.
My advice for the broke & unemployed:
Let go of who you think you SHOULD be. It’s a waste of time to live there. You’ll never live up to your expectations. For example: I want to get back in shape. Well in my mind, to do that, I would have to get up and workout at 6 or 7am (5 days a week, mind you), even if I have nowhere to be that day. WHY? I don’t know… that just seemed like what I SHOULD do. Now, I just work out when I feel like it. I pick whatever time is good for me that day and I go. Sometimes it’s in the morning and sometimes it’s in the evening. And you know what I found out? That the gym isn’t as packed as I thought at 6:30PM.
Find what it is you love, and find a way to do it for free. And don’t give me that crap about not being able to do it for free. You have plenty of time, dang it! Figure it out. Or maybe you can find a way to make a little investment in your “passion” by selling some junk around the house to save money. Free courses and materials at MIT anyone? CLICK HERE. (Obviously some are more “Free” than others, but still…) I bet you have a local library with books you can borrow for free (or already paid local taxes). Who knows? What you learn may turn into a useful skill set that you can use to generate income.
Stop giving a crap about what other people think about you. People have a lot of opinions to offer the long-term unemployed. Frequently, they add to the “should be” narrative. But they don’t have to wake up everyday and BE you. I’m not saying be reckless or ignore the people who care about you when they tell you you’re being reckless. What I am saying is you are not under a microscope and projected on a billboard for public display. We long-term unemployed people have a ton of time to examine, judge and sometimes envy what other people are doing. Just because we’re surveying everyone else’s actions, doesn’t mean they’re surveying ours. Besides, you don’t have to advertise to everyone what you’re doing. That’s just wasting energy, anyway.
Here are some motivating articles to kick you in the butt. Read them!