You’re unemployed, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise the quality of your life or become someone you don’t recognize.
So you’re unemployed. And your birthday is coming up, or your best friend’s wedding, or a day-long bike ride with your girlfriend. The weather is beautiful, your body is healthy, strong and (relatively) young.
But, you’re unemployed. You wonder, “Should I let my hair down and enjoy myself? Or do I need to fully invest myself in my job search?” If you want to get the most out of life and be the person you’d like to be — job or no job — keep these tips in mind:
1. Go out
Getting out of the house and away from your screen can be the best job search move you’ll make all week. As long as you aren’t spending money, it’s a good idea to stay in circulation. Keep talking to people. Keep getting dressed, going out and staying busy. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
You may be taking your nose away from the job search grindstone for two minutes, but in the process, you might engage in conversation with a stranger and find out about a new opportunity — or a new industry. You’ll also expand your network by making new friends.
2. Keep an eye on your money
As you stay in contact with old friends, new friends, professional contacts and family, know the difference between a cup of coffee and a walk (good), a free museum (also good) and a ski trip to Italy (not so good). For the moment, accept that you can’t afford some items and activities. Over the long term, these expenses can add more stress than they take away.
3. Don’t be a jerk
While you struggle with the unexpected serving of misery and hardship, don’t make your problems into problems for everyone around you. Share your feelings with those you trust, but don’t snarl at those who make well-intended thoughtless remarks. Don’t lash out in frustration at those who don’t deserve your wrath.
4. Don’t overthink
This can be difficult if you’re experiencing unemployment for the first time. It’s easy to get drawn into a spiral of questions about what went wrong at your last job (why were you laid off instead of the person next to you?), your future prospects and your basic worth as a human being.
But these questions don’t have answers. The more time you spend asking them, the deeper you’ll dig yourself into a hole of fear and self-doubt. When you’ve been staring at your navel for too long and you need to interrupt a harmful thought pattern, get up and do something kind for someone else.
5. Expect to be judged, and rise above it
Unemployment isn’t glamorous. It can — and will — draw abuse from narrow-minded, judgmental types who don’t have a wide range of life experience. Don’t listen. Don’t let fear of a few catty remarks push you into a foolish life decision such as committing to a job you don’t want, staying in an industry you don’t like or passing on an opportunity that would truly make you happy.
6. Stay in touch with the things that bring out the best in you
Identify the people and activities that make you feel most alive, most engaged and most at home in your own skin. Sometimes the job search requires you to plaster on a fake smile, but when do you smile for real? When do you truly feel like yourself?
Make a list of these moments, and the people who make you feel this way, and spend as much time with them as you can — even if it means taking a short break from your job search.
Jenny Treanor is a career advisor and job search expert who provides consultation for staffing firms, hiring managers and job seekers across every industry. Her blogs and articles appear regularly on LiveCareer, home of America’s #1 Resume Builder.