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SALT LAKE CITY —Unemployment can be one of the most devastating and emotional times in one’s life.
For those who have experienced this, there is often mixed emotions from such a challenging trial. For those who have watched family members, friends and co-workers go through it, the feelings of helplessness, frustration and even depression can often be felt. There is no way to sugar coat that unemployment is truly a test of endurance and will.
That said, unemployment can also be one of the greatest teaching and learning opportunities in one’s life. Unemployment often brings with it both the need and willingness to be humble. When we are humble we are most prepared to learn.
Unemployment continues to impact many, many lives. That likely means either you or someone you know is currently experiencing this life changing event. Here are four ways to make it through unemployment:
- Keep your head up. This is one of those things that is much easier to say than do, but it can make all the difference. As you strive to make each day count, it starts with where your head is pointing. Keeping your head up means you are making a conscious decision to look forward. The first step towards making something good happen is to look to where you want to go. It is important to remember that many people are more willing to help someone who is looking up. It gives them the sense that you are willing to let them help you. Allowing others to help during this difficult time is crucial to making it through successfully. Others can help hold your head up when times are low and you feel like you cannot. Holding your head up does something else, which may be just as important: It is an example to others who are going through a similar situation.
- Remember what defines you. Being unemployed is not what will define you. It is important to remember that we all have the power to define who we are. It is how we handle our circumstances and trials that defines who we are. Don’t allow negativity to take over your thinking. It is important to understand that you will have feelings of loneliness, anxiety, frustration, sadness, depression, anger or isolation. These are normal feelings and trying to suppress or not recognize them only makes things worse. The key is to manage your emotions. Give yourself time to work through whatever feelings might come, but remember to focus on what will define you.
- Set Goals. There is no shortage of articles and books on the importance of setting goals. Goals help us take steps forward towards the things we want to accomplish. When we accomplish our goals, we feel good, we feel like we are worth something. There may be no more important time in one’s life to set goals than during the temporary challenge of unemployment. As Albert Einstein stated, “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” Think of how powerful those words are in the context of going through unemployment. It is easy to look at others who seem to have it all and begin to set goals based on that. However, doing so will, more often than not, lead to more frustration and create or intensify a downward spiral. Set goals (small goals at the beginning) so you have the opportunity to achieve them. Then be sure and recognize and reward yourself in some way for achieving success.
- Serve Others. We must never underestimate the power of serving others. When we take the focus off ourselves and focus on others, there is something special, almost magical, that happens. Life becomes not only bearable, but livable. We replace those potentially negative feelings and emotions with those of peace, happiness, joy, love and hope. When we feel those emotions, we have a desire to be positive and we are willing to commit or recommit ourselves to making great things happen. Often, when we serve others, we learn quickly that others are in worse situations and our hearts are opened. We want to help them through their trial or challenge and in doing so, tackle our own challenge of unemployment with that unstoppable attitude that is so important. Serving others also helps increase our humility. And as was mentioned earlier, humility puts us in our best learning frame of mind.
Seth Saunders is an executive business consultant and leadership coach. Seth has been married 18 years to his wife Amber, and is the proud father of three sons. He is passionate about helping others succeed.