Journey of Unemployment – Keep Working

I know the title seems a bit of a contradiction. If I am unemployed, how can I keep working? One of the things most of us think work is the activity we get paid for. In fact, the dictionary definition of work is:

Work – wərk (noun)

1. activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

2. mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.

So we think of employment as synonymous as work. The truth is they are not the same thing. While employment requires work, work does not require employment. While most of us look at definition #2 above, when one is ‘unemployed’ we need to look at definition #1. This is not meant to demean the need for money. We all know we need money to live. But the key is to put on a new mindset.

I found I went through a series of stages when considering what work was and how I viewed it. I know it is not the same for everyone and it will be different depending on how long someone is without earning an income. So this is my journey.

Stage 1: My job is finding a job

I put myself into job finding mode as soon as the shock of loosing my job set it. It made me feel  productive. Everyday, I tried to establish a routine where every day I would search for new job openings on the web. I would then look on LinkedIn to see who I knew in the recruiting business. I would reach out and began to build my network in my new city. Each week, I would go on 2-3 coffee/lunch meetings trying to expand my network.

In the first couple of months, I must have met 20-30 people. I also spent time at unemployed networking events. Anywhere I could meet new people who could network me. The key in finding a job is to establish a broad and diverse network who will think of you when they hear about a job. I then would circle back with everyone I had met and continued to look. Until…

Stage 2: I will take something in the interim

I finally realized just looking for a job was draining and driving me crazy. It felt like I was in a drive across west Texas. For those of you who are not familiar with west Texas, it is flat and the road is straight. The same scenery for about eight hours. After a couple of months it felt like I was in a perpetual drive across the barren, unchanging landscape.

So I agreed to help out a start up. It was new and exciting. It was like seeing a snow covered mountain after the eight hours of monotony. I started out helping about ten hours a week. As the company evolved, I spent more time helping out. After a couple of months, I realized I had set my mind on something else and I stopped networking. My job search slowed down and this new activity took away from my primary focus. Find a job that will pay the bills. You see, the interim role was part time and did not pay very well. But it was nice to feel wanted.

Stage 3: Ask God what I should work on

There came a point I had to decide if I would go full time with the start up (at a extremely low salary) or step back and re-evaluate my time. I put it to God and was told to refocus my efforts. God told me I should keep a focus on finding a job, but He also wanted me to write. So now, I see my job as writing a blog and a book. Since I can manage my own time, I will do my job search in the morning and then spend time writing.

So while I am not employed, I am working. I am working on becoming better and learning a new skill. I have a long way to go, but I am finding contentment in having goals and destinations that are varied. I can choose to blog one day and write a chapter of a book another and edit my manuscript the next day.

I look forward to the day I will go back to being employed and getting paid for the work I do. However, in the meantime, I am enjoying working on something I enjoy. I guess it is a great life lesson which Solomon understood in Ecclesiastes 8:15.

 “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”

Would love your thoughts.

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