Joy In Unemployment? … uh….

jibberjobber-jason-alba-life-is-hardThis morning I woke up to an email showing I was tagged in a LinkedIn post. Thank you Suja Joseph for sharing this. It’s really cool to know that something I wrote long ago (I can’t find the post) is being shared in job search workshops, and even made into real image that can be shared… wow!

You have to know that most of the time I write blog posts to myself, and think that maybe one or two people might read and/or appreciate them.

As I read through her LinkedIn post, I was into all of it until the end.

Yes, life is hard an complicated.

Unemployment definitely doesn’t help make it easier or less complicated!

Yes, we can definitely get through unemployment. I’ve seen it thousands of times since I started JibberJobber.

Many of us survive it, although we come out a little (or a lot) battleworn. That’s okay because before we didn’t take care of our personal career management, and now we flinch just thinking of being in that situation again, unprepared.

But then, the last one:

“We can even find joy in unemployment.

What the heck was I thinking? Why did I write that?¬†Sounds a bit pollyannaish and naive, doesn’t it?

I don’t know why I wrote that because I can’t find my original post.

Here’s why I bet I wrote it back then, and why I would say the same thing today:

I’m reminded by the lawyer who found himself out of a job, having just left a crappy firm and partner, and months into unemployment. He went from working way too much and neglecting himself, his physical health, and his family, to having time to slow down. Not flush with cash, and definitely not enjoying that part of unemployment, but he was able to take care of himself and the things that mattered, get regrounded, and pointed in the right direction. Today, he’s doing just fine. If he kept the pace and the neglect he had before he left that bad situation, he might have driven himself and his marriage into the ground.

The statement makes me think about the executive who was making the company he worked for an enormous amount of money, and enjoying some of the financial rewards, but he was completely and utterly unfulfilled. He had the title, the prestige, the salary, but he was not (in his mind) making a difference in the world. He needed more, but he didn’t have time to do anymore. Surprisingly, this scenario can be depressing. A job change led to months and months of unemployment, where he was able to find himself, discover what he really loved, and find opportunities to help others in a way that was very fulfilling.

Finding joy in unemployment makes me think of the dozens of career professionals… coaches and resume writers, who I’ve met over the years who have come out of unemployment only to create their own businesses helping others. These people got a taste of entrepreneurship, and realized they do have significant value to offer. Helping people in a job search, land on their feet, get their confidence back… wow, there’s a lot of joy in that. But to get to that joy, these entrepreneurs had to go through their own journey that felt like the opposite of joy.

Considering the dismal stats that say that too many of us are not happy at work, I see unemployment as a bit of a recalibration to our careers. I’m not saying I hope that we all go through it, because it is very, very hard to go through. The way things work today, we don’t have to hope too long for it. At some point it touches just about everyone. Instead of letting it drag you down completely, I encourage you to find your own silver lining, your own joy, in whatever the situation is.

For me, I went from an extremely toxic go-nowhere environment where I had no chance at winning to starting my own business, and getting on a path to financial independence and freedom. I went from being under multiple thumbs in dumb situations and being unappreciated to being the master creator of my own career. Has it been easy? No (just ask my wife). Have there been times I wished to go back to “the good old days?” Many times. Even just last year I took a job, my dream job, for nine months.

I needed my unemployment experience back in 2006. And I needed my work and layoff experience from 2018.

One thing I’ve realized, multiple times over the years, is that my life is a journey, and I need to enjoy the journey or I’ll never appreciate the destination as much as I could.

Your unemployment experience is just a bump in the road. But it might be a bump that gets you out of a yucky rut and puts you where you need to be.

In that, we can find joy in unemployment.