Picking Up Your Pieces

Apr 19, 2010 by

You’re out of work. What are you going to do all day?

We’ve recently been asked, by a number of people, to post something about how to fill your time when you’re out of work. In a comparison that we’ve used before, you could always act like the chap from The Full Monty and carry on getting up, getting dressed for work, and heading to the park with your packed lunch. Perhaps you could spend an hour or so checking for the latest job adverts and sending your CV to another couple of agencies. Or you could, perhaps, try to think differently.

I hope you won’t mind bearing with me while I share a deeply personal time in my life – you will, I sincerely hope, eventually see the relevance.

About eleven years ago my first wife left me. This happened 9 months or so after a great wedding and with little explanation or apparent reason. As you might imagine, I was devastated. For 3 months I moped around, miserable and self-pitying, tedious to be with and ineffective at work (ok, so that was nothing new… perhaps merely especially ineffective).

My friends and family were terrific, incredibly supportive and caring. Eventually I came to realise that I was no longer fun to be with or pleasant to have around. The real turning point came when, on what was my first wedding anniversary, I flew to the USA to visit my brother and, after forgetting my flight tickets and relying on friends to sort me out yet again, I spent the entire flight in tears.

The change of scenery and people I’m sure helped, but I also came to the realisation that only I could change my life. I could choose to be sad, miserable – self-pitying even –  or I could choose to get on with my life and, as so many people say in situations like this, “move on”. Getting to that point was tough and took a great deal of soul-searching, dealing with many different feelings. Making the decision was actually incredibly easy. I simply reached a point where I realised that it was my choice… and being miserable was a hugely unattractive option.

I realised that I needed to learn to like myself again. So what did I do? It seems simple, but I just asked myself what 3 things had I wanted to do but been telling myself that I never had the opportunity to do?

I decided that I wanted to get myself fit, learn to play golf, and learn to dance. On arriving home from the USA, I signed up at the local gym, joined the local golf club, and put myself down for Salsa classes. And I went. I channelled my energies and free time into doing those specific things that I wanted to do.

I got fit (I now remember those days fondly), I took golf lessons (although I never said I got good at it), and I went Salsa dancing (something that resembled a string puppet on speed). And I enjoyed it. And I felt better for doing these things. And I began to like myself again. And, with that, came confidence and a more attractive personality. In turn that attracted new friends and, before long, one particularly susceptible young lady whom I went on to marry.

What’s the point of this self-indulgent ramble?

It’s your choice, really.

Trust me when I say that, from my own experience, the feelings provoked by redundancy are very similar to those described above. You are likely, however, to achieve very little until you choose to accept the situation and move forward. At this point of decision you will need to fill your time in a manner that helps you to feel fulfilled and worthy.

Firstly, your job search itself can be a full-time job. Try getting your CV to be a document that reflects you accurately and helps you to feel good about yourself. Adapt your CV to each application that you make. Identify and research organisations that you might like to work for. Network and identify people whom you suspect may be able to help. Check out support networks, job clubs, and online blogs and advice. Meet up with other people in similar situations and learn how to support each other. Research agencies and meet with consultants from those agencies that you deem worthy of your attention. Check relevant media for advertised jobs and send carefully considered and tailored applications. Follow up on applications with telephone calls and polite, friendly persistance. It’s a full-time job, this job-seeking thing.

But, as with any full-time job, you need ‘me time’. This could be all sorts of different things ranging from the gym + golf + Salsa of my tough times, through to dates with your partner or kids, time out with friends, walks in the park, or going out jogging. Some of these activities can be done for free, others may have a cost. Be realistic as to which are appropriate for your personal and financial situation.

Above all, talk to people. Share your feelings with those closest to you. Be careful not to deluge them with negativity… but do accept their support. As you get stronger, let them see your positivity and reward them for supporting you by being proactive and choosing to move on with your life.

It’s your life, your job, your choice.

1 Comment

  1. Melanie


    Thanks for this. I agree with you that support is essential. Those people that I have recently linked up with (that are in a similar situation) are a source of great strength. At the very least, seeing incredibly talented and energetic people in the same situation helps to relieve the ‘there’s something wrong with me’ feelings.



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