Losing a job always felt like the worst possible thing that could happen. It’s happened to me more than once — one time I was outright let go, and the other I was pushed to resign in a less-than-subtle way. The circumstances around each of these situations were very different, but unemployment can be stressful and terrifying no matter what. However, I learned a lot in each of these situations and, while hard, there are some bright spots in the aftermath of losing a job.
Losing your job can be a great way to re-evaluate what you want out of your life. This is a good opportunity to take a step back and decide if you’re actually happy with where you are and what you’re doing. When we’re actively in something, it’s not always easy to see the forest through the trees. This is a chance to get some real clarity around how satisfied you feel about the field you’re in and the work you’re doing. The much-needed perspective may help you see that it’s time to make a major life change. In my case, I realized it was time to get sober because my drinking was interfering with my ability to be employable (among other things).
This can be a good time to shift priorities. Has your job occupied time at the expense of your family? Did you work hours that didn’t allow you to be involved in your neighborhood or community? Now you can reorganize how your life fits on your plate.
The time off can allow you to pursue a hobby or passion you didn’t otherwise have time for. Do you love playing basketball? Always wanted to join a book club? Wish you had more time to cook? Now you do, even if it’s only for a little while.
You’ll have more time to spend with your family. There’s nothing like not having a job to ensure that you’ll be home every night for dinner, you can tuck your kids into bed, you can have regular time to spend with your partner or that you can be available to help your parents with projects.
You can work on strengthening friendships that may have been neglected. Lives get busy and it makes it hard to connect with people. Freeing up some time will allow you to invest in relationships that may have taken a back seat in recent months or years. Go meet them for lunch on their lunch break if you have to, but make the time to see them!
You might find that a hobby you enjoy can actually end up being a source of income! For me, it turned out that my blogging habit could be used to form the basis of a resume and portfolio that I could pitch to start working as a freelance writer. It doesn’t pay all my bills, but it’s income that I didn’t have and it’s income that has helped supplement my family’s needs in between full-time gigs.
Volunteer work or community engagement might help you forge connections that lead to paid employment. When I was job searching, I spent a lot of time and energy focusing on community organizing work that I didn’t have time for before. That work has provided me with skills and connections that have been invaluable in pursuing paid work, and has helped me secure jobs.
You can do something spontaneous! If you have a little bit of money saved up, why not take a spur-of-the-moment trip somewhere, now that you don’t have to take time off work? If you’re tight for cash, why not call a family member or friend that lives within driving distance and ask if you can come visit them for a few days or a week? You’ve got nothing keeping you from going now! Or maybe you can head to the drugstore and buy purple hair dye just because you can (that’s what I did, but with bright red!).
This is a great time to get to know yourself. Sometimes when we’re really busy, we lose sight of who we are. Or maybe we’ve been so busy for so long that we’ve never really known who we are. Find out what you like and what you don’t. Keep a journal. Try new things. Fall in love with yourself.
With new beginnings comes freedom. Often when something bad happens to me and I don’t know why it happened, it’s because there’s another path for me to take, it’s just one that I’m not able to see yet. When you’re not walking the path you always have been, you’ll see open doors that you may otherwise have missed. Walk through one that you never would have entered in the past, and your future may end up being even better than you could have imagined!