For many of us, losing a job is something we’ve all had to endure. It’s often phrased as a layoff, restructuring, early retirement, or a multitude of other terms. But let’s get real. They don’t want you anymore.
It’s hard to see it coming. Maybe you’re left out of meetings. Maybe your boss avoids eye contact. Sometimes it’s the brown-noser in the corner who just manages to sniff out an opportunity before you do, and you’re left in the dust.
Losing your job is scary, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it can be the beginning of a new adventure.
I got laid off right before my 50th birthday. Of course, I didn’t see it coming. Stress ran through my veins, and I thought I was in line for a promotion. Not so.
I was called up to the conference room and “laid off” over the phone by my publisher in New York. Two other ad managers had been dismissed the day before, so I thought I was safe. Little did I know that the magazine was going under, and they were just trying a last ditch effort to save money.
I went home, wondering what I was going to do with all my time. Thankfully, I had already received my AARP membership card, so I at least felt like I was a member of something.
But all the self-doubt still percolated. Who was I without my groovy business cards and expense account? I felt like a loser. After months of I Love Lucy re-runs, and vacuuming the carpet for hours at a time, I eventually learned a few coping strategies to help me get by.
1. GET A PET
Pets can be a real solace to those who are unemployed. If you don’t own a pet, check out all the places in your neighborhood and get yourself a new companion. Start with a fish. They’re inexpensive. Turtles are good too. Pets work wonders at 3 a.m. when your insomnia makes you wonder “What the %!*&%$+@$%* am I going to do with my life now?” Animals don’t care what you look like and are a great esteem builders.
2. JOIN A GYM
Tons of health clubs are available that are happy to take your money, even if you never go. Compared to therapy, they’re a real bargain. As an unemployed person, imagine doing your workout without time constraints. Alas, those elliptical machines take on new meaning, as you ponder how they really work. Maybe you even get brave enough to try that black contraption in the corner that stares at you like a demonic device from a Stephen King movie. Soon, you’ll meet others who really don’t want to be at the gym either, and you can go out for coffee.
3. TAKE A PERSONALITY TEST
Maybe you were really meant to be a sewing machine mechanic? How are you to know unless you invest a few hours with those self-assessment tests? Many of them are available online, and most are free. It’s always fun to discover your real talents even if they tell you that you’d be better off trying to find a needle in a haystack.
4. GO ON A BUDGET
It’s amazing how little it costs to live. Even if your rent or mortgage takes up 85% of your income, you can still use your maxed-out credit card points to buy gas, gift cards or discount trips to Death Valley. Tired of peanut butter at home? Head to your local Costco around lunchtime and enjoy those free samples. If you plan it right, you might even be able to skip dinner.
5. MEET NEW PEOPLE
Even going to the local market can provide endless opportunities for conversation. What give you more gas: broccoli or cauliflower? Does Ginko really work? I can’t remember.
Volunteering is a great way to kill time and give back to your community. Sure, you can sit at home and feel sorry for yourself, or you can get out and do something. You’ll realize that many are worse off than you are, and sometimes volunteering can even turn into a real job.
Mary McGrath is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in a number of publications including:Chicken Soup for the Soul (Jan. 2019), Newsweek, Wall St. Journal, Betterafter50.com, Purpleclover.com, LANG Newspaper Group, and Good Housekeeping, Please find her work at www.marymcgrathphotography.com