When I left my last job, I was definitely filled with a lot of uncertainty. I wasn’t sure if I had enough savings, I had no idea when I would get a job, and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to continue on my career path. However, I managed to keep myself pretty positive throughout the process (aside from a few freakouts). As usual, I am no expert, and if you are experiencing mental health issues I STRONGLY encourage you to seek someone who is more qualified than this little blog. Also, know that it gets better! The unknown manifests in a lot of different ways, but I truly believe that it usually results in positive change if you are willing to take charge and work through it. Everyone has a different process, but here are the ways that I took charge of MY unknown and became more productive in the long-run. These points apply to many situations– breakups, job changes, school breaks, graduation– I have just chosen to share my personal experience.
Let yourself have the initial moment of panic, and then grow from it. The first day between jobs was very difficult for me. I woke up and cried because I was scared. I chose to indulge my emotional self because I knew it would help me. By letting out those negative emotions, you allow yourself to move forward. After I was done sobbing in my bed, I grabbed a piece of paper and made a list of what I wanted and needed.
Make a list of your goals. The next thing I did was make a list of my needs and wants. It looked something like this:
I need: A job, to be financially stable
I want: To LIKE my job, more time to attend yoga class, more work friends
Liking my next position was very important to me, and also the toughest part of this whole process. Getting started on moving forward meant confronting the things that I liked and disliked at my previous position, and thinking about what I needed to prioritize. For instance, I knew that I wanted a job closer to my apartment, I wanted to work somewhere with a culture of innovation, and I wanted windows near my desk. While the third one was difficult to predict, I did keep an eye on this during my interviews.
Train yourself to be a morning person. I know people think this is bullshit, but a study I read recently claimed that only 15% of people can truly function at their optimal level as “night people.” That means for the other 85% of us, waking up earlier and getting the day started will benefit us in the long-run. I’m going to write a whole post about how I became a morning person, but in the meantime just TRY to wake up earlier and get your day started. It really does make a difference in your mood and how productive you can be.
Work towards some goals that you’ve pushed to the side. This one is fairly specific to having extra time (whether you’re between jobs, or on a school break), but is important in those instances. When you face a time where you are feeling very uncertain, it can be easy to sit in your thoughts a lot and think about all the things you haven’t done right. Instead of doing that, focus your energy on effectively using your time to improve yourself. For me, this meant getting back into a healthy routine. Not that I wasn’t healthy before, but I did not have a routine. I spent my month off going to yoga at least 4 times a week, and focused my efforts on my blog. Now that I’m back to work, I am focusing my free time on maintaining that routine. The time I spent establishing those good habits have become so much more natural to me because they are ROUTINE now, instead of standout tasks that I need to complete.
Don’t settle on your goals, but sometimes compromise is necessary. I know that sometimes people are unrealistic and say that you should “do what you love,” but the reality is that we all have bills to pay and that sometimes seems far out of reach. I’m not saying you should go broke and be so proud that you refuse to accept a job that’s less than perfect, I’m saying that you should avoid panicking and settling for something that doesn’t make you happy in the long-run. I was offered multiple positions before my current position that I turned down because I knew I would be unhappy. One of the positions was below my skill level. Another was almost an hour away from home. These jobs were so blatantly not right for me, but I panicked and almost accepted them because I thought they were my only options. I was just starting to think “I should’ve just sucked it up…” and then I was offered my new position.
This doesn’t just apply to jobs. If there’s a red printed sweater you adore and it costs $400, chances are there’s a similar one that costs a lot less. Take the time to find alternatives and do your research. You may not get EXACTLY what you get every time, but you will get closer than you would if you just give up and settle for another plain black sweater. This way, you’re not SETTLING on your goals, you’re just making them more realistic and attainable for yourself. And as you grow, you can build on these goals and get more and more of the boxes checked until you have met them all.
Be gentle with yourself. This kind of goes with the previous point, but assure yourself that you may not get EVERYTHING you want, and THAT IS OKAY!! It’s honestly so hard being a human in the 21st century because we are constantly bombarded with everyone else’s “highlights.” Remind yourself of yours, and remind yourself of your good qualities. When you feel down, let yourself cry it out, and then pick yourself back up and keep going because you’ve got this!