So you are jobless. You were let go suddenly, or actively chose to leave a toxic work environment, or have just graduated college with no job opportunities lined up. It’s a tough place to be. Often we are so overcome with fear that we will not be able to find a job that we go into panic mode and miss out on really following our hearts.
The fact of the matter is that we spend a large portion of our lives at work. And while we may not always love going to work, it’s important that our job doesn’t drain us of all happiness and energy.
A few months ago I was working as a preschool teacher. I had been at the same job for three years and it was starting to wear on me. I loved my kiddoes, but the work atmosphere had become toxic in many ways. So my husband and I sat down and made the decision that I needed to get out of there with my sanity intact. And so I gave my two weeks notice.
I had a lot of time on my hands and no real direction. All I knew is that I wanted to write and I wanted to act. So I started writing every day and tried out for a community play. Times when you are feeling uncomfortable are the perfect times to step out of your comfort zone, because you are pretty much already there. It’s not really a matter of stepping out because you aren’t currently in your comfort zone anyway. It’s a matter of staying uncomfortable and not retreating back into the shell from whence you came.
Okay but what if you are trying to do this and you’re jobless and depressed with no hope for the future? Been there my friends! It’s not an easy road. There always seems to be this universal resistance when we set out to better ourselves, or to listen to our hearts. So we must be ready for that and willing to fight through it. Don’t let yourself hug the couch for two months watching Netflix while scrolling through online job searches. Make the most of your time! Train for a half marathon, write the book you always wanted to write, organize the kitchen cabinets, take your dog for more walks, read a lot, pray even more, volunteer in a retirement community. There are so many opportunities to do things that you may never have done while working.
But what do you do if you have a job you need to leave, but can’t afford to survive even a day on no income? Please oh please do not choose homelessness over a toxic job situation. Awful job is better than no job. But there are some things you should think about.
If your job is causing you pain in your emotional life, then make a game plan to get out of there. I think primarily we stay at jobs because it pays well. But your own well-being is important, and if there is a way for you to enhance that then do it! Start budgeting for less income, and get a temporary job while you take the time to explore what is next for you. There are ways to bring in money without sacrificing total happiness. Make the sacrifices necessary to honor yourself and all of your needs.
Our heart, mind, and soul are always trying to communicate to us, but we often ignore them because they contradict what society is telling us, or they suggest stepping out of our comfort zone (which we hate!). The first step is always to be still and listen. What is your very soul trying to communicate to you? For me it was the fact that creativity is in my blood and that I need to embrace it. I need to honor what I love and walk that path, no matter how vague and confusing it may seem.
Start looking at this time as a gift. You have been given the opportunity to start over in some senses. Take the time to explore who you are, your likes and dislikes. Follow your heart to random hobbies. Get a little job in the meantime while you continue to search for your path. Have patience with yourself and with the process. All good things take time.
Baby steps and deep breaths.