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“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it” – Charles Swindoll

Unemployment is at critical levels in South Africa and job opportunities are not necessarily speeding to catch up. It’s not always easy to stay positive when you’re dealing with uncertainty, particularly if you fell out of a comfortable situation and now have to adapt.

But if you’re willing to see the experience as a challenge, and possibly even an opportunity, you can find a sense of peace and fulfillment—not just once you find work, but while you’re in the process of looking. It’s not just cliché advice that sounds good on paper. It’s actually possible. Here’s how.

If You Are Out of Work

1. Don’t isolate

Without work, some people become hermits. Most jobs involve some sort of social interaction, be it with co-workers or customers. For many people, the workday is also the most frequent opportunity for social interaction. Spending some time alone can be healthy; just make sure you don’t take overdo it.

A lot of people feel ashamed or embarrassed about being unemployed, and as a result, avoid social situations. As tempting as it may be to dodge friends and family, it can become a dangerous habit. You need support to make it through this transition with minimal stress and anxiety.

Aside from that, interactions allow you an opportunity to put your worries aside and have fun. You’re dealing with enough stress—don’t you deserve a break?

2. Remember that social connections are your biggest resource

Another reason to stay social and engaged is that it’s one of the best ways to find your next job. When you’re struggling, its easy to become secluded in searching job lists and sending out endless resumes. While there’s nothing wrong with responding to job ads, it’s not nearly as effective as using your social network to find opportunities. It’s like they say: sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

3. Maintain a positive outlook

Negativity is an easy habit because it creates the illusion of relieving frustration, but it actually just breeds more negativity. And unfortunately, it doesn’t get you anywhere good.

Positivity, especially when things are tough, may not be your first reaction. No worries about the future with a smile. But if you try to maintain a positive outlook, you will keep yourself open to new things. If you’re convinced there aren’t any opportunities available, you won’t even try to find one—meaning you definitely won’t get one.

4. Stay open to possibilities

It’s ideal to think that life conforms to your plans. But it doesn’t. If it did, you wouldn’t be unemployed to begin with. Once you free yourself from a rigid path you think you should be on, you will open yourself to the new opportunities and roads that will present themselves. When this happens, be ready and willing to say yes.

It may mean taking a short-term contract job, or a lower level position in a new field. When your life path hits a roadblock you need consider the alternate routes available.

5. Take advantage of the extra time

It’s often said that looking for work is a full-time job. That certainly can be true, but it’s a full-time job with a lot of flexibility. When you take away things like a commute, business trips, conferences and everything else that comes with a nine to five job, there’s a lot of extra time in the day.

It’s a good idea to maintain as much of your normal routine as possible. If you exercise three days during the week, make sure you keep doing that. If you wanted to work out five days but never had the time, well, now you do!

This is your time to focus on yourself—what you enjoy, what makes you feel the most fulfilled.

You don’t need to spend every waking hour stressing about finding work. If you put too much emphasis on where you need to be, you may find it’s self-defeating. Just because looking for work can be a full-time job, that doesn’t mean you need to walk around with full-time pressure.

 

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