The joy of being unemployed and not working

There is a lot of turmoil in the economy at the moment and this post is not meant in any way to downplay the difficulties that many folks are experiencing in being unemployed. These are tough times and I’m not trying to pretend that they aren’t. But I want to try and put a different spin on things.

This post, the joy of not working or being unemployed is about making lemonade when life offers you lemons. I’ve been reading Ernie Zelinski’s terrific book called the joy of not working and it has inspired me to write this post.

At the moment I am experiencing the joy of being unemployed even though I am working hard at my passions and loves. This blog being one of them. So please indulge me for a moment as I try to shine light on the more joyous aspects of being unemployed.

There are a lot of people who are unhappy at work. I’ve read statistics that suggest that upwards of 80% of the employed are not happy with their work. If you’re like most people you’re doing well if you find your work bearable or manageable. I think there are a number of factors for this, but I think the biggest factor is that we are not pursuing our passions, interests or joys in the work we perform. On top of that, work takes up more than 40 hours a week for most of us. Especially when you consider a couple of hours of commuting to work each day plus the time it takes to get dressed, buy clothes, spend money to keep employed or fed at work, dry cleaning etc. In fact, a great book that speaks to the true cost of employment and our real hourly wage is the book Money or Your Life. It literally changed my life.

Anyway, I’m digressing. The joy of being unemployed is being able to reassess the direction that your life has taken. Being newly unemployed truly is an opportunity to reinvent yourself. It is a fork at the crossroads of life. Sadly, many of us are not courageous enough to create these forks for ourselves. But when you become unemployed and find yourself out of work you have an opportunity to really change gears and change direction if you want. Here’s how:

1. Define your interests

Take the time while you’re out of work to explore your interests whatever they may be. This might be hard for some of us if we’ve never really explored options outside of work. So think back to when you were a child and the types of things that excited you. Did you explore the environment around you? Did you read books of any sort? Did you love math or science or drawing?

Make a list as long as you can, and don’t be shy about it either, nobody but you will be looking at it. Be silly, goofy, serious and ridiculous. If your interest was ant farming put it down. If you loved playing with playdough put it down. Anything and everything is up for grabs here.

2. What intrigues you?

This is similar to step 1 where you’re defining your interests, but it’s also a bit different. What you’re looking for here is to figure out some of the things you’ve been putting off. What has intrigued you for the longest time? When you had money i.e. you were employed but you had no time i.e. you were employed 🙂 what were the things you always said you wanted to try when you had time or when you were retired?

Now is the time to learn new things. Let your intrigue become an exploration of new possibilities. Did you ever think it would be neat to try pottery? What about collecting stamps? Did you ever want to learn how to make your own soap? Think about all things you’d love to try. More than that, take time now to explore your intrigue. Take a pottery course. Most of the ideas we have that we want to try can be done for free or relatively inexpensively.

3. Mommy knows best

Way back when you were a small boy or girl, your mommy encouraged you in some things. These are your talents. Doesn’t have to have been a parent. Perhaps a teacher, a friend’s parent, an uncle or aunt or grandparent saw something in you. Talents are as diverse as grains of sand on the beach.

Were you encouraged and complimented on your compassion, your tidiness. Perhaps you knew how to play an instrument or to draw or paint or do macrame. Maybe you were showered with compliments with the way you were able to handle animals or make sad person happy. These are all talents. And within your talents is a way to learn how to be paid for them.

4. Dig deep and build sandcastles

For all of the steps above, dig deep and broadly into exploring your talents, your interests and your intrigues. This might take several hours over several days. The benefits will be huge. You will after you’ve pumped these wells dry, have a veritable treasure trove of opportunities for which you can start anew.

Let’s take an example. Perhaps your interest has always been in beauty and you like making things with your hands. Mom always said how talented you were with Play-Doh sculptures and you’ve always been intrigued with making soap. You can put all of these together, learn how to make soap and see if you can’t sell some at a farmers’ market.

Building sandcastles is about moving forward in a new direction, boldly without much attention given to the naysayers. It’s scary but exhilarating. It takes courage but it’s contagious. This is how to find the joy in being unemployed in not working at a J O B.

There is always a way to be rewarded monetarily when your heart and soul point you in the direction that you need to go. Who woulda thunk a guy could get rich by selling fizzy dark sugar water (Coke) or by tinkering on the fringe of technology (Apple computers) or a lady with homemade soaps (The Body Shop). They all started small. We all start small. An oak starts small. And yet we all have the potential to become giants. What or who is the giant within you?