Since setting up my own coaching business in 2009, I’ve worked with thousands of people who have lost their jobs. For those who haven’t been fortunate enough to able to secure a new role before their termination date, not only do they find the economic uncertainty challenging, but the sudden lack of routine can quickly become unbearable.
Interestingly (especially in today’s context of furlough), even those who receive large pay-outs, can still suffer feelings of stress and anxiety due to the sudden lack of routine and feeling ‘useless’, when unable to make a positive contribution.
For many, it’s the first time they’ve ever had more than a couple of weeks off in their entire career, and it can be a major shock to the system. We all dream about how wonderful it would be not to have to work; however, work is embedded in our DNA – as humans, we are reward-driven. We are designed to go out and achieve, make a difference, get things done, and be rewarded for it. We are also creatures of habit – we are built for routine, it’s how our brains are configured.
Work provides us with all of the six human needs (Tony Robbins):
Without it, unless we find a replacement that meets these six needs, we can quickly experience negative emotions; it’s entirely normal. We have such ingrained habits that it’s difficult to make sense of things when they are suddenly taken away.
The situation is exactly the same for the thousands of people who have found themselves ‘furloughed’ over the last couple of weeks, due to the uncertain times with which we are now faced.
If you’ve found yourself in this position, or indeed, you’ve unfortunately lost your job, here are some top tips based on my experience of working with thousands of people in the same/similar situations:
Quickly Establish a New POSITIVE Routine
Setting up a new, routine as soon as possible is paramount. Our unconscious brains love to automate ‘general’ tasks freeing our conscious minds for more important things. Whatever you do repeatedly will quickly become your new routine. Therefore, establishing new positive habits fast, is critical (before the bad ones take hold):
- Make a list of what you want to achieve during this precious time (it’s unlikely to happen again) and create a workable plan for each task – break more significant projects into smaller ones.
- Get up at the same time as you would usually (avoid lying in).
- Go to bed at your regular time (avoid staying up late).
- Have a plan for what you want to achieve each day and stick to it.
- Set reminders on your phone, you could even put things in your diary as you would on a ‘normal’ workday.
- Shower and get dressed.
- Make use of your daily exercise allocation – go for a walk, do yoga, kick about in the garden with your kids, etc.
- Create workable schedules and stick to them, even when you don’t want to.
Things to avoid
During times of uncertainty, it’s easy to fall into bad habits, especially those we refer to as ‘numbing’ activities, e.g.:
- Excessive shopping – it’s incredibly easy to run up huge, unmanageable debts. Find more productive things to do with your time – you’ll also be helping others from being at risk when packaging and delivering your non-essential goods.
- Netflix binging/mindless TV – DO NOT turn on daytime TV. The minute you do that, it’s all over. Daytime TV is like a tractor beam; it is 100% designed to keep your butt in that chair. Programmes are littered with, ‘See Jean’s dramatic makeover later on in the programme’, ‘Come back after the break to find out how much the house/vase/necklace is worth.’ They want to keep you watching. It’s the worst nightmare for a completer/finisher! In no time at all, you’ll find it’s 3.00 pm, you’re still in your PJs, the dishes are piled up in the sink, and you’ve done absolutely nothing.
- Sleeping too much
- Drinking too much alcohol
Whilst such things are fine in moderation, they have a negative impact when done repeatedly as they quickly become a habit, making it harder to break.
Avoid staying in your PJs, not showering or washing your hair; it’s essential to maintain your self-respect and standards during difficult times. I realise it can be harder to do when you’re not going out, but if you build them into your new routine, it will be easier.
Things to do
- Volunteer – there are lots of charities who are looking for volunteers at the moment. Google volunteering in your area
- Write a book, blog, articles
- Learn a language (Babel is a great site/app where you can learn virtually)
- Read all those books you’ve been putting off
- Get a bike and go cycling
- De-cluttering (this is a fabulous time to get rid of everything that you don’t need, clearing space both literally and mentally for when all this is over – which won’t be long!)
- Create your own social media channel
Get into action and avoid procrastination
The list of things you could do during this time is endless; there really is no excuse to say your ‘bored’. If you’re bored, it’s because you aren’t thinking creatively, you’ve likely got into learnt helplessness, mistakenly believing that you have no control over your circumstances, but that simply isn’t true.
If you’re struggling with motivation, motion creates more motion. There’s about a five-second lag time between having a thought and getting into action. Therefore, as soon as you have the idea to do something, count 22.214.171.124.1 then launch yourself into action; doing this overrides the bit of your brain that comes up with excuses not to do something. Once we get into motion, it propels us forward and into more action.
Three questions to get into motion…
Project yourself into the future, to when all this is over and ask yourself these three questions:
- Did I make the most of the time I had available to me?
- What could I have done differently?
- What could I have achieved if I’d done more?
You have more power over this situation than you may think. In my experience of working with thousands of people with similar challenges, if they didn’t make good use of the precious time they had, they regretted it.
These exceptional times will be over at some point in the not too distant future; they won’t last forever. Therefore, without minimising the awful things that are happening, it’s essential to make the most of the time you have, wherever possible.
Finally, there are always at least two ways of looking at every situation, you can see the negatives, or you can search for the positives. It’s a choice, YOUR choice.