When your calendar is suddenly job-free.
|Not the Lynyrd Skynyrd song.|
Maybe you got fired.
Maybe where you worked closed.
Maybe you were "asked" to resign.
Maybe you were harassed by someone and decided to quit.
Whatever it is, suddenly your work calendar is wide open.
All of the above, by the way, have happened to me, and since 1997, I've always had my own business in the background whether I've had a full-time job, part-time job, or no job. I've had feelance clients I do work for that includes graphic design, website maintenance, commissioned paintings, ghostwriting -- any and all. Hourly pay, per-project pay, retainer, flat fee, yep.
So when your calendar is magically wide open:
Talk to God. Right out of the gate, have a conversation with God. Tell him your fears, tell him how you are relieved, pray for those you just left no matter what happened, and tell him your hopes. Just talk to him. He understands. Talk to him until you feel peace. Do this every five minutes if you have to. Joblessness isn't a peaceful time; you have to seek the Prince of Peace with significant purpose and repetition. Remember, he owns the cattle of a thousand hills. You don't have to fret about money, and turn into the human monster who fixates on clawing after more. God will help you. Talk to him.
Find a way to look outward. Looking inward is pretty natural, because you're going to have fears and doubts and be replaying things in your head. Looking inward is a practice that leads to depression, hopelessness, fear, and doubt. The answer isn't inside of you. It's in God. And the best way to break the inward habit is to look outward. Talk to God (as we already said) and then do things that connect to other people. I like to write letters and cards of encouragement and thanks to people; I'll certainly have the time to do it! It forces me to be thankful and greatful for all the people God has put in my life, and it opens an opportunity to show care to others during a time when I need care from God.
Know your true identity. Know who you are. Don't let someone else try to tell you something different. Don't let the rumors, stories, or even outright untruths about you and what happened become who you are. Your job, what others are saying about you, the circumstances under which you left -- that has nothing to do with your identity and value. As a Christian, I am a child of the King of the Universe. That will not change.
Set up a work schedule. Just as when you work you have a structure (wake up early, eat breakfast, go to work, complete your work, end the work day), you need to do the same now. Whether it's job hunting or going all in on freelance work, you need to set up a structure. For me, I set my alarm each morning, get up, turn on the computer (or pick up the paintbrush), and commence the regular work day. I end the work day around five. I even structure my weeks based on when some client due dates are (e.g. Monday and Tuesday are writing days, Wednesday is painting day, and so on). Without a schedule, you get a bit lost. You become slothful, despondent, aimless, and unmotivated. Just as a daily job provides structure, so should your current situation. This is closely related to the blog post I wrote a while ago about keystone habits. Create and follow your work schedule. Just because you're at home doesn't mean it isn't a work day.
Create work if you don't happen to have any. If you're job hunting, that's your current job. If you're freelancing, it tends to be drought and flood. Create your own projects to do for when there's a drought so that you're always working. It's about keeping your skills sharp, keeping you from feeling like you're not doing anything, and sparking creativity and possible income from your own non-client creations. When I'm freelancing, I always have a long list of things I can be doing when there's no client work. Each day is a work day, whether its my own work or someone else's. The model in the Bible is to work six days, and rest one. It isn't to rest as much as possible and work as little as possible. Productive work keeps creativity flowing, keeps you from inward fixation, and gives you purpose, so don't look at your free calendar as a time to eat bon bons on the couch.
Have an office, whatever that looks like. Related to the previous point, have a regular work area. I have a few: a room where I paint, my office with my serious computer equipment, and my laptop at the dining room table where I like to do Bible study and blog in the morning in the sunlight. Appointed places for appointed times means the feeling of routine keeps the day moving and keeps feelings of worry or depression away.
Structure and purposeful work are the tools the Bible has made clear are valuable; God knows we quickly become slothful, thankless, greedy, or despondant without it. He's given us patterns to follow, patterns of good teaching, of behavior, of how to keep our focus on him. This is because we need the structure of patterns or we are lost. I don't have the idea that I make my own future, because God is in control. I do know that a car that's already rolling is easier to turn the wheel and go somewhere than one at a brute standstill.
I want to be a rolling car. I'm not in movement for the sake of just being busy. I'm in movement because I'm ready to roll. God can steer. He'll get me to the right place.