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Out of Work and Loving It: How I handled my four-month jobless stint (Part 3 of 3)
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[Josh’s note: This is Part 3 of a 3-part series. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.]

Slow and Steady Keeps Me Sane

Once I finished my mental list, I had to start thinking about what I would do with all my new free time.  Obviously, I would need to continue looking for work, and maybe trying to find ways to make money in the interim.  I was actually kind of excited about the prospect of having 40+ hours freed up every week and I resolved to use them wisely.

I decided that the first thing I needed to do was settle into a routine. For me, routines keep me sane, and I knew unemployment would be miserable if I just sort of meandered through it, wondering what would happen next. I get bored easily, and I had to try to prevent boredom from ruining my time off.  So, I started going to Starbucks every morning to read, write, study, listen to music or whatever I needed to get done.  At first, I would buy a drink every time I was in the store, but then I figured out that I could make it myself for about 15% of the cost, so I bought the ingredients and started making my Starbucks drink at home and taking it with me.  It turns out I like my version of the drink better anyway, so I have a better drink and I save a bunch of money every month (I’m embarrassed to even write the amount of money I was spending on Starbucks every month, so I’ll just keep it to myself; suffice it to say it makes me cringe when I realize that my drink used to cost about four bucks every time I got it).

I used my time at Starbucks to keep up with current events (like world news, technological trends, various blogs, etc.), read (I’ve been reading Infinite Jest for several months now – I’m a very slow reader), find new music, keep in touch with friends, look for good job prospects and do school work.  I tried to find ways to feel productive, even if those ways involved checking up on pop-culture or playing Words with Friends on my iPhone.

I also made sure to continue going to the gym regularly.  It’s difficult to explain, but being out of work actually made it more difficult for me to go to the gym consistently even though I had more free time. So I resolved to continue putting in at least four days a week (Monday and Thursday are cardio days, Tuesday and Friday are weights days).

I tried to spend time with friends as much as possible. I have several friends whose work schedules are unusual, so we spent a lot of late nights playing PS3 and goofing off. It was nice to be able to just spend time hanging out and not worrying about getting to sleep so I could get up early for work.  During my time away from work, I realized how important my friends are to me, and I realized that I need to focus on cultivating and building relationships – we only get so many meaningful friendships.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

About six weeks after I was let go, I was asked to interview with my old company… for my old job.  It was awkward.  Apparently my previous co-workers had a lot of nice things to say about me, so I was at the top of the list of candidates for this job. The interview went well and it helped me to keep in touch with some people at the old company.  I never heard back on that interview, but after another six weeks, I was interviewed for another position at the old company.  This time I was offered the job, which I accepted.  In my list of things I did after I was let go, I mentioned that I resolved to leave on good terms – four months later, this decision led directly to a job offer that allowed me to return to work for my old company.  If I had left on bad terms, I would probably still be looking for work with growing anxiety and a shrinking bank account.

While I was enjoying my time off, I was starting to get a little bored. The routine was starting to get old, and I was having a hard time keeping motivated and being productive. I was also running out of cash, so the time was perfect for me to go back to work.  I’m still working on my MBA, and I’ll have to start thinking about what to do with it once I have it pretty soon.  I’m also writing a book, which could open doors to future career opportunities.  But for now, I’m back in the office 8-5 every day, and it’s nice to have a steady routine and a paycheck again.