Unemployment Benefits, Part II

This excerpt is the second in a six-part series, reprinted with permission from an article I first published in the Society for Technical Communication (STC) Lone Star Community newsletter, Technically Write, April 2002.

Benefits Choices

I don’t mean to imply that I advocate goofing off indefinitely with no attempt to continue or restart a career. But having suffered the rejection, loss of identity, panic of idleness, financial desperation, isolation, and very real depression from termination and even extended periods without meaningful employment, I decided to take a much different approach this time.

I determined to not give in to negative thoughts and self-defeating behavior, knowing that these reactions would not improve my situation. I consciously decided to take advantage of the many benefits of having time off. So my To-Do list included:

  • Guiltlessly sleep until I awake naturally most days
  • Keep my own schedule or lack of one
  • Begin to frequent the health club, which I’d only supported financially in recent history
  • Drink caffeine in the evening
  • Stay up late if I want to
  • Spend time with friends I haven’t seen in a while
  • Take the opportunity to find work closer to home
  • Ignore any financial concerns while on the Arlington Choral Society trip to Italy in November (virtually paid for already, thankfully)
  • Spend my time ‘working’ for myself
  • Get some training in Web design
  • Catch up on reading, including Karen Schriver, Edward Tufte, and Intercom
  • Take care of myself physically and emotionally, tending to any medical or dental needs without the hassle of taking off from work
  • Get organized around the house
  • Do things to help out friends who have less ‘free time’
  • Donate my time and expertise to the Texas Wind Symphony to produce the upcoming season’s concert programs
  • Spend time in self assessment and discovery
  • Before Christmas, finish a project I had started at work: a PowerPoint presentation of last June’s Habitat For Humanity experience in Alaska to send CDs to the participants
  • Spend time being instead of doing
  • Offer moral support to others in my situation
  • Ride it out financially through the end of the year if necessary
  • Spend more time than usual with family over Christmas
  • Be methodical about a work search when I’m emotionally ready
  • Know that I always come through transition times without amassing debt or losing everything
  • Deal with the boxes of stuff I brought home from Company A/B and have not had the emotional courage to tackle
  • Be aware of and grateful for all the good things in my life
  • Join a new choir at church now that I was available for 6 p.m. weekday rehearsals

Taking Action

Thus began my exploration of the many benefits of being unemployed. As the weeks progressed, I noticed that I was having no trouble at all adhering to this new approach. I was only a bit concerned about the fact that I wasn’t concerned. But I realized that I was indeed being successful at reacting differently while staying in touch with reality—my situation, as well as the economic climate.

And I was just getting started …

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    • Tim
    • March 9th, 2011

    I buried some of my stuff in the bottom box on the last row of boxes in the shed. Haven’t missed it. Haven’t missed that company either now that I think of it.

    • Brenda
    • March 8th, 2011

    I’m so envious. So many of the items you list are essential to our health and wellbeing and they tend to go by the wayside in the workaday world. Thanks for mentioning the unpacked boxes. I still haven’t unpacked everything I carted out on my last day. I suspect it will be quite a while before I realize fully how being laid off impacted me.

    Great post.

      • Paula Robertson
      • March 8th, 2011

      Thank you, Brenda. As it happens, I’m currently dealing with a similar “box” myself. I appreciate that you “get” what I’m doing with these posts.

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