It is easy feeling like you are on top of the world when everything is going your way.
Having a fulfilling, promising, and well-paying career undoubtedly keeps your self-esteem and confidence up in the stratosphere.
But what if you just lost your job, bills are piling up, and the economy is in the midst of a recession? What if your life has grinded to a halt and you cannot seem to find your bearings?
Sometimes a string of bad luck can inflict a great barrage of emotional and psychological pain on us; we feel a quiet desperation and a sense of emptiness and loneliness that can crush the soul and psyche.
Fortunately, there are ways to overcome such events.
The key is to do things that give you energy, provide a challenge, and help project a sense of confidence, self-worth, and personal power.
There are a series of daily habits you can adopt to help steer you in the right direction – and prevent you from falling into a deep state of despair and hopelessness. I’ve compiled the following list from my own personal experience of having been unemployed for an entire year. Some of these habits I followed religiously, others not so well.
1) Get up at the same time each day
The very first habit you should practice is getting out of bed at the same time each day. It does not matter that you just lost your job – your job is now to get back on your feet. Getting out of bed in the morning, bright and early, is the first step. If you are one to just roll over and hit the snooze button and continue sleeping, place your alarm away from your bed so you’re forced to get up (unless you love hearing the sound of your alarm).
Remember: inertia is very dangerous and should be your number one enemy during this time.
2) Clean your home and car
Be sure your personal residence is clean and tidy. A messy and disorganized home will make you feel dis-empowered and psychologically overwhelmed. Chaos in the home will create chaos in your mind. Order and cleanliness, however, will calm your mind and bring a semblance of peace and order.
Maintaining you home is also an excellent way to prevent falling into the laziness trap; the more you do, the more energized you feel to do more.
If you own a vehicle, take the time to ensure it looks clean and presentable, both on the outside and inside.
3) Get a haircut and clean up your face
Always be sure to get your hair cut regularly. Select a hairstyle and stick to it. Don’t just get out of bed and walk out the door.
Just as important as your hair is your face: take some time to address any acne, stained teeth, etc.
If you’re a man, ensure you shave regularly or properly trim your beard.
Keeping your hair and face well-maintained should be a daily routine; it’s one of the things people notice about you first.
4) Dress well
Be sure to put effort into your choice of attire. The way you dress will greatly affect the way people perceive you. If you are out of a job and going through rough times, you still want to project an image of professionalism and confidence.
If you haven’t done so already, develop an exercise routine, preferably a combination of cardiovascular and weight training. Regular exercise will keep you energized and feeling positive, which is crucial to keep stress, depression, and anxiety from creeping in and sabotaging your efforts at getting back on track.
A well-planned and executed exercise regimen will help you sculpt a strong and aesthetically-pleasing body. Without a doubt, this will prove to be a confidence booster.
On a side note, if you have a well-built and well-toned body you look better in your clothes. Notice how people with good muscle development and low body fat are able to pull off a classy and sophisticated look even by wearing simple, inexpensive clothing.
6) Eat well
There is no such thing as a separation of mind and body. What you put into your body will affect your mind, be it in a positive or negative way. Don’t fall into the trap of consuming junk – you will become overweight, sluggish, and depressed, and at increased risk of developing a long list of illnesses.
7) Always be on the move
It’s imperative to always be on the move. Sitting still is a bad habit that will ultimately lead to frequent naps, TV show marathons, mindless online surfing, etc. Hours and days will fly by with you doing nothing productive.
Never stay at home alone for more than a full day. The best thing to do is to go out and do something, whether it’s a leisurely walk or browsing the city for potential job opportunities.
Being immobile and idle is not conducive for success in anything – don’t let this habit take control of you.
8) Create a job if you do not have one
If you’ve just lost your job in the worst recession in decades, it’s possible you will be out of commission for quite a while.
It’s no secret that employers don’t think very highly of candidates who have been unemployed for an extended period of time. The “resume gap” is a real thing. For this reason, even taking a meager, low-paying job is a smart move. Doing this will signal to future employers that you are highly disciplined and are willing to do things that you may not enjoy in the short term in order to get ahead.
If employment opportunities are currently evading you, your best course of action to to create a job yourself. For example, if you have decent writing skills consider doing some freelance work in this field. The money you earn is of secondary importance; the fact that you are providing value by doing meaningful work is what counts.
Another great way to create a job is to do volunteer work. If you are skilled in coding, try donating your time and energy to an online project that’s in beta testing. Many online projects in their nascent stage require the services of volunteers to make them economically viable. If you work hard enough and provide great value you may even be promoted to a paid position in the future.
It is imperative to do this from day one of you being unemployed, as there is no way to determine in the present how long you will remain that way. I, myself, thought I would be back at work in a month…and suddenly a year flew by.
Do an assessment of your qualifications, expertise, and overall skill set to see what value you can provide. Remember: you do not need permission from an employer to be useful to society.
9) Do something out of the ordinary
In order to prevent boredom and stagnation, you should be constantly on the lookout for ways to test the limits of your comfort zone:
- Take a cold shower
- Take an improvisation course
- Learn public speaking
- Take up a martial art
In order to truly feel alive and empowered, people require some element of danger and excitement. Doing random and sporadic things that take you away from your comfort zone will help boost confidence and resilience.
10) Sleep well
Just as important as waking up early at a consistent time, maintaining a sleep schedule will greatly impact how you feel every day.
Find out what time you need to go to sleep each day and how many hours of sleep you require in order to function properly (this varies from person to person).
Lack of proper sleep results in a decrease in cognitive performance, elevated stress levels, a comprised immune system, and a host of other unpleasant things.
What can happen if you do not follow the above steps?
If you want to feel like a loser, do the the opposite of the above ten habits. The following is what can result:
- A large gap in your resume which does not sit well with potential future employers. Finding a new job becomes more difficult.
- Decreased motivation to find work after several months with the possibility of you leaving the labour force permanently. A jobless lifestyle can very easily become addictive and the idea of living on welfare or relying on family to take care of you financially becomes increasingly tempting.
- Your circadian rhythm goes awry due to an unnatural and irregular sleep schedule. In the early stages, disrupting your circadian rhythm will make you feel like you are perpetually jet lagged. Do this for too long and you can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular problems, obesity, and other illnesses.
- You develop feelings of low self-esteem and low self confidence when you don’t look your best. How you look will impact the way you approach life’s challenges and opportunities. This is why it is critical to maintain a clean house, dress well, exercise, etc. People will also treat you accordingly: look like a loser and you’ll be treated like one. Remember, the halo effect is real, so use it to your advantage.
- You have low energy and enthusiasm throughout the day, making it difficult to be productive and get things accomplished.
- Addictions to alcohol, drugs, video games, gambling, or pornography can take hold of you if you do nothing for a long enough period of time. The human mind and body abhors idleness and may take you into dark territories to quell feelings of boredom, isolation, meaninglessness, and stagnation. Be careful.
- You develop neurological disorders such as depression and anxiety. This will have a negative impact on every facet of your life.
- You become overweight, your skin becomes pale, you develop bags under your eyes, you become more prone to infections, you age at an accelerated rate, and just look like crap overall.
Things can get much worse from there, but I think you get the picture. The consequences above may paint a grim picture, but it’s crucial to be aware of how easily how humans can crumble if they feel hopeless, defeated, and demoralized.
The ten habits above are the foundation for getting back on track when things go horribly wrong. Use them and feel like a winner – even if you are currently losing.