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How To Make The Most Of Being Unemployed

How To Make The Most Of Being Unemployed

If you are like me, in her 30’s and has had her fair share of being in and out of the workforce, you would know that being unemployed – aside from not earning the money that will pay your bills, is not that bad at all. That is, if you use this fleeting space in your life wisely.

Think of it as your own personal space. When else are you able to accomplish things without a deadline, or where nobody is evaluating your performance or expecting that you do a task a certain time? In this time of job uncertainty, make the most of your time out of the workforce. Now is your time to make yourself a better you.

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Find out what you really want.

Why did you leave your last job? Was it what you really wanted to do and what you were passionate about? Use this blank space in your career to evaluate yourself – passions, opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses. Now is your time to reflect. Use what you find out about yourself in choosing your next job opportunities.

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    Slack, but do work.

    Yes, this is the right time to slack off. No need to be at work by 8:00 am. No boss to please and no more fitting in runs to the vet for your pet’s appointment in between meetings. Awesome. But this probably isn’t what you want your life to be like forever. What you should do is get up from bed and scan the job market. Research about the company that you have always wanted to work for. Send out resumes.

    Do something you have always wanted to do.

    Dye your hair purple. Take on that hike that you never got to do because your back was always aching (thanks to your office chair). This is the perfect time to make the story of your life more colorful.

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    Learn something new.

    Attend a writing class. Get a canvas and start painting. Register for free online Excel classes. Learn to cook new dishes. Find a hobby that you can enjoy now, and that you can continue doing when you find your next job. All of these will contribute to an improved you.

    Spend time with loved ones.

    Go visit grandma and grandpa on their farm. Call your sister and ask if you can babysit her kids while she is out. Go to your parents’ house and watch a movie. Or ask them to come over. This jobless period in your life is fleeting, and so is life. So spend time with people closest to your heart.

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    Start being healthy.

    Go use that rusting bike in the garage and make it a habit to bike at least three times a week. Or start using the old treadmill in the attic and start walking or jogging around your neighborhood. Then keep on the habit.

    Be where you always wanted to be.

    Go visit another town. Or state that you have always been fascinated about. This doesn’t only make you a well-travelled person but exposes you to a different environment where your next opportunity might be waiting.

    Meet new people.

    Remember those weekends when you were stuck running errands that you couldn’t do on weekends? They are gone for now. Use your new weekends to make time to have conversations with people that you cross paths with. Make a connection. Whether it is your next-door-neighbor that is mowing their lawn and you’ve never spoken to before, or a person in the grocery aisle looking at the same product as you.

    Prepare yourself for a new you. Inhale. Brace yourself for a new you. Your next job could be standing really close to you. Be a better person for it. Savor the time where you don’t have to report to anyone but yourself. Let this time in your life turn you into a stronger and deeper person, and not the other way around. Chances like these don’t come around a lot, and when they do, make sure that you come out of it the most brilliant, well-rounded person than you have ever been before.

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    Sarah Bonander

    Writer, Human Resources Professional

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    Last Updated on July 16, 2019

    7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

    7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

    Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

    In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

    There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

    1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

    The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

    Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

    Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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    2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

    When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

    The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

    It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

    By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

    3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

    At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

    Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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    Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

    You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

    Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

    4. Don’t Take Sides

    In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

    In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

    By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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    5. Don’t Get Personal

    In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

    People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

    To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

    Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

    6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

    The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

    Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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    Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

    7. Think Win-Win

    As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

    In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

    Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

    Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

    People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

    Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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