Unemployment and lifestyle

CV Tips is an employment advisory service. We've been around for quite a while, and we're under no delusion that unemployment is anything less than infuriating on a daily basis, an utter misery for people, and sometimes for years on end.

We don't do stock advice about the subject of unemployment. It's too serious.

We're not talking about good outcomes, meeting the challenges of adversity, or unemployment being a positive experience, or clichés of any kind.

Such things are meaningless without actual applications, if not actually insulting, and useless.

Coming from people who may or may not have had any experience themselves, and aren't up to date with the current situations, buzzwords aren't much help.

What follows is intended to be useful, practical advice, and hopefully helpful perspectives for people undergoing the ordeal of unemployment.

Lifestyle and unemployment

Let's start from the beginning, the onset of the disease of unemployment.

The first and biggest initial shock in unemployment is the change in lifestyle. It can be quite severe, and it's not easy to prepare for it.

There's a real issue here, and it's frequently overlooked. Lifestyle quality is extremely important to people who are unemployed. The need is for stimulus and release of tension, having a life, not just wishing for one.

Specifically not needed are more tension and a series of unwanted, unpleasant stimuli like cow prods. Unemployed people don't need to be reminded of their problems, they need to see something going right.

Normal things can become luxuries, and everything suddenly becomes relatively expensive. There are added costs which were previously handled on auto pilot that are soon looking like extravagance, or budget threatening.

The normal social life can also be suddenly curtailed. This is pretty stressful, particularly for younger people, who are forced out of the loop of their friends. People resent the situation, and it is extremely aggravating.

The trouble is that it takes a while to adjust, and even the adjustment is annoying, because it makes people more conscious of lacking basic needs.

There are ways of dealing with the effects of unemployment on lifestyle. It's very much a matter of adjusting your mindset to useful things, and working with what you have. You can still do many, maybe all, of the things you used to do, but you need to plan ahead.

People in middle class income brackets are inclined to take for granted a lot of daily things that being unemployed can seriously block. Just going out on the weekends can become an issue. Some hobbies and normal shopping can be completely stopped in their tracks.

The lifestyle issue usually produces some overreactions. The normal reaction is to Go Cheap, which, on principle, isn't such a bad idea, because the less you spend, the better. However, that also produces a reaction, where you may find yourself spending money to cheer yourself up.

Understandable as it is, that's an own goal. You can spend money, but preferably not to the extent of cutting your own throat in the process.

You'll find you need to be systematic about your lifestyle, and this is where the planning kicks in, along with a bit of personal perspective.

We'll go through this facet by facet, so you can ask yourself some questions. The best way to prioritize anything is to be sure you're being realistic about things on your own terms. When unemployed, if you're not convinced you're doing the right thing, the added doubt is just another annoyance.

Lifestyle and costs

Here's a few obvious but necessary questions you may not have had time to ask yourself yet:

  • What's the best way of doing the things you really love to do?
  • How much do you actually need to spend on the things you like?
  • What do you already have, that can give you the lifestyle you want?
  • What's a realistic, way of regularly doing the things you want to do?

As you can see, all practical stuff. That's actually a positive, for once, because you've got some ideas of your own to work with.

What you can't do isn't much of a basis for thinking.

What you can do is the real, important, working reality.

In detail:

What's the best way of doing the things you really love to do?

This is a question you will love to answer. Generally, unless you actually need a Rolls Royce, luxury liner, private jet and penthouse to live, you'll find your favorite things are still doable.

How much do you actually need to spend on the things you like?

There's a bit of a consumer myth that you have to spend a fortune on things that give you pleasure. In practice, you'll find that the pleasure is in the mental state, not in being a compulsive shopper. With the things you really enjoy, you probably know a lot about how to get what you want.

What do you already have, that can give you the lifestyle you want?

People start collecting the things they like pretty early in life. Working 9-5 tends to reduce the actual time available for living your preferred lifestyle. It's one of the reasons people put so much effort into lifestyle when away from work. You'll find you've created a pretty respectable collection of the things you need for the lifestyle you want. You may, actually, find you don't really need to spend much at all.

What's a realistic, way of regularly doing the things you want to do?

For your social life, and the various bits and pieces where you need to spend, all you really need to do is plan your expenses and your times, preferably well in advance.

The planning is necessary, anyway. You'll soon see that your various commitments to job hunting, training, and interviews have to be scheduled and managed effectively.

Job hunting is a job in itself, and it tends to operate in business hours. You can plan your weekends, public holidays, and occasions, though, so you really don't have to do detailed mapping, just keep your times organized.

Budgeting isn't necessarily a problem, if you can give yourself a bit of leeway, and don't spend on non-essentials. Things as basic as a nice weekend and an extra bottle of something or a good night out are well worth a bit of discipline. Anything which allows you some relaxation will pay for itself, many times over.

You don't have to stop living.