I’ve always loved to work and have been super lucky in my life so far, from the age of 16 I have never been without a job, ever. As I started sixth form, I completed my first gymnastics coaching course and worked during the evenings and weekends for my local gymnastics club. Fast forward 8 years, I’m still coaching (now self-employed) and have also worked for some amazing companies. I interned throughout my undergrad and was kept on for a graduate role in events. When I started my Masters I decided on a bit of a career change and joined a small start up as a marketing intern. Once my internship finished I remained at the company as a marketing executive and then progressed to marketing manager!
Then Monday 4th January came. I’d just finished an evening coaching session and there it was sat in my notifications, back into lockdown we go. It didn’t come as a surprise but it was still disappointing to think I won’t be back coaching for at least a couple of months. On the morning of Tuesday 5th January an email popped up from my manager; “Morning Zara…” I knew instantly what the rest was going to say. Just like that my job was gone, I had a feeling it was coming yet it still hit me like a tonne of bricks. For the first time since I was 16 I had no work. Not even coaching to keep me going. It was all gone. I’m not going to pretend I was fine, a lot had happened in less than 24 hours, I sat on the sofa and cried.
As someone who loves working and had consistently worked for so many years, losing my job was a horrible experience. I’d been fortunate and had never lost a job before or been out of work so it took me a couple of days to process everything and come to terms with what it meant to be jobless in a pandemic. It’s been a while since it all happened and I managed to pick myself up far quicker than I’d anticipated – maybe, just maybe, I’m more resilient than I thought?!
Unfortunately I’m not the only one, I’ve seen too many students and graduates in the same position as me – either losing a job or being placed on furlough as a result of the pandemic. It can be difficult; losing that structure, those daily interactions with your team, and something that gave you so much purpose. But I soon learnt that there were other things I could be doing to help give me some of that structure and purpose I craved (spoiler alert: it’s not seeing how many hours of Netflix I could watch in a day). So, here are some of my tips on dealing with job loss or loss of work:
Take Time to Reflect
Give yourself time to process what has happened, if you can, speak to family or friends and allow yourself to feel how you feel in that moment. You lose a big chunk of your daily life when you lose a job and it can be a lot to come to terms with, especially if you’re like me and enjoy being busy. I put a lot of pressure on myself and hate feeling like I’ve failed, so recognising that losing my job wasn’t my fault was a big step for me. Take time to reflect on what happened, what you learnt, and how that can help you move forward.
Ok this one sounds simple but, as you may know, can actually be quite difficult when there’s nothing to really get dressed for. I’ve found getting dressed really helps me start the day properly and stops me being tempted to stay in bed and scroll through Tik Tok for hours and hours! Getting dressed in the morning sets me up for the day ahead, ready for whatever I have planned – even if I put on leggings and a hoodie, it really does make a difference to my head space.
Goals & Daily Intentions
Writing down what I want to do and planning my day has given me some much needed daily structure. At the moment I have a list of weekly goals which I break down into smaller daily tasks. My bigger goals might be something like finish 75% of the course I’m doing or workout 4 times a week, then my daily tasks are finish two mini-modules of my course and complete a workout. I find structuring it like this stops me from being overwhelmed or completing things way too quickly and having nothing left to do.
There’s been a few courses I’ve wanted to complete for a while and now I have the time to do them! I’m currently working my way through a Google Digital Garage course and have a couple others planned too which I’ll add to my CV once finished.
As well as courses, I’m reading blogs, industry reports, and keeping an eye out for LinkedIn articles too. But learning doesn’t have to be about adding to your CV, if there’s something you’re interested in learn about it while you have the chance, you never know when you’ll have this much free time again!
The Job Search
Like many, I’m now on the hunt for a new job in the middle of a pandemic. It’s hard, but I’m making sure I don’t spend hours in front of my laptop refreshing job sites! In my daily plan, I allocate a small bit of time to job search and then some time to complete applications. I only look once a day, if there’s something I want to apply for I save the job and work on the application.
My biggest piece of advice; don’t spend all day looking for vacancies! I know that’s definitely easier said than done but it’s really important to give yourself time to do other things and let your mind switch off.
Over the past year I completely fell out of any form of an exercise routine. I was doing a lot with work and my Masters so exercise wasn’t a main focus of mine. Now I have a chance to get myself back into a routine and am doing workouts regularly and really enjoying it!
Exercise has always been really important for my mental health and I’ve needed it now more than ever – I feel so positive and happy after each workout and it gives me a huge sense of achievement. I currently use the Nike app and workouts I’ve put together myself but there’s so many great options to follow on Instagram and YouTube too!
As well as workouts most days, I’m also spending more time outdoors. I have two dogs and am very lucky to live somewhere with loads of different woods and hills so I make sure I get outside everyday to walk the dogs and explore.
Like exercise, getting outside leaves me feeling super positive and is also the perfect opportunity to switch off from the digital world. I do my best to not use my phone when I’m out on a walk, although I do take the occasional photo – got to get that landscape shot for the ‘gram, right?!
Take some time to enjoy something just for you. Not something to better your CV or help your job search, not something you think you should be doing, but something you want to do for no reason other than because you want to.
I can’t recommend finding something you enjoy enough, it could be something new to you or an old hobby that you want to revisit. I used to love art so have started doing digital drawings, I’m planning to start sewing again too! It’s so nice to do something for me and I find this is my favourite way to switch off from everything.
Although it’s great to keep busy, learn more about your industry, and try something new, sometimes a day curled up on the sofa watching TV is needed. If you feel like you need one of those days then allow yourself to take it! Grab all of the snacks, get your favourite TV show on, and breathe.
My final thoughts…
I know there’s so much going on in the world at the moment and I’m absolutely not in the worst position but please know your feelings are still valid if your going through a job loss or something similar.
You’re allowed to be sad, angry, frustrated, or however you feel. But please don’t let that consume you. Life can be tough, especially at the moment, but you are stronger than you think, and to be oh so cliché; you’ve survived 100% of your worst days.
It can be pretty hard out there for us graduates but be gentle with yourself, we will get that job, we will achieve our goals, and we will learn so much about ourselves in the process.
If you feel you are struggling or need to talk, please reach out to someone. If you aren’t in a position to speak to family or friends, here are some fantastic resources and places you can contact:
Student Minds: https://www.studentminds.org.uk/#