Patience is not simply the ability to wait, it is how we behave while waiting.Joyce Meyer
For the sake of this post, “down time” is specifically that season of life where you find yourself between jobs. There are many possible reasons for down time. Sometimes it is your own choice, such as a career change, leaving a toxic environment or maybe certain family considerations. Other times it is someone else’s choice, perhaps downsizing, a spouse’s relocation or even termination. Regardless of the reason, down time can bring a number of distinct challenges as well as numerous opportunities.
10 Tips for Surviving Down Time
1. Eat healthy
I can’t emphasize this enough. Eating healthy will not only give you more energy and allow you to focus, it will help to reduce anxiety and depression. The temptation to snack and eat comfort foods will be strong, but resisting it will have its rewards. Keep your home free from these foods and stock up on healthy alternatives.
2. Stay active
Together with eating healthy, being active will improve your outlook and disposition dramatically. It will also help to keep off the pounds that tend to get added during down time. Go for a walk to clear your head instead of watching TV. Ride a bike, go for a run or just spend some time outside. If you can’t go to a gym, find ways at home to exercise regularly. If weight training isn’t for you, try yoga.
3. Keep sharp mentally
While staying physically active is vital, it is just as important to keep your mind working. Reading is a great way to sharpen your mental faculties. There are lists galore available on leadership, business, self-improvement or any interest you may have. Search for the 10 best books on whatever is of interest to you and set aside some of your down time for reading.
4. Activate your spiritual life
Discouragement and depression are constant battles during down time. By tapping into your spiritual life you can use faith to energize you. Think positive thoughts and start your day by repeating a motivating mantra. Collect motivational quotes and scriptures or make your own declarations and repeat them every morning out loud to yourself.
5. Get up and keep a routine
It is natural to relax, take a break and sleep in, especially at the beginning of down time. The problem comes when you start sleeping later and later, and you procrastinate with all of the things on your ‘to do’ list. Lethargy can quickly set in and it will be followed by discouragement and depression. Start today by setting your alarm. Get up like you are going to work and work at making yourself better.
6. Add to your toolbox
Spend some time sharpening your skills. You have Photoshop listed on your resume, but you haven’t opened it for several years. Now is the time to brush up on those skills. HTML? Build a portfolio website. Find ways to dust off your skills and renew your interest in them. Build a project to showcase your skills.
7. Learn something new
Always wanted to learn HTML? Now is the time. Java programming? Python? What about SQL or Visual Basic. Maybe you are interested in photography and photo editing. Marketing and design? Real estate? There are numerous online resources (free) to help you learn some new skills or just have fun. The hardest part is starting, so make a commitment and stick to it.
8. Get active on social media
Although Facebook has its place, you will probably find better career results in other places. Find and follow some accounts on Twitter for companies and careers that interest you and interact with them. Take the time to update and improve your profile on LinkedIn. Join some groups and follow some Influencers. Participate in discussions on forums.
9. Go to user group meetings, training seminars, gatherings
These are excellent resources for learning and for networking. You are able to add or enhance your skills and meet new contacts in your area of interest. Search online for user groups in your area. Down time should not have to be alone time. Make the effort to interact online and in person with others.
10. Reconnect with contacts
Most jobs come by way of someone you know. It doesn’t have to be a close connection, but it is usually through some kind of networking contact: a past coworker, someone you have done business with, a friend of a friend. Renewing your connections with your contact list and making new connections is a big key to shortening your down time. You never know when who you know will make the difference in your life.
One final thought
When searching for a job, stretch yourself, but be realistic about it. Check your resume to make sure it accurately reflects who you are and what you can do, but don’t be afraid to step up to new challenges. Avoid disqualifying yourself, let your potential employer be the one to do that. You might be surprised to find you are exactly what they are looking for in a new employee, someone who is eager to learn and grow and who is hungry for a fresh challenge.