Five Ways To Stay Sane During Unemployment

I’ve been on the job hunt since June 1, 2010, almost five months. In that time I’ve been very fortunate to have received support from my family, friends, and social network buddies.

Job searching can be an energy-draining and demoralizing process. Dozens of resumes and cover letters are sent out, screening calls happen, interviews happen, and zippo. Despite coming up empty, I’ve managed to stay sane by following these five rules:

  1. Say Yes!
  2. Exercise
  3. Eat well
  4. Network like it’s going out of style
  5. Be Grateful
Say Yes!

E3 Concert - Say YES
Life isn’t a movie but I love the film Yes Man with Jim Carrey. If you haven’t seen the film, the Jim Carrey character meets a personal development guru and he is bound to say “Yes” to everything that comes into his life – or really bad things happen.

I’ve taken the same Yes Man approach to opportunities and it has taken me on some interesting paths. For example, rocker Dave Navarro (@davenavarro6767 on Twitter) posted a tweet asking if anyone was interested in free tickets to see him perform at the Staples Center for an E3 event. It was 6:30am on a Sunday and I tweeted him back. A couple of days later, I was watching Dave and Jane’s Addiction, Eminem, Rihanna, Usher,, and N.E.R.D. perform a few feet away. It’s really difficult to feel down when you have amazing experiences like this.

There was also a certain amount of serendipity at play as I had a scheduled job interview the very next day at the LA Convention Center, only a hundred yards away.


Morning walk with Ivory
Rejection is physically draining so doing exercise is great way to counteract the negative juju and keep the engine going. I take my Lab, Ivory, for a 30-minute walk every morning. This gets me out of bed, starts off my morning routine, and serves as a solid victory that I can build upon. Walking and spending time with Ivory is also very grounding. I give myself permission to enjoy the time and be present.

I’ve considered taking up more intense sports but the closest I’ve gotten is doing more gardening. The tomato plants are doing nicely, thank you.

Eat Well

I’m a stress eater. When the negative boo birds start chirping my impulse is to go straight for the cookies. About a year ago, I decided to give my body a break from red meat, all soda, cookies, and greasy food. By replacing those foods with healthier ones, I dropped 30 pounds in three months and found that I had a lot more energy.

I really needed that extra energy boost after being laid off. It would have been super easy to have given up on the healthy eating but I’ve mostly stuck with it and kept off most of the weight.

Foods that have helped me release the weight and boost my energy:

  • Oatmeal
  • Trail Mix of unsalted mixed nuts and berries. I add these to my morning oatmeal with soy milk.
  • Salmon fillets. Costco has great deals on them. I grill them with a chili powder, chili pepper flakes, paprika, and olive oil rub.
  • Chicken salads. You can actually get pretty decent chicken salads at most major fast food places. I go for a balsamic vinegar dressing on the side.
  • Turkey burgers. I love hamburgers but I’ve cut way back on red meat. A turkey burger with moderate dressing on a whole grain bun is still delicious.
Network like it’s going out of style

140conf lunch networking
Job searching can drag you into a pit if despair, if you let it. The best way to do that is to isolate yourself.

I’ve been networking my ass off for the past five months. I’m a people person so I get energy being around other people. I’ve been attending networking events even if I have to drive two hours into LA. Networking surrounds me with creative, energetic, entrepreneurial, cool people, and new learning experiences. I’ve also received a lot of job leads, offers to review my job search strategy, and partnering opportunities.

In addition to saying “yes” to the purely fun stuff, I’ve also said yet to volunteer opportunities. This includes helping to plan a CAUSE fundraiser where we raised over $80K. It was great connecting with community resources and I made a lot of contacts that led to job interviews. Volunteering is a great way to tap into new networks.

Volunteering is also great because it puts you in the “work zone.” It was interesting seeing this season’s The Apprentice opener which includes laid off and underemployed participants. In the first episode, participants were totally rusty at working together and project management. Several of them commented on that. Volunteering will help you stay sharp. Right now I’m knocking on doors to help Get Out The Vote, co-producing a Latinos In Social Media (LATISM) conference, and managing online sites for two Stanford Alumni groups. Are these activities helping to keep me energized? Yes. Will they lead to a job, we’ll see.

Be Grateful

Being unemployed sucks. If that’s all that’s on your mind then it will drag you into its negative vortex. Focusing on the people and things in my life that matter has helped me stay hopeful and positive.

If you’ve read this far then I suspect you may be in a similar situation. Let me know if I can help in any way and best of luck to you.