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Unemployment can affect your finances, lifestyle, mindset and career aspirations, often leaving you confused about what the future may hold. However, despite its disadvantages, and no matter how challenging your current situation might be, being unemployed presents opportunities for making both small and life-altering decisions that you might not otherwise have explored.
Financial distress is often one of the biggest disadvantages of unemployment, even if you’re out of work for only a short time. Although unemployment benefits or a severance package might soften the blow, neither is a long-term solution. In addition, you’ll still be responsible for paying income tax and child support obligations from these amounts. On the other hand, a financial crisis forces most people to look at monthly spending more closely and from a perspective of buying what's really needed rather than merely wanted. In this way, a short-term financial crisis can become the inspiration you need to improve or learn better money managing skills that can carry over to the long term.
Lifestyle changes that often accompany unemployment are severe for some people and not easy for most. Disrupted daily routines, fewer social interactions and being out of the loop are common disadvantages. In addition, unemployment often requires that you cut back or eliminate activities such as weekend trips, nights out and hobbies. However, this will allow more time to spend with your family and develop new interests, such as volunteering to help someone in a worse position than you are.
Mind-set and Perspective
Financial worries, grief, anger and resentment can result in an emotional roller coaster, especially if you tend to define yourself in terms of your job. This major disadvantage can make job searching difficult, and become worse the longer it takes to find a new job. Although this process is normal, and recovery does take time, you will eventually reach a point where the future doesn’t seem as bleak. This point affords a prime opportunity to look inside yourself and deal with personal issues you might otherwise have denied, ignored or put off dealing with.
According to Sander Flaum, an author, adjunct professor and executive-in-residence at Fordham University, unemployment can become the best thing that ever happened to you. It gives you time to assess long-term goals and create an action plan that for some people is life-changing. If you’re happy in your current line of work, you’ve got time to strengthen your personal brand. For example, you can get involved in social media, post comments on blogs in your field and take classes to sharpen your skills. You might shift into an entirely different career or start your own business -- new and potentially rewarding directions you might never have explored without the temporary disadvantage of unemployment.
Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.