Unemployed person planning at computer

unemployed in 2021:where to start

The beginning of a new year signals renewal, fresh starts, starting over, and increased motivation. Harnessing all these aspects can focus and energize you if you’re entering 2021 unemployed.

Taking your unemployment for what it’s worth

So, you’re unemployed now. Regardless of whether you got laid off, canned, or quit, you’re jobless. And depending on the circumstances of how you became unemployed, the fact is that you’re here, and you may be wondering what is next for you. Many of your decisions might be based on income or the usual benefits. You should always do what you need to do to maintain your livelihood and security for yourself and your family. Your decisions might be based on finally doing what you want to do instead of what you think you should. Maybe unemployment is your crossroad to a new path in life and a different career. It could be one that fulfills you in ways you never thought possible. And just the same, you should always do what you want to do to maintain your sanity, happiness, and fulfillment. If the COVID-19 vaccines are effective, Kiplinger expects labor markets to rebound quickly in 2021. I challenge you to take this encouragement, see a fresh start in front of you, and focus on a career that dreams are made of.

What do you dream about?

When you dream about your next career move, what comes to mind? Do you even think about it? It’s not atypical not to think about these things as it’s not normally where we begin. As women, we are particularly concerned and focused on what we do for others; we put ourselves last in line all the darned time, especially in hopes and dreams. But at midlife, we are more in tune with our personal needs and tend to listen a bit more. Add coming off the shitshow that was 2020 – why the heck not put ourselves first!

What are you passionate about? Allowing our intuition to guide us may open doors to more fulfilling opportunities.

Do you know what your passionate about?

Many of us know ourselves really well by this age, and that includes a deep sense of where our passions are. But don’t be alarmed if you don’t. Sometimes it’s just that you haven’t had a free second in the past 20 years to think enough about it. Not to worry! There are a ton of free or low-cost career assessments you can take if you really don’t know where to begin – and we’re talking blank-slate thinking.  A good one that examines values, like and dislikes, working environment preferences, compensation targets, and more is available here at Career Test. You’ll pay a fee, but it’s nominal at less than ten dollars. You can even find a promo code once in a while that will give it to you for five bucks. Even if this doesn’t give you all the answers you want, at the very least it could get your wheels turning about what might pique your interest. Note, if you’ve been working for a long time, you might already know the answer to the question of your passions. Maybe you’ve been a technical project manager for your whole career but you’re also excellent at and happen to love designing and delivering training when you implement a new system. Maybe taking the route toward corporate training is your next step. 

Or maybe you’ve been in corporate training throughout your career, but you find joy being around children – they just light you up and make you smile. So, perhaps becoming an educator is your next move.

If pursuing your passions sounds like something other people do, but not you, why is that? One study shows that 74% of Americans have quit a job to pursue their passions; 87% did it because they wanted to be doing meaningful work. And it wasn’t millennials running around doing this – it was Generation X and Baby Boomers too, and at higher rates.

The fun of blue-sky thinking.

The fun of blue-sky thinking is about what you love to do in your free time and how it can be a fun and exciting career. But often, when we’re employed and working hard, that’s where the fun stops. We don’t have the time or necessity to take it any further.  But you’re not working now, remember? So, no excuses! You have more freedom to do some blue-sky thinking! A favorite question to start with is what you would do if you had the time? Think about your hobbies, what you do on the weekends or after work, and how you can turn those interests into a new career avenue. Perhaps it’s doing the type of work you do now, but working with a different population or in a different industry.
What are the things that people always tell you you’re good at? Research those jobs to give you some fresh ideas. Forbes has some great thoughts on how to turn hobbies into jobs, and it’s worth checking out.

Taking the plunge into working for yourself

Maybe you’re done with the rat race and want to start your own business. Perhaps start with freelancing just to see what it’s like. You can check out the popular freelancing site, Fiverr as a way to dip your toe into selling freelancing services. This can be an easy way to gauge the reaction to what you can produce for others and at what rate. 

Try something on the side to see what you like and don’t like about it. Many people stick with freelancing long term and full time after seeing that they can crank out excellent work quickly and make some nice dough. When done right, there are some pretty amazing perks – money, freedom, and peace of mind.

You could also pursue independent consulting in your areas of expertise. Leveraging the contacts in your professional and personal networks and striking up conversations can be really fruitful. Asking about the biggest problems they are trying to solve will give you great insight into a market or line of work where you could have a real impact. 

A bit of effort can lead to starting your own business. In fact, it can be an exhilarating adventure. Being your own boss is a dream that many people have, and in midlife, it might just be the right time to leap. It can keep you more satisfied long term compared to your peers. In an AARP article, 85% of those over 50 who work independently are delighted in doing so, and those who continue beyond age 67 are the most satisfied of all with working independently. An Inc. article states that if you’re in your 40s or 50s, you might think it’s too late to start a business, but it’s actually the perfect time. This makes me giddy with excitement because this was when I started my own business. Whether it’s a full-on business or a side hustle that you start while continuing to work, it can be very fulfilling. Side hustles are extremely popular because they don’t take a lot of time to set up. It is estimated that over 44 million people in the U.S. have one. 

Afterall, is it really possible to start over after 40? HELL-YES!

When all is said and done, is it really possible to start over?

Making a career switch at any age is totally possible, but it can be even more meaningful and successful after forty. You have experienced behind your work, you have the confidence to take a calculated risk, and you know what the hell you want, finally! The biggest thing that might be standing in the way of super-duper happiness in your career could be you. What obstacles are standing in the way of making a career change or other choice? Are you too quick to pass judgment on opportunities that might arise, and are some of those opportunities exactly what you’re looking for?  Is maintaining your current salary worth it? Oftentimes, making a career switch to follow our passions results in the same pay or even a bit less. Would you take 20% less pay to be happy? What would you be willing to sacrifice? The grass is not always greener: you’ve probably left a job to get higher pay at some point along your career timeline, but it wasn’t necessarily worth it. What skill or expertise do you have or could get to do the work you now want? There are a ton of low-cost resources to be found online. There are Facebook events, LinkedIn events, webinars, Instagram lives, brief courses on LinkedIn Learning, Udemy or Open Learning, books, blogs, podcasts, etc. 

Pulling it all together

It is all about making a plan to gain employment when unemployed and be thoughtful, choose, and courageous. That will make all the difference for you. Take it one step at a time, but that doesn’t mean it has to be slow. Pace yourself as you think about what getting back into the workforce means for you after being unemployed. You might make this move the best one yet!

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Julie Brendich
Julie is the owner of Harmony & Success Personal Coaching, LLC. She’s a long-time leadership development expert having spent over 20 years working in multiple industries, helping leaders become more effective and successful. She works with clients on the wisdom of the “Midlife Awakening” and how it can be the catalyst for massive, positive life transformation in not just their careers but also in their most precious relationships, self-care, and spirituality. She holds advanced degrees in psychology and is credentialed as a Master Spirit Life Coach and Certified Professional Coach through the International Coaching Federation. A midwestern native from the suburbs of Chicago, Julie approaches the coaching process with her clients in a down-to-earth way where each client can be their true selves. It is her life’s purpose and biggest joy to help midlife women achieve their goals.
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