Monday, January 15, 2007

Coping with Unemployment

One of the challenges facing job seekers is that they have an almost constant need to surface new ideas ... new ideas of job titles to pursue, industries to explore, and companies to approach. But the unemployed person faces an even greater challenge: how to generate a stream of new ideas on an almost-daily basis when the stress of unemployment is more than enough to chase every good idea you might have right out of your brain.

One way to feed your need for new ideas and combat the burden of unemployment-related stress is to start an idea log.

An idea log is a written record of all your ideas. Some people log their ideas in a small notebook, or their planner, or even their PDA. Others keep a pile of post-it notes in a particular place. Be as high-tech or as low-tech as you like, but keep track of your ideas somewhere:

  • Log the idea itself and the date, at a minimum. You can optionally include the time/place where the idea occurred to you, and additional details or spin-off ideas related to what you wrote down.

  • Keep your log simple, and you'll find it easy to maintain.

  • Make your idea log portable. If you can jot down your ideas when and where they occur to you, you are more likely to do so. If you make yourself wait until later to write an idea down, you more likely to forget it all together.

  • Write down all kinds of ideas. Don't just record ideas for jobs, employers, and industries, but ideas for self-employment, how to market your business, how to earn money on the side, how to save money, new projects you'd like to launch, and whatever else comes to mind. Remember: the more regularly you respond to all of your ideas, the more likely you are to have the perfect idea exactly when you need it (like when you're in an interview for your dream job and really need to be on your toes!).

  • Examples of ideas my clients or I routinely record: job possibilities, career options, classes we'd like to take, dream jobs, vacations we'd like to take, home improvement projects, ways to help someone in need, ministry ideas, ways to save money/time/energy, ways to make a difference/contribute, ways to redecorate on a budget, meal plans, gifts we want or would like to give, business ideas, ways to market ourselves/our business, to name just a few.

  • Periodically pull your idea log out and review it. What patterns do you see? Is one idea, or several versions of the same idea consistently showing up? This is an important thing to notice!
Lastly, here are a few brainstorming resources for you:

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