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Can Unemployment be Positive?

Updated on September 5, 2013

To the matter at hand...

If you saw the title of this piece and clicked on it intentionally, the likelihood is that you have recently been, currently are, or about to become unemployed. This sucks. There is no getting away from the morale blasting nature of this experience. I have gone through this... most people in their lives have endured this situation at some point or other. I think we can comfortably assume that the emotional response to this set of circumstances in the majority of cases - was negative.

What I am going to say to those folk who are currently (or shortly going to be) unemployed... is congratulations! I do not mean this sarcastically. This is one of the greatest opportunities you have ever had.

Life changing video

In my role as an Employment Trainer for TCV Employment and Training Services one of the most important aspects of my job is what is sometimes called 'reframing'. This means that when I enter a room full of people who have recently lost their jobs for whatever reason, I am looking to change those people's negative impressions about their situation, into positives.

You remember that old saying "every problem is an opportunity"?. Well, let me suggest now that if there is no problem, then there is no opportunity. In fact, the bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity. If you don't believe me, go and talk to a successful entrepreneur about this same topic. You will discover that many of those successful businessmen went looking for problems. When they found one big enough - they set about providing a solution - and charged people for it. Confronting problems and thinking your way to a solution is where progress and innovation comes from.

We do not learn or grow if we stay in the same place, doing the same things forever.

Many people spend their lives doing jobs they hate to pay for things they've been told they should want in a never ending repetitive cycle of resentful work and debt. So while unemployment (and the associated negatives that come along with it) is definitely a problem - it is also a truly awesome opportunity. An opportunity to take stock, retrain, redirect and take control of the path of your life.

All those people who tell you that you can't do the things you really want to do? Stay away from them. They are perpetuating a cultural myth and encouraging nothing but complacency and apathy. Such negative influences should be beneath your notice. It's not their fault - society as it currently is embeds this false set of self-doubting beliefs into people from an early age. That being said - it not being their fault doesn't mean you have to listen to them.

If you have been working desk jobs your whole working life but have always craved an outdoor-type job... then research outdoor careers. If you have always wanted to teach - then find out how one goes about becoming a teacher. Narrow down your options, work out the steps to achieve your goal... then carry it out.

It sounds so simple - and yet this is one of the hardest things to do. When broken down into its composite parts no one task is particularly arduous. It is when the idea of the journey to your goal is viewed as a whole that the psychological walls fly up. We have to train ourselves not to look at the journey in its entirety. Otherwise it's like trying swallow a sandwich whole instead of taking bites. No wonder people choke!

When the true import of this opportunity sinks in - it is truly empowering. You feel sympathy for all those people stuck in jobs they don't like. You just got given a free pass out of there! The world is your oyster... if you work for it.

...and here's the catch. Yes, your new found freedom is a great opportunity for you to change tack, change direction, realign your career with your vision of an ideal future... but no one is going to make it happen for you. You are entirely responsible for what happens to you and how well you do in your chosen path.

My role as an Employment Trainer is not to "turn people into" ideal candidates. It is to facilitate their own self-transformation. In the end - no one can tell you what you need to do. They can provide you with information and teach you skills - it is still up to you to make use of the knowledge and put the skills into practice.


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    • profile image

      David Newnham 

      4 years ago

      Once you've managed to get those involved over the 'shock' (and all that it brings), then yes, the world of opportunity is theirs. Even those expecting redundancy are often deeply moved on an emotional level once reality bites. Identifying and managing the shock, once the opportunity presents itself, is the vital point of intervention, and "congratulations!" at this point isn't going to work. Whilst I agree with the majority of your post, I feel you may have skipped a point or two in your eagerness to make your case.

    • Dan Barfield profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Barfield 

      4 years ago from Gloucestershire, England, UK

      Absolutely true!! However, having worked in this field for two years I can honestly say the percentage of those who choose to sit back and take the cheque is very small. Most genuinely want to work but are constantly demonised by the press. If you are constantly accused of being lazy and free-loading off the state even when you are applying for (and being rejected for) jobs wouldn't you after a while feel inclined to say "f...k you!" to the demonisers and do exactly what you've been accused of? That is the danger of the current media rampage against the poor in the uk... I don't know what the situation is like in Texas.

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 

      4 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Unemployment can be an opportunity to change directions. But choosing to sit and collect a check, becoming inert, is a slow path to obsolescence.


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