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Economics of Mindset: Poverty and Motivation

Updated on April 10, 2016

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Unemployment and Employment
Unemployment and Employment | Source

Long-Term Unemployment

Long-term unemployment is a syndrome; it has a complete set of characteristics unto itself including financial poverty, hopelessness, chronic stress, fear, anger, and sorrow.

Navigating economic conditions such as job scarcity to secure employment necessitates development of a battlefield mentality. Each workday of every year with inadequate to no money further exacerbates an already difficult job search with interminable interviews often not leading to employment.

The primary characteristic distinguishing the long-term unemployed from the rest of America’s jobless is bad timing. It is not how many hours they worked at their old job, or what industry they came from, or even their level of education.

The single biggest predictor of whether someone will be out of work for a year or more is the state of the economy when a person loses a job. Over the past 15 years, a period spanning two recessions, a one-point increase in the unemployment rate increased an individual’s odds of remaining unemployed for at least a year by about 35 percent. No other characteristic- age, sex, race, marital status, education, or occupation, among others- had even close to that big an effect.

Fluid and Long Term Temporary Workforce

Unlike corporate executives and graduating college students, the former middle class now lose the luxury of working close to home and follow out-of-state jobs to maximize earning potential based upon skills set. Moving out-of-state may no longer be an elective. Secured employment may be transient, necessitating uprooting themselves/family several times in short periods. This is the reality of long-term unemployment and poverty in our midst.

Poverty

If people were asked to define how poverty affects the long-term unemployed, many would say it is about lack of money or it is what happens when people do not work or have not worked for a long time. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

Poverty in the long-term unemployed is a chronic; mind/body condition exacerbated by the negative, synergistic effects of multiple, adverse, economic risk factors. Risk factors include lack of money to pay for housing, lack of housing, loss of a home due to foreclosure, loss of material possessions, loss of a rent, repossession of a vehicle, inability to secure adequate housing due to poor credit and inadequate finances, and lack of necessary medical and dental care. Its duration and chronicity lead to brain changes.

Stress/Chronic Stress

Stress is the physiological response to the perception of loss of control resulting from an adverse situation or person. Occasional or "roller-coaster” stress is healthy for all of us; it supports our immune function and helps develop resiliency. However, the chronic stress experienced by the long term unemployed leaves a devastating imprint on their lives. Chronic stress refers to high stress sustained over time. Frequently, modern life exposes people to long-term stressful situations. Stress, then, becomes chronic.

Common chronic stressors include:

  • Persistent financial worries-mounting expenses with finite savings
  • Long-term relationship problems
  • Loneliness
  • Fear
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Hopelessness- a never-ending downward spiral.
  • Anger-Excessive stress on relationships/ subconscious fear of not pulling weight
  • Sense of betrayal

These devastating changes are actually long-term, carry-over stress that continues day after day. Those living in poverty experience a chronic stress overload with continued feelings of helplessness.

How Does Poverty Change the Brain

In long periods of negative conditions, the brain adapts to these changes.

In doing so, changes in the brain bring about damaging behaviors. The effects on the human brain from chronic exposure to poverty are more than demoralizing. The relentless stress of long- term unemployment is destructive and continues on an unprecedented level resulting in:

  • Poor financial choices-Cashing in long-term savings and retirement accounts to meet short-term obligations
  • Inadequate Nutrition- Consuming unhealthy foods in excessive or inadequate portions
  • Sleep Disturbances-Turning in very late at night or very in the morning. Waking up frequently, inadequate deep sleep, insomnia
  • Lack of Motivation/Initiative
  • Helplessness
  • Poor Coping Skills-Anger, curtness, inadequate performance in interview process.
  • Interpersonal skills-Personal communication skills decline.

Can the Brain Change?

Long-term unemployed can become motivated to succeed. The brain is designed to respond to experiences, both good and bad. This means that while the long-term unemployed may have suboptimal brains, positive experiences can and do change the brain. Those living in poverty can and do succeed. Although they can come back, the take-home message is to never give up.

Motivation

Motivation is a theoretical construct used to explain behavior. It represents the reasons for people's actions, desires, and needs. Motivation can also be defined as one's direction to behavior or what causes a person to want to repeat a behavior and vice versa. A motive is what prompts the person to act in a certain way, or at least develop an inclination for specific behavior. According to Maehr and Meyer, "Motivation is a word that is part of the popular culture as few other psychological concepts are." www.wikipedia.com

Creating a more positive you, takes time and daily practice, so try to incorporate as many methods to help. The article “Staying Motivated Will Pay Off” offers great tips to getting and staying motivated.www.careerthinker.com/keeping-motivated

  • Keep a list of motivational quotes that inspire you; read them often, even several times daily. Write them on post-it notes and stick them around areas so you will see them often.
  • Learn to leave the past where it belongs in the past; continue to better things-new job, new experiences, new people, and a new chapter. Dwelling in the past can lead to negative thoughts and lack of optimism. Decide to live in the present with an eye focused on the future.
  • Self-talk yourself positive, don’t feel sorry for yourself, and don't indulge yourself in pity parties.
  • Get excited about possibilities and how they can become reality.
  • Make a list of people and things that you are grateful for right now in your life. We often forget to appreciate the good things that surround us.
  • Look in the mirror and look your best. Every day look your best and take care of your appearance and how you dress. When you look good, you feel better about yourself, which builds self-confidence.
  • Eat right and stay fit, when you look good on the outside it’s easier to feel good on the inside.
  • Avoid the energy vampires, you know the people that are full of drama, negativity and drain your positive energy. Try avoiding these types of people, if they are close friends or family members; wear your garlic.
  • Positive and negative energy are both contagious so simply surround yourself with positive people.
  • Take note of people who overcame major hardships and are successful. Have you ever seen or read a story of someone with a major disability and how the person overcame it against all odds? Look on the internet for these types of inspiring stories.
  • Don’t get negative about a job you interviewed for that you did not land. Think of that interview as practice to help you get the real dream job. Keep a list of things you identified that you could have done differently for future interviews.
  • De-clutter your surroundings and work space. You need to carve out a space where you will perform your job search. Ensure it is neat, organized and surrounded with items that make your feel good; family photos, plants, works of art, your favorite scent or whatever else that inspires you.
  • Music can have a very positive effect and dramatically change your mood. Create a play list that simply makes you feel good, motivates you and keeps you moving. Even singing can release stress, so go ahead sing out loud to your favorite songs.
  • Smile, simply be conscious, and make sure you smile at everyone you meet. You will be amazed at how powerful a smile is and the positive energy people will give back in your direction.
  • Turn off the news and don’t read the newspaper headlines. Over 80% of news media is negative and during a job search you have no time or need for this information. In the evening instead of the nightly news, watch your favorite sitcom.
  • Get the recommended amount of sleep, a well-rested mind thinks clearer, but don’t overdo it and hibernate, being unemployed is not a season; you can’t sleep it off.
  • If you normally go to the gym, meditate or play sports. Physical activity can have a positive effect on you. Always consult with a physician on any fitness programs.
  • Creating a powerful LinkedIn profile.


References

Casselman. B. “The Biggest Predictor of How Long You’ll Be Unemployed Is When You Lose Your Job.”

Eric Jensen, is the author of Teaching with the Brain in Mind and Different Brains,

Different Learners and Enriching the Brain. He is a staff developer, working with

schools from poverty and may be reached at diane@jlcbrain.com

Solimini, J. “Economic Recovery with a New Meaning” Web log post. LinkedIn. Pulse, 27 Dec. 2015. <www.linkedin.com>.

Solimini, J. “Long-term unemployment is a syndrome; it has a complete set of characteristics unto itself.”

Characteristics include financial poverty, hopelessness, chronic stress, fear, anger, and sorrow. Navigating economic conditions including job scarcity to secure employment necessitates development of a battlefield mentality. Each workday of each year with inadequate or no money further exacerbates an already difficult job search with interminable interviews often not leading to employment.

Solimini, J. “Economics of Mindset: Motivation and Poverty”

Unlike corporate executives and graduating college students, the former middle class now lose the luxury of working close to home and follow out-of-state jobs to maximize earning potential based upon skills set. Moving out-of-state may no longer be an elective. Secured employment may be transient, necessitating frequent uprooting several times within short periods.


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