The end of December is one of the hardest times of the year to be unemployed. The peer pressure for good cheer is outrageous, the financial pressure of gifts is huge even for those with a steady paycheck, and the constant catchup with friends and family means everyone will ask, “how are you doing?”
Here are ways to feel better in these situations if you are having a tough time right now.
1. Remember that most people have empathy.
The biggest shift in the workplace is that unemployment always looms, for everyone. It used to be that people who had “good careers” did not have to worry about being unemployed. These people had a ticket to retirement if they just stayed in one place and put in their hours. In those days, being unemployed was the equivalent of being a failure. Those days are over. Today everyone worries about being unemployed. Most people have been laid off more than once. Almost no one is so arrogant to think they are better than you because you can't find a job right now. And if you do meet someone who snubs their nose: They are delusional and out of touch, and should probably be more worried than everyone else about their own employment.
2. Not everyone has good cheer.
The good cheer thing: It's a consumerism thing. I mean, it's one thing to have warm, fuzzy family stuff. But the hoop-la and happiness seems extreme. And I can't be too far off on this because the post on this blog with the third most comments ever is along those lines: Five Things People Say about Christmas that Drive Me Nuts. So if you can remind yourself that the holiday good cheer thing is not a mandate, and certainly not ubiquitous, then you won't feel so isolated when you do not feel the good cheer yourself.
3. Talking about something difficult with family is good for you.
Really. It will make you feel closer to your family if you can tell them what's really going on with you. Your family doesn't need to hear the sugar-coated version. They love you not matter what. Or, if they don't, then it's a good time to face that, right? The other thing is that handling tough career conversations with your family actually improves your career overall.
4. Your job hunt can go into high gear right now.
December and January are the most common times for people to get hired. I know it seems like no one is working in December. But actually, the companies that run on annual budgets (which is most companies) have a use-it-or-lose-it policy. So if people have extra money for hiring in December, they have to make the hire. And in January, there is fresh money and people go on hiring sprees. (That's why we just published the Brazen Careerist Top 50 Companies for Gen Y to work at. Now is the time to check out large companies like those.)
5. Remember that you are the locus of control.
Your happiness cannot be dependent on economic indicators. Really. The difference between being someone who is generally happy and someone who is generally unhappy is whether or not you perceive that you can control your life. Happiness is about outlook. So start doing things that you can control instead of depending on a job to save you.
You can build skills to add to your resume whether or not someone pays you to do that. (You can build work skills with your significant other!) You can build your own network without having a job. And you can create structure in your life — a harbinger of a successful person — whether or not a job is dictating that. The best way to become a person who feels like they control their life is to talk about your life like you can create the life you want. So, do that, right now, and you might even feel cheery.