10 things I would have done if I knew I’d be unemployed for a year


Captain Hindsight anyone?

Hindsight is a magical thing. Decisions seem so much more obvious after we’ve already made them and can see the results.

Sometimes when we make decisions, we can sense right away that we should be doing something else but follow through with what we’ve decided anyway. Like knowing that eating one more slice of pizza will end up giving you horrible indigestion but going for it anyway.

Other times it’s nearly impossible to know what the future will hold. And it’s these situations–the ones that are unpredictable–that make us wish we had the ability to see into the future.

I wish I would have known that finding a full-time job was going to take me a year. I wish I could have circled a date on the calendar that said, “Hey! This is the day you start working full time. Don’t even bother trying to find a full-time job before then because it’s not going to happen until this day.” Life would have been so much less stressful.

If everyone had a date marked on their calendars that told them when they would start working, everyone would be so much happier and actually be able to enjoy their “time off.” Here are a few things I would have done if I would have known I was going to be unemployed for a year:

Taught abroad

Instead of spending a year writing cover letters and preparing for interviews, I could have been teaching English abroad! Depending on which country I would have worked in, I could have ended up making a lot more than I did working for minimum wage in the United States. Either way, I would have gotten to explore a new country, which would have been pretty neat.

Road tripped across the U.S.

Who doesn’t like road trips? If I would have known I’d be a bum for a year, I would have at least bummed around the country and made an adventure out of it.

Started writing creatively

Maybe I could have started writing a novel or a book of short stories if I wasn’t always stressed about finding an actual job. I only took one creative writing class in college, but I loved it. Writing a novel in one year would have taken a lot of discipline, but simply writing creatively would have been a start.

Volunteered more

I volunteered at a local animal shelter while I was unemployed, but I could have easily made a 40-hour week out of volunteering. Think about all of the places I could have helped out and all of the people I could have met! And all the networking I could have done…

Worried less

If I would have known when I was going to be hired full-time, I could have spent less time worrying, doubting and crying. Instead I could have spent that time just living! And being happier overall.

Mastered the piano

I took piano lessons for a few years when I was little, but then I decided to stop when I joined band in 5th grade. My mom strongly recommended I continue with piano, but I didn’t listen. Hindsight strikes again! I could have spent an entire year becoming a rockin’ piano player. Maybe I could have made some money as a street performer!

Worked abroad

I already mentioned teaching abroad, but making some money abroad doing anything would have been nice. Maybe I could have become a sheep-herder in Australia or an au pair in Germany.

Taken a class

Photoshop? HTML? Photography? I could have taken a number of interesting classes that would have helped me with my career goals in the long run.

Taught my cat tricks

My cat is pretty smart. I bet all pet parents say things like that, but I honestly think I could have clicker-trained my cat pretty easily. I probably could have trained her to become a YouTube sensation and made MILLIONS!

Become a master chef

I’ll admit it. I’m not very good at cooking. And the entire process of making a huge mess (while you’re starving) and then having to clean it up isn’t very appealing to me. But learning to cook well is probably something I should learn how to do, and I could have had an entire year to devote to it.

Even though I didn’t do any of these things during my unexpected year-long sabbatical, there’s no reason I can’t do them now or in the future. I’m still wading into the adult pool, so maybe it would be a good idea for me to check some of these off my list before I head to the deep end.

If you had a magical career calendar date, what would you have done with your unemployment time?


9 thoughts on “10 things I would have done if I knew I’d be unemployed for a year

  1. I love how readable this article is, Lauren – brief and punchy. I really like your note at the end about still considering doing some of these items; I think that’s a great plan. I could do a whole list of “What I Should’ve Done Before I Had a Child” – and I wouldn’t have guessed most of the items until after she arrived. (Top on that list: Sit in a bookstore and read for hours and hours. And more hours.)

    • Thank you! I know; I’m not planning on having children for a while but I still tend to think about things I want to do before that time in my life comes. Reading didn’t come to mind, but I guess once you have kids things become very noisy and hectic. I’ll have to add that to my list!

    • Yes! Excellent choice. It’s hard not to stress out about being unemployed, but you’re right, it doesn’t help. Instead of being depressed over rejection, we should use it as motivation to try harder with the next application or interview. Good luck out there!

  2. Pingback: The Nod of Approval | Drive All Night

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