THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Unemployed? It's time to launch the new you

The turn of the year 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, and 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 is a consumerism thing. I mean, it's one thing to have warm, fuzzy family stuff. But the hoop-la and happiness seem extreme. 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

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. 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

The difference between being someone who is generally happy and someone who is generally unhappy is not dependent on economic indicators; it's 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.


Penelope Trunk has started several companies and worked for many more.