I was working for an Internet company in late 2000 when, like many people, my position was eliminated. It was my first time being laid off (but not the last). I was devastated … and scared.
Unlike many “dotcom” companies, the one I worked for survived the first recession of this century. At the time, however, I did not think that I would survive.
I did not know how I would survive sudden unemployment with no money in savings and no new job prospects. I did not know how my career would survive or ever prosper again.
Every day I woke up terrified of what might come next. Another bill I couldn’t pay. Another resume sent with no response. Another day with no new job leads.
I was out of work and out of money. I had little hope and many worries.
I knew I needed to do something differently to change my job search results. But what to do, I did not know. That’s when I had a truly INSPIRED idea.
It was spring 2001. Although I was not a church-going Christian then, I often abstained from something, usually a food group, in observance of Lent. Unemployment had already limited my diet that year, so another food sacrifice did not appeal to me.
I knew that whatever I gave up for Lent should be something that I depended on, that I felt I needed to live each day comfortably. Giving up that thing, whatever it was would be a true sacrifice.
That’s when I knew what I had to give up for Lent: Fear.
As a job seeker, fear was one of the few constant things in my life. Fear affected all of my decision-making, my outlook on life, and how I chose to interact (or avoid) people.
If I wanted to change my job search for the better, I would have to give up fear.
For 40 days I challenged myself to let go of fear and be courageous in my job search … and in life. I stumbled a few times, but most days I made better, bolder choices. And my career benefited from it.
Instead of avoiding follow-up calls, I picked up the phone to connect with employers and set up job interviews. Making those calls often felt like torture, but I did it. And I landed a few assignments through temp agencies, thanks to my perseverance.
Letting go of fear also meant taking career advice even if it sounded farfetched.
A friend of mine suggested I interview with her company for a job I knew nothing about. She assured me that my skills would be a good match. I was skeptical, but prepared for the interview the best I could and went to talk to her supervisor.
It turned out that the job was a good match for my skills. I worked with that company for a year-and-a-half before the next phase of my career transition started.
Honestly, when the 40 days of Lent were over, I did go back to some of my fear-driven habits. But the “Lenten experiment” showed me what I was capable of when I put my mind to something. And I got a good-paying job and renewed confidence from the experience.
Other things job seekers might give up for Lent (or any time period):
Your Turn: What are you giving up for Lent? Do you have suggestions for job seekers?
- ‘What I’m Giving Up for Lent’ (Beliefnet)
- Cool Things To Give Up During Lent (The Ironic Catholic)
- 33 things to give up for Lent (300 Words a Day)
- What to Give Up for Lent: 25 Creative Ideas (Life Teen)
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