8 Unemployment Lessons From the Last Recession

unemployment lessons

Just a few months ago, I wrote about how I quit my job during the last recession and how I was terrified I would do it again.

Well, here we are! I recently gave notice, and started my sabbatical, and the markets continue to plummet. The Nasdaq and DJIA are both down over 20%; and even more notably the normally more stable bond markets have taken a huge hit too.  

So now what? Surprisingly, I’m not as scared as I thought I would be. 

First, I saved a considerable amount to be ready for my sabbatical, and I can get health insurance. But, I must admit I’m still a little bit nervous. 

So I spent some time reminding myself of the unemployment lessons I learned during the last recession that still apply today. 

Unemployment Lessons I Learned During the Last Recession

Here are eight unemployment lessons I learned during the last recession that I will apply again this time around.

1. Remember, It’s Only Temporary

The most important thing about recessions is that they end. We never know exactly when they will end, but unless the world completely collapses (which I don’t believe is likely), this too shall pass. 

Remind yourself that this blip is not going to last forever.

2. Use The Time to Reinvent Yourself

During the last recession (where I quit just before it started to embark on a round-the-world-trip) I couldn’t get a job. Instead, I went to law school. This led me to a career that has earned me a considerable amount of money and a skill set I will be able to continue to leverage for the rest of my life. 

It wasn’t entirely what I planned, but without the forced pivot, I would be in a much different spot today. 

3. Invest in Yourself

Besides getting a law degree during the last recession, I also invested in myself in other ways. 

I signed up for a $97 course (it was the early days of online courses, so $97 was actually an “expensive” class at the time). Through this course, I gained a set of digital marketing skills that I then utilized to do freelance work. I credit this single class to helping me to earn enough money on the side to pay for law school. 

I enjoyed the work and used a different, more creative side of my brain.

4. Side Hustles Are Key

When I wasn’t working full-time during the last recession, I had about five different side hustles going. One of them earned me lots of money (the one that paid for law school), while the others were fun but sort of flopped. 

They were all good distractions from the daily bad news of the recession. More importantly, all of them helped me help other people.

5. Taking Control for Yourself Is Less Scary than Relying on a Company

As much as having a W-2 job feels safe, working for yourself can actually be more certain and less scary. 

During a recession, if you get laid off, it’s scary because you are 100% reliant on others for pay. But when you are working for yourself, you know which dials to turn to start earning more. 

6. Less is More

During the last recession, I really learned that less is more. Not just in terms of stuff, but in terms of what you have on your plate to do. 

Instead of staying busy with the usual day-to-day, now is the time turn inward, find peace, and know that you are strong, resilient, and you will get through this. 

7. Take Care of Your Health

Your physical and mental health are always a priority, but this is especially true when the markets are down and you don’t have a job. 

Make sure you take care of your health above all else. Here are the easiest habits to improve your health

8. Get Out and Volunteer

One of the best things to do when things seem glum is to get out and help others. Take the time to volunteer. 

Ideally, you should volunteer in person. However, if that doesn’t work for you, this post has 13 ways to volunteer online. You will be surprised how much helping others helps you. 

The Bottom Line

Whether you are currently taking a sabbatical, are planning to quit your job, or are just nervous about what the current market downturn will bring, I hope these unemployment lessons I learned during the last recession will help you. 

If you are planning to stick around your job for a while, that’s good as well. Just remember, if you’re stuck, here is how to find fulfillment at work.

This post is part of our Sabbatical Sundays series. To read more, click here.