Your company tanks. You get laid off. You get fired. You quit. You find yourself without work, and suddenly you lose sight of what you can do to turn life’s lemons into lemonade. Pity parties are natural, but are not a productive way to spend your newly found free time.

Job hunting is a given, as you will be networking like crazy to find new opportunities and to re-connect with those whom you have lost touch, but networking and job hunting will only take up a few hours of your day. What will you do with the free time you have been allotted? Here are a few ideas that may help you grow your talents and re-focus your life.

Learn new work-related skills:

The “summer brain drain” that happens to students during the summer, can also happen during a lapse in employment. Keep up on your learned skills while out of work to stay sharp, but also find a way to learn new skills that can update your resume, introduce you to new groups or even take you on a new career path. Are you established in your career? Find a reverse mentor and learn what they know. Lisa Quast, Forbes Magazine Contributor, says that reverse mentoring is when a younger worker educates and mentors established workers in new skills (ex: social media, online networking, and having a pulse on what’s going on). If you are looking to hone your IT skills, sites like, can teach you basic IT programming languages for free.

Hit the books:

Going back to school to get your master’s degree or to obtain a bachelors degree may fit in perfectly with this time slot. You can take classes during the day and have more time to work on projects and homework in the evening. If you are looking to brush up on general education subjects like math or history, websites like can teach you about history, math, science, business, etc. All you have to have is patience, time and curiosity.

Roam where you want to:

Depending on what your finances look like after leaving a job, now is the perfect time to take that road trip, visit countries you’ve never experienced, and see your friend from school that lives on the other side of the country. You may never have a chance like this again until you retire, so make the most of your time. This can be linked to honing new skills, if you decide to start a blog about your travels and experience (hint, hint).

Get involved with your community:

Have you always wanted to help out at a hospital, community center or homeless shelter? Now is the time! For the foreseeable future you will be able to volunteer during normal operating hours, providing maximum help to the organizations regular workforce. In addition to growing yourself as a person, you will be able to work with and meet new people, which can potentially lead to new networks, new opportunities or even new friends. As we have said in previous articles, refreshing your surroundings can refresh your mindset. Helping people is a fantastic way to gain perspective and re-establish your personal and professional goals.

Work out!

Like it or not, life catches up to us and with our schedules as well as the schedules of our loved ones, finding the time to work out can be hard to fit in. If you are already part of a gym, go to the early classes and workout with people who will be on their way to work. You may meet new professional connections or friends. This way after class you will have time to work on yourself. If you are not a gym member try exploring new places such as nearby state parks, road running routes or taking up a kickboxing class. Any way you get active will help your mind and body.

Give yourself a break

Depending on the nature of your newfound freedom, one of the reasons you may not have been performing at your peak at work is stress. We all experience stress in one form or another at different times in our lives, but now that the stress of work is not on your plate it would be in your best interest to give yourself a moment to breathe. Don’t be so hard on yourself, and remember that the only thing you can do now is focus on re-balancing your life, so have fun with it!



Author: Elyse Lopez