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Unemployment's Silver Lining

February 8th, 2010 at 03:25 pm



MainStreet.com has done an interesting series of vignettes on the varied ways that people have made the most of their layoffs.

In The Upside of Unemployment, you'll read about:

* A Michigan woman whose pregnancy coincided with her layoff. She ended up enjoying an "extended maternity leave."

* A commercial real estate analyst who used his unemployment benefits and severance to help launch his own organic beer, something he'd already been working on nights and weekends. When his company began a round of layoffs, he recognized the opportunity and asked to be laid off because he knew he needed to devote more time to ensure the success of his side business.

* A Des Moines woman who discovered that both she and her children would be eligible for a free year of schooling at her local community college due to her reduced income after layoff.

* Newlyweds who decided to leave their jobs together and travel the world. They took the money they received from their wedding, along with what they'd saved for a new house, and went on an extended honeymoon, figuring they didn't really need a house just yet.

* A former Lehman Brothers investment banker who chose to use his free time after a layoff to write a book: about his old employer.

* A former Goldman Sachs employee who joined a gym after her layoff and went from a size 16 to a size 6. She approached going to the gym, she said, like going to a job.

* A woman whose layoff occurred at a time when her mother was very ill and went into hospice care. Having no job meant that she was able to sit with her mother daily without the stress of worrying about her work backing up at the office and she was able to focus on being with her mother in her time of need.

* Another man who used his severance to travel. He earned money by blogging about his travels at http://www.NoDebtWorldTravel.com.

These are all wonderful examples of people who were able to pursue their personal interests, test their entrepreneurial skills or devote more time to family. While there is usually an element of risk involved in trying something new without a steady paycheck to back you up, many of those quoted in this story held high-paying jobs and relied on what were probably hefty severance packages to finance their pursuits.

If you were laid off this week, could you afford to indulge in long-held dreams like travel, or would you have to focus on mere survival?

4 Responses to “Unemployment's Silver Lining”

  1. Single Guy Says:

    Yeah, those hefty severnce packages, or very very understanding spouses/relatives make a huge difference. Seriously, a lot of those are real stretches to be called silver linings. As I went through a 15 month unemployed stretch, I can agree with the personal review of yourself and your life, as well as getting yourself in shape. I did those two, as well as doing a number of projects around the house I had wanted to do for some time. So I never felt it was a wasted time, but I sure don't want to go back to it. I'm happy being solidly employed now.

  2. fern Says:

    If there was ever a time that a positive attitude was needed, it's during a bout of unemployment. So while I read this story with great interest, and a degree of envy, I agree with you that for the vast majority of jobless people out there, unemployment is not a real walk in the park. I don't think it's as chock full of options as this story may suggest. Thanks for your comment.

  3. monkeymama Says:

    My husband got laid off 8 years ago. Best thing that ever happened to him. (Though ideally he wanted to stay home with our kids, and change careers, he never had the guts to otherwise). HE got laid off the minute I got pregnant with our first child. They both kind of happened at once, and were definitely "meant to be" on some level. Though I would have liked 9 more months of a second income, I Was miserable sick and he took good care of me. He was working out of town and not sure how I would have coped otherwise.

  4. Broken Arrow Says:

    That's a good attitude of looking at things though. The reality is that unemployment doesn't typically happen by choice, and when it happens, it's just as well that we try to find ways to leverage that extra time in endeavors that we may not ordinarily be able to pursue.

    Lemon to lemonades.

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