Write your own story

Written by Waynne Meek
Write your own story

Unemployment throws a curve ball at even the most organised people. It makes them doubt their skills, their value and their direction. There’s lads of information to be found on the topic – lots of statistics and reports tell a cold, hard story. But those stories are about trends, numbers and averages. Every one of us has an individual story – if you can craft and tell that, it’ will be a warm, compelling story really worth hearing.

Cold reporting

Finding yourself out of a job is hard for most people. Punt. Now we have stated the obvious, let’s dig a little deeper into some of the reasons for this that you might not have thought about.

First, it can be damaging to your physical health. Studies have found that people are more likely to have poor health habits – including smoking or drinking more, eating badly, sleeping more erratically and so on. The fact that you are psychologically ‘down’ makes you give up on lots of regular habits. And that’s even before you start to consider the ultimately unthinkable outcome – suicide rates also go up.

There’s also research saying that unemployment can be detrimental to a person socially, with unemployed people often retreating into themselves and starting to feel more and more alone. Other reports talk about how unemployment can affect families, with divorce rates rising as couples struggle to deal with financial and personal impacts of either, or both, being out of a job. And then there are the stories about how unemployment is bad for business, for the economy, etc, etc. 

But, at this point you could be forgiven for thinking “OK, I don’t care about the economy, I am more worried about myself right now!” Actually, all of this information, all the statistics and reports, the pundits and the political rhetoric becomes just so much more blah! Although some of this is interesting, and could be relevant, the more important facts are the ones that you get from yourself. How do YOU feel? What is YOUR plan?

Warmth from personal storytelling

You are not a number, or an average, you are a story. Your story has ups and downs – characters and scenarios. What you need to think about is what that story is right now – and how to write the next chapters to get to the ending you want. While all those statistics and reports can give you ideas, you need to make sure you are using them to craft your own chapters, not allow yourself to become a statistic yourself. Your story will be much more warm and compelling – because it’s about you. These other reports and graphs are, by definition, cold – they are about an average, distant, ‘person’.

Once you have reflected on your story up to now, with its introduction and its early chapters, you can step back and take stock. Then you can decide how you want the next chapters to unfold. Most writers will tell you that even the best plans often change. But those plans give structure to move forward, even if the ending is quite different. You never know what twist in the tale could crop up. A perfect role in shining armour could appear on a remuneration horse of gold, or maybe the wicked witch of rejection gets dissolved in a bucket of the water of confidence….

Ok, now I am being silly, but the point is simply this. You own your story, and the best stories have interesting twists and turns. There are multiple paths to a happy ending –  you just need to find the one that works best for you.

Empower can help

It’s all very well for me to say that you can write your own story, but what happens when you get writer’s block? It happens to everyone at some point, and that’s when you can turn to others for help. But choose the ones that are neutral – sometimes those closest to you have already figured out chapters or pages of your story in their mind. You need someone who can listen to your story and your options and help you to move them forward. They are editors of your story – and a good editor works with the author to smooth the edges, rather than rewriting it in their own style….

We at Empower Amsterdam provide free coaching sessions for those out of work to help them to do precisely that. Our coaches can provide a listening ear (in several languages), and have a lot of experience in helping people to figure out there way forward. We can help you regain your self-worth and empower you get control over your career.