Use any time off between jobs to rest effectively, define goals

Valerie Poteete of Las Vegas had for six years been the Wishing Faery, motivating and teaching children to think positively.

“Feed the fairies; starve the goblins,” she’d tell them in her guise as Penelope V. Pendragon. She’d been traveling to work in a motor home and living there.

The new job would be different.

“Gosh,” Poteete thought. “I gotta drive all the way across town. Yes! A 45-minute commute. I have to dress, not wear pajamas.”

The paycheck would motivate her to change some of her habits even as she’d continue to build her business. Her new job as creative director would involve developing marketing materials for a product slated to combat rosacea, a skin condition. She had six days to shift gears.

Sherry Ray, president of Centennial, Colo.’s Sherry Ray Consulting Inc., advocates stopping and thinking about what you need to do.

“If there’s something you truly want to accomplish,” she says, “get it done as soon as possible so you can enjoy the rest of your time off.” Scrap the “shoulds” in favor of “I want tos” to avoid wearing yourself down, she adds.

Most people, says Chicago’s Elizabeth Lombardo, a clinical psychologist and physical therapist in private practice, “stop everything. They eat, watch television and just veg out,” as if to reward themselves.

The alternative?

“Efficient resting,” Lombardo says, “choosing healthy food, spending some time relaxing, walking, taking time with friends and meditating — quality time, not staying up late watching movies and drinking alcohol. Get moving. Any type of movement will do. Dance around your house; jump on the bed; take a kickboxing class; go for a hike. Moving your body brings a really powerful nonpharmacological advantage to you psychologically, physically and in relationships.”

She adds that planning the first week’s food will keep you from leaning on McDonald’s.

Life and career coach Eileen Lichtenstein, CEO of Balance &Power Inc. of Long Island, N.Y., approaches the situation as a whole. She advocates communicating with your close relationships so everyone understands the change you’re anticipating.

“Get everything else in order,” she says. “Tie up loose ends. … Your car might need an inspection next month. Instead, do it now.”

Daisy Swan, career coach at Marina Del Rey, Calif.’s Daisy Swan &Associates, would concur. She says that a pattern of not relaxing during a job search and concern over spending money unnecessarily often leads to overlooking routine medical and dental appointments. Don’t forget those, either.

Poteete acted.

“I have to reschedule my schedule now that I won’t be home,” she remembers thinking. “I don’t like to eat in a rush. I’ll have a half-hour break with a kitchenette not there.”

She began a three-hour weekend habit of grocery-shopping. At home, she’d pull everything out of the grocery sacks, separate the food into five containers and parcel out her plasticware. The chicken she’d cook for dinner would add protein to lunches.

What do people forget to do? Poteete wishes she’d gone to the beach, because she had more free time and more control over her schedule during the gap. However, she may not be giving herself enough credit, because once the elation evaporates and all of the adjustments hit, your emotions may slide.

She threw herself into organizing her closet and attending to projects she’d been avoiding.

“I spent my time making the transition smoother,” Poteete says. “Cleaning up and reorganizing pulled me right out of my prejob slump.”

Dr. Mildred L. Culp of WorkWise® welcomes your questions at © 2013 Passage Media.

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