Self development is a lifelong process. You need not be enrolled in school to acquire new knowledge and skills. You just need to be mindful of how you make use of your time and other resources at hand.
Leaving a job and switching careers, while probably the most difficult thing a professional can do, can also be the most rewarding phase of one’s life.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s a chance, a very rare chance, that you get to do a personal strategic planning. And because doing so takes time, it can be boring and frustrating at times. So how can you keep your sanity while in this phase? Assuming that, like me, you have also already started decluttering and simplifying your life, what next? Besides making the most of your indefinite vacation to rest, recharge, and bond with family and friends, here are some things you can do.
There are a lot of free online courses that you can enrol in. By taking one or several courses, you get to improve or update knowledge and skills that you already have, or acquire new ones – at no cost and at your own pace. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about tough assignments, costly projects, or failing the course! I’ve only tried Open to Study but there are a lot of interesting international learning sites that offer a myriad of likewise interesting courses. I’ve also tried a government agency-sponsored course via the TESDA, which reminds me I have yet to finish my cooking course there hehe.
You can also line up books to read and audios/videos to listen to/watch. Opt for those tackling personal development and core competencies improvement. If you are a development worker, you might want materials on development effectiveness, social impact, NGO management, and the likes. If you are planning to start a business, read up on business startups, basic accounting, digital marketing, etc. If you want to improve your literary writing skills, reading novels and other literary works are the ones for you. Whatever your field of interest is, don’t miss on improving yourself – your communications skills, stress management skills, financial management skills, and of course your physical health and overall wellbeing.
2. Apply for jobs and scholarships
Whether or not you still want to be an employee or be your own boss, looking up and applying for jobs keeps you updated of the professional world. Reading the job descriptions and qualifications, you get to see what skills are in demand out there that you might want to also acquire, even the technologies and systems that industries are now making use of. Applying for jobs also exposes you to the application process where you have to really think from customizing your CV and cover letter to answer exam questions in writing, ans verbally if you reach the interview stage, thus improving your communication, self-marketing, negotiation and dressing-up… yes! dressing-up skills.
The same goes with applying for scholarships. Whether you’re decided or otherwise on being a student one again, the process is a very intellectually challenging and stimulating one. You have to read and comprehend every detail from the moment you consider a scholarship program, and squeeze your brain out to answer application questions. It gets more exciting when you are longlisted and asked to take a psychometric exam to be shortlisted.
If you think these are for you, do take it very seriously, be highly optomistic, but at the same time, be ready to accept rejection and failure. The processes alone are already learning curves.
3. Keep simplifying
Minimalism and zero-waste living is not a one-off activity. Rather, it’s a process, a lifelong commitment that you consciously put into practice every single minute. You buy something, you think about how it may re-clutter your home. You eat something, you think about how it can possibly pollute your body. You ignore a call to action, say in favor of indienous peoples’ claim on their ancestral domain, you reflect on how it will impact the people and the environment. Ooops, the last one may already sound too big an issue to touch upon. But hey, isn’t that what minimalism and zero-waste living about? Letting go of material things so that we can focus on things that really matter? Reusing, recycling, and above all refusing waste so that we can save our one and only mother earth?
4. Grow some herbs or vegetables
My mom has a container garden on our roofdeck. It’s nice to water the plants and even nice to harvest them for food or as a natural remedy. I discovered, however, that planting them and seeing them grow is a lot nicer. It’s so amazing to see calamansi seeds germinate on a wet paper towel after a week or two, or a whole bunch of tomato seeds germinate after forgetting to take them out of the water for several days; or kangkong, calamansi, lemongrass and ampalaya growing after having composting them. For me it’s like… Wow, if I had a farmlot I can literally just throw seeds and vegetable scraps and I will have food on my table and extras to sell to neighbors! It also reconnects me to God seeing how generous He is that way.
As I shared in my previous post, ecobricking is a meditative process. Everytime I consume or use something that has plastic, I immediately cut them into inches and stuff them into a mineral water bottle (during which I incessantly sing Sia’s “I push it down, I push it do-o-own…Aaaam gonna swiiiing from the chandelieeeeeer, from the chandelieeeeer). Besides reaffirming environmentalism in me each time I do it, ecobricking moments are also those when a lot of thoughts, ideas, and reflections come to me.
Thoughts, ideas and reflections offer you a better future if you put them in writing and share with others, friends and strangers alike, for some feedback.
Writing alone helps you reflect further, systematize your thoughts, and cement your ideas. Moreover, it is a very good exercise for sharpening your writing skills and widening your vocabulary.
Putting it out there can affirm, reinforce or correct your thinking. It doesn’t matter if you have a huge following or not. Remember that the purpose is not to be popular but to get your thoughts out there, brainstorm with other people, and see things from different perspectives. It also connects you to new people who might be of help (or in need of your help) or become your friends for life!
7. Go out
Well, I don’t mean go out to merely have fun, though I’m not against that either. But the kind of going out that people rarely think about is immersing in communities to discover their purpose in life and give back to humanity. True, life is already stressful enough, but seeing how depressed communities need people like you, and how you can help even when you don’t have that much can be unbelievably, overwhelmingly fulfilling and life-changing. An important note though: charity is good, but solidarity is better. That is, helping is a good start but is not enough. Solidarity – empowering people and being one with them so that they can stand on their own and fight the root causes of their poverty is more transformative is what poor people really need.
The latest community visit I did was to a couple of farming communities identified as partner-beneficiaries of an organic farming project. According to the project proponent, they aim to help these communities start a communal organic farm. They are in the production and technical assistance phase. My commitment is to help with marketing the products, a capacity that they lack and need help with. They told me that farmers often lament that, after engaging in labor-intensive organic farming, they have no market acceas at the end of the day 😧
What do you think of these? Any suggestions? Are they your cup of tea? If not, what do you do to keep yourself productive during jobless periods or any other lull moments of your life?