By: Harold Leffall
“I don’t know what to do.” “I’ve tried everything and I still can’t find a job.” These are the sentiments millions of Americans are voicing in the wake of prolong unemployment as so many are spending months, even years searching for employment unsuccessfully. Long-term unemployment has affected every demographic from the unskilled laborer and mid-level professional to the executive manager.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the odds of a person who has been out of work for more than 27 weeks finding a new job is one out of ten. With approximately 6.3 million Americans who fall into this category, these statistics offer very little hope to those diligently seeking work. Behind these grim numbers are real people struggling to not lose hope.
During this extraordinary time of massive transition, fear and frustration have become the excruciating new norm for so many who search intensely without success.
Take Kathy, 52, who has worked in food services for the past 20 years and has been unemployed for the past 16 months. She lost her apartment and is staying in a homeless shelter. Kathy is also one of 45.8 million Americans relying on food stamps as the only means of ensuring that she has food to eat. Every day she is sending out resumes, applying for jobs on-line, sometimes applying for as many as twenty jobs in a day, yet she remains unemployed. “It’s tough out there and I don’t know what to do,” Kathy says as she asks herself the question “how did I get here?”
Recently the National Employment Law Project (NELP) released a report that identified 150 help wanted ads in which employers specifically indicated that the “unemployed need not apply.” This new fact is especially disheartening as there are now jobs that the unemployed are excluded from consideration.
This new wave of extended unemployment is forcing many to completely reevaluate how to make their lives work. Gone are the job titles and regular incomes that so defined who they thought they were.
Stephanie, 47, a college educated marketing professional who has been without employment for close to two years starts each day contemplating her future. With her emergency savings gone, she relies solely on unemployment insurance to pay for rent, car insurance, utilities and food expenses. Gone are the occasional splurges of a dinner out or a movie.
When Stephanie first became unemployed she never thought it would take her long to secure another position. “Finding a job was never difficult for me in the past” says Stephanie. The unsettling condition of the current employment market has left her struggling to figure out what her next step will be. She has had a few interviews but with no job offers she wonders what it will take to land a job now.
Stephanie has not given up hope. In between looking for employment she has used this time to explore other interest and has found that creating affirmation cards a source of inspiration as well as a potential means of generating income.
If you consider that half of the Fortune 500 businesses today were started during a bear market or recession economy, this could be the needed push for those who have been dancing with the thought of someday starting a business.
Still others like Michael, a 37 year old recent MBA graduate, spends time honing his skills by volunteering with a non-profit where he is gaining real life experience that he hopes to be able to use as a selling point to potential employers. He was certain once he got his MBA the job offers would come quickly but he is six months into his job search and the competition is jam packed for too few opportunities. Through his volunteer experience Michael has discovered a passion for social enterprise. He is using his business background to assist a non-profit agency in developing an enterprise to generate revenue for the organization and provide employment for the homeless.
In the midst of joblessness, Michael found purpose using his business skills to uplift those who are suffering the most in our society.
Although unemployment is a time of uncertainty, there are concrete actions that can be taken during this time of transition.
6 Things the Unemployed Can Do:
Volunteer – share your gifts and talents with a nonprofit organization; they always need help and it is a great way to remind yourself that you can still make a
Gain New Information – take a course or enroll in college to ensure your skill set is relevant and marketable.
Entrepreneurial pursuits – create a product or service you can provide that people are willing to purchase.
Intern – internships are no longer just for college students and can be a
great way to gain experience and exposure.
Write a book – with the growing trend of eBooks it cost very little today to become a published author. It can be a great way to enhance your credentials while creating a source of income.
Teach – organizations are always looking for talented individuals to conduct free workshops and seminars and is a great way to demonstrate your expertise.
The old ways of securing employment are no longer effective. The key is to remain engaged. Stay visible. Commit to a daily practice or ritual of uplifting activities that include reading inspirational material, journaling or any self improvement activity that reminds you that your life has a purpose. Those that successfully rebound are those that are able to remain upbeat, creative and open.
I am ready to start really living. I have not been living
my full potential. I am ready to pursue my dreams.
A fresh start…a new beginning is what each breath of life
offers us. We are given the gift to shed old worn out thoughts,
beliefs and patterns that yesterday kept us bound. In this moment,
fueled with new information and clear revelation, we are able to
start again with a clean slate. Not limited by our past we are
able to live a life that is in harmony with our truth. What is true
is that every moment offers us an opportunity to begin anew.
Every breath offers us a new beginning to begin again. We are
no longer tied to the pain that has kept us repeating the same
lessons over and over again but we now move in the newness
that is always available right here, right now. It is our rebirthing.
The good news is that we don’t have to wait for an appointed
time or event to live better. We are able to experience new life
immediately. Each breath represents newness.
(excerpted from the book Living from Within by Harold Leffall, Jr.)
Jesus said, “I come that you might
have life more abundantly.”
Like so many I struggled for years trying to make my life work.
I thought I was on the right path…I went to college, got a job
and believed I was on my way to the fulfilling life of my dreams.
After a number of years of effort to find my path, I arrived to a
state of divine discontent as my zest and drive dwindled away
and I was living in the “just making it” realm. Making just
enough to pay my bills and working just hard enough to keep
Deep inside I knew there had to be more to life. My
highlights had become paydays and Fridays. As I looked around
I realized my situation was not unique; in fact, it seemed that
most people were simply reacting to the winds and waves of life.
It appeared that for some, the only thing keeping them going was
the idea of one day retiring (albeit 15 – 20 years down the road),
while in the meantime settling for an unfulfilling existence.
This experience I was going through drained me. I knew
that I did not want to continue on this path of constrained living.
I needed more! And at first I thought the “more” I sought was
purely material: money, houses, cars, relationships, etc. I had
made myself believe that if I had more of these status symbols I
would be achieving my purpose. So I worked hard and was able
to accumulate many of these things, but I was still not able to
attain the “more” my soul yearned for. Although I had amassed
material possessions, I still felt there was a huge void in my
From the outside looking in I may have looked like
“SUCCESS” but in reality I was being dictated by a need to
constantly accumulate “more”, rather than focusing on the
“more” that was already within me. I felt hollow; like a shell
that looks nice on the outside but is empty on the inside. It took
becoming financially bankrupt for me to begin to see how I had
operated for most of my adult life out of a “Consciousness of
In my quest for fulfillment I began to discover some very
important truths about living. One of the most important lessons
I learned right after my bankruptcy was that life was a choice
and that I was capable of changing and transforming it from the
inside out. I could choose to allow the shame and trauma of the
bankruptcy and foreclosure of my home to break me or build
me. The loss of all my material possessions actually resulted
in my gaining a greater awareness of my true self. During this
awakening I began to learn the power of “being still.” It was
in those still moments that I started to “get it.” The truth is that
at our core we all desire more peace, more joy and yes, more
prosperity. There is an internal hunger that every human being
has within themselves to evolve and become more of who they
were meant to be.
As I began to understand and embrace this
divine power, I noticed that every area of my life improved and
I became more happy, more wealthy and more fulfilled.
I have found very often that in our pursuit for a richer
life we often find ourselves discouraged and frustrated as it
seems the more we push for greater achievement, the more the
increasingly abundant life of which Jesus spoke eludes us. The
reality is that when we have allowed ourselves to accept certain
conditions over an extended time, we forget that we always had
a choice, no matter how desperate or challenging the situation
might appear. Poverty or power is a choice! The good news is
that you no longer have to live with lack and limitation. The
wise elders have said, “If you knew better you would do better.”
The lessons in Living from Within are meant to show you how
to better create and attract that which you desire so that you can
live richer. The truth is, if you are not happy with what you are
getting out of life, you must consider carefully what you are
The journey we are on is not just about financial abundance
but is really about living a life of authenticity and power. What is
Power? Power is the force of creation and transformation within
us that allows us to manifest our reality. It is our ability to create
the life we were meant to live – a life of purpose, joy and absolute
fulfillment. You were born to win, to conquer and to rise above
challenges – not to be overcome by them. You possess the ability
within to radically alter your life experience. Such is the gift you
have been given by God that allows you to live an abundant life
– it is up to you to use your internal power to receive it. This is
the ultimate choice.
Living from Within was written to remind you that we
were all born in the image and likeness of God and are connected
to the ultimate power source: God. When we recognize our
connection to Him, we embrace our role as co-creators of our
lives. Contrary to what we may have been taught and told, we
are all worthy of abundance – the abundance of joy, health and
wealth. It is not something that we must earn – it is our birthright.
I offer to you, my beloved friends, these lessons in living to help
guide you in your journey toward living more fully.
Q: Harold why did you write “Living from Within?”
A: I wrote “Living from Within” because I realized one day that I was not at peace with
myself. Outwardly, my life appeared fine with no major issues that should have
caused me concern. However, internally I was in a state of confusion. Frustrated
that my thoughts were filled with worry and fear and I didn’t understand why.
Q: What were you worried about or fearing about?
A: Although like I said, I wasn’t facing any immediate risk in particular. I feared losing what I had. And I was frustrated with not being where I wanted to be with my life. I simply felt drained because I didn’t know what to do. I was at that place of what should I do – when I don’t know what to do!
Q: So because you felt worried and didn’t know what to do, you decided to write a
A: No, the book came to be by the process of me trying to find answers to why I was in
this worried state of mind. I simply asked myself the question: How did I get
here? This later ultimately, became Chapter 1 in “Living from Within.”
My life changed dramatically several years ago when my mom passed. Prior to her transition my life felt like it was on fast forward, I had a thriving business, just published my first book and was being invited to speak to various audiences on the topic of success and motivation. I was living the life I had always dreamed and was able to buy my mom a house and car, something I had always wanted to do since I was a child. The joy I experienced from being able to provide for my mom was priceless. Then in an instance my life change dramatically when my mom suddenly left this earth at the age of 55, it was like the air had been siphoned out of my body. I was confused, angry and afraid. I did not know who I was without my mother’s presence. I withdrew from life – sold my business, stopped creating and isolated myself from the world. After a year of quiet agony in which I questioned everything in my life I discovered that what I had once believed was important no longer was of value to me. For most of my life money, recognition and material possessions are the things that I passionately pursued. None of those things offered me peace when I long to hear my mom’s voice. It no longer mattered what kind of car I drove or how many magazines I appeared in. The superficial life I had been living was very shallow and I realized I just could not live that life anymore. I began to see life from a different perspective. I began to recognize that life does not end with death – although my mother was no longer physically present – she is still alive within me – all I have to do is think about her life or the experiences I shared with her and I know she is still present. I stop seeing myself as a victim because of my mom’s transition. I realize that my mom’s life was really a gift to me that never dies. Truth is we will all transition someday – this life experience is not permanent. What matters most is what we do while we are here.
My Pathway to Enrichment…
My pathway to abundance was filled with periods of profound darkness. My lowest point was when I found myself unable to meet any of my financial obligations and was contemplating suicide. My house went into foreclosure, the car was repossessed and finally I had to file bankruptcy. I was in a place where hope was not present. I realize now how my thinking had led me to that place. I had always feared the things that had occurred to me: bankruptcy, losing my house and car. Although I had started a business and wanted to be successful, my thoughts would always vacillate from faith to fear. I now know that whatever you fear, you attract. The Law of Attraction works all the time. It can work for your good or not. Each of us is responsible for what we attract into our lives. Worrying and doubting only gives power to the things we don’t want to manifest. After I lost all my material possessions I realized that I had to do things differently. I had to break myself out of this life pattern I had created. I could not continue to think and act the same way that had lead me into financial disrepair. I had to act courageously by believing first that I could live abundantly. This is huge because although many people desire to live abundantly – there is this internal belief that it is unattainable. As long as we believe that it is unattainable we will not be able to attract the experience.
I learned during my season of lack that I needed to get new information to move toward abundance. The information that I was operating under had led me to believe in scarcity. In order to move forward and grow I began to read how others were able to amass wealth. There is the assumption by many that you need money to make money. This is not true. We have the ability to attract whatever we need.
As I shifted my focus from what I did not have and focused on appreciating what I did have, I felt rich. As I read inspirational material I was reminding myself that abundance was real. As I began to feel abundance I began to meet others who were on a similar growth path. I noticed that my conversation changed. I started to experience a shift where lack and negativity no longer felt comfortable for me. As a result, many of the people I associated with at the time could not relate to me because when they talked about what they did not have, I was speaking of the things I was believing God for. I could no longer complain about what I did not have or what I was fearing would happen. Immediately my life began to improve with increased peace and joy. Then as my peace and joy were restored, my financial situation started improving, which made way for new ideas and creativity. I was inspired anew with ideas that I would quickly act upon, generating more financial resources for my business. One day during my daily walk – I got the thought in my mind that I would get a million dollar contract. Because of the growth I had experienced I was now wise enough not to doubt or talk myself out of believing in that still small voice that is always there to help guide me to my highest good. I held on to the thought and dream, never sharing it with anyone because I also had learned that you cannot share your dreams and visions with everyone. This is difficult for most of us because we want to share with others what has been shared with us but the reality is, not everyone is healthy enough to share your dream. Eight or nine months passed and I received a call that changed my financial situation completely around. Not only did I get the million dollar contract but it was a million dollars for three consecutive years – making it a total of $3 million.
All relationships offer us an opportunity to learn valuable life lessons. We attract people into our lives to help us grow. We gain greater clarity of who we are in the context of our relationships with others. There are certain people in our lives that energize, inspire and motivate us. These are the relationships we should spend our time cultivating. There are other relationships, often long-standing, that leave us feeling drained and frustrated. These we need to limit our exposure but they too offer us opportunities for growth. These may be family ties or old friends that have become part of the fabric of our lives and as such have a real impact on the energy around us. Who am I becoming because of this relationship is the question we must ask ourselves?
Our most challenging relationships are simply reflections of areas in our lives that require healing. What irritates us about others simply represent an area that we need healing. Some lessons we embrace others we resist but the truth is everyone we invite into our lives will teach us something. There is an old adage that says “No man is your enemy, no man is your friend, every man is your teacher.” If a person has a quality or characteristic that irritates us it is because that trait is a mirror of something we don’t like about ourselves. We speak often of people pushing our buttons but the truth is if there were not a connection to what they said or did there would be no reaction.
There are times in our lives when change is not an option – it is reality. During these times we must remind ourselves that life never gives us more than we can handle. Even when we are faced with a crisis – we are being made wiser if we follow the leading of our heart during those times. Actually, crisis is often the point of entry to change. It is in crisis that we relinquish control and reasoning as we focus on an escape or pathway out. It is through our greatest life traumas that we come to know how resiliently powerful we are. In crisis we become freed from the limitations we place on ourselves as we focus on a way out. Change places us on the pathway to greater awareness.
Everything must change – nothing stays the same says the song. Life is ever changing. Change is good. The heartbeat of life and living is movement and flow. We resist life when we try to avoid change. Change is natural. Change is never really a tragedy when we embrace it. A tragedy suggests something horrific – too overwhelming. When we are still we know that change is merely a transition and not a tragedy. When things appear to be falling apart what is really happening is that we are being shaken out of our delusion. The delusion of who we thought we were. It is difficult to maintain our façade in times of crisis. We lose our hold on the things that we struggle to keep. It is in crisis that we discover anew who we are. Our strength and power is revealed to us in crisis. Truth is when it appears as though our lives are falling apart, our lives are really coming together.