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When you first get laid off, your instinct is undoubtedly to dive right into the job search. Maybe you'll give yourself a couple of days to deal with the transition to a largely unstructured lifestyle. More likely, though, you'll dive headfirst into the job search so your life can return to what feels normal as soon as possible.


But, is that really the best thing for you? Is that really the best thing for your family? Take a few days to really think about where you've been and where you want to go.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself after being laid off:

1. Did I Love My Job?

Man thinks about being laid off from his job

Be honest. If you truly loved your job, there's nothing wrong with diving head first into the job search and trying to find a replacement that is as close a match to what you used to do as possible. But if your gut instinct wasn't "Yes!" it's okay to put off the job search for a little while and get clear on where you want your career to go.

If you did truly love your job, is there any way you can start your own company? Many states have programs in place for entrepreneurs who have been laid off. Oregon, for example, allows you to collect unemployment for six months and focus on getting your business off the ground instead of searching for a new job.

2. If I Could Do Anything, What Would It Be?

Woman asks herself questions after being laid off

Your instinct is going to tell you to be practical. Right now you need a job—any job—to keep yourself afloat. There's merit to this plan, but that doesn't mean you can't let yourself dream.

You spend most of your waking hours at a job—shouldn't you love what you do? What have you always loved and wanted to do with your time? Is there a way to make money at it?

For example, if you've always loved art and design, now's a great time to give up the accounting ghost and start your own freelance graphic design business—something you can do part-time and around any replacement jobs you need to get to keep your lights on while you get your new business off the ground.

3. Can I Afford To Go Back To School?

For many of us, our dream jobs and what we are trained to do professionally aren't exactly the same thing. This means that if we are going to take the leap and pursue the dream, we're going to need to go back to school.

Here's the good news: going back to school (or going to college for the first time) is easier than it has ever been. Many universities have programs in place for non-traditional students, or students who are returning for new degrees. You can also go to school online in your free time, which will allow you to give in to your practical survival urge to take any job you can get (and make whatever job you do get more palatable because you'll know it's only temporary).

For example, if you've always wanted to work in the medical field, you can go to ultrasound technician school online while working during the day. If you've always wanted to work in the world of graphic design, you can take online tutorials at night without necessarily having to giving up your day job (though sometimes you really have to take the leap and immerse yourself in a new field!)

You'll be able to pay your bills and work toward your dream career at the same time.

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This post was originally published at an earlier date.