The times we live in will not be known for job security, no matter how good we are. Learning to embrace and dance with change will allow us to create a life of accomplishment and exhileration no matter the circumstances. This Power Byte is devoted to examining the impact of job loss on even the toughest of us.
If you are dealing with the loss of a job, whether chosen or inflicted, before moving on to your next exciting chapter (and trust me it can be a brilliant chapter), it's essential to stop and think about what has happened and get yourself complete. I mean get to the point where you:
- squeezed all the juice out of your loss
- allowed yourself to feel the pain if there was pain
- learned what you could learn
- acknowledged what worked and what didn't
- are fine with everything
- can see the gift in what happened
- are not playing the victim
- have taken responsibility for yourself
- can acknowledge what's unique and special about you
- are not only ready to move on, but
- excited about the future
This may take a while. You must be honest and confront that you have just lost your job, the way you have been making your living. Your self-esteem and your very identity may have been connected to the job. It may have been a really, really big deal to you and to your family. It has been a dominant part of every facet of your life. What are you to do? Where are you to go each day? You may be feeling angry, depressed, confused, guilty, hurt, worried or downright scared.
People who are trying to help say things like, "It's only a job. You can find a better job - a better place to work. It could be worse. You still have your health. Pull yourself together and count your blessings." That makes sense and you think you "should" feel fine. But you don't. Why not? After all, this isn't like losing a loved one, right?
WRONG. IT'S EXACTLY LIKE A LOVED ONE HAS DIED. Not realizing and admitting it can cause problems for you in the future. The job has been a dominant part of every facet of your life, every day, good or bad. You may even have spent more time with your job than with loved ones.
DON'T SKIP THE PAIN. It's appropriate to suffer pain. You have experienced loss. Give yourself permission to grieve.
I worked for a small training company in Rochester, NY for over eleven years. I had moved to Rochester from Toronto for that job. My years with Vitalwork were the most powerful growth years of my career at that point. The people I worked with were like family to me. We shared work and personal challenges, and celebrated successes together. My career goals were linked to Vitalwork. We had had our annual Christmas party in my home before Christmas break. The day before returning to work the owner came to my house to tell me that he was going to have to let me go because of finances - rather because of "lack" of finances. Half of us were let go that day.
I WAS CRUSHED. THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. WE WERE A TEAM. I THOUGHT I WAS AN IMPORTANT (ESSENTIAL) PART OF THAT TEAM AND THEY WERE AN IMPORTANT PART OF MY LIFE. ETC. ETC. ETC.
Jobs provide us with more than employment. For so many it's an identity, a place to use our skills and talents and watch them grow over time. When we lose our jobs, our lives change radically. The habitual, seemingly unimportant day-to-day rituals and things we did are no longer there.
When I lost my job I was sad, then angry and confused. For a while the grief was overwhelming. I experienced a few days of full-blown victimization. While I knew that there must be a gift in this too, there were moments when I was suddenly in victim-thinking - like in the middle of a happy moment, I would find it there. Why this? Why now? Why me? Even though I believe that there are no accidents and things happen for a reason, I suffered. I was grieving.
Now, eight years after that shocking loss, I can look back and see exactly why that event was a gift to propel me to my next great adventure. Thinks have worked out beautifully. The same will happen for you if you are willing to suffer the pain that is there to be suffered, and do the work that will allow you to put the past in the past where it belongs before moving on.
It's interesting that those who wanted to leave their jobs anyway who are fired or laid off - grieve. And even those who choose to leave a job themselves because they no longer want to be doing that job, may grieve.
Whatever your story, you may want to jump right into finding a job and not take time to complete before creating.
You may have to find a job quickly due to your financial responsibilities.
Take as much time as you possibly can to get complete on the job that "was" - to regroup - and to strategically "invent" the next chapter in your life. The choices you make now will "be" your next chapter. You want to make it a great one. You deserve it.
If you seriously can't afford any time, take a temporary job. Just don't sign-up for that next chapter.
Allow yourself to experience the grief that comes with loss. Do what it takes to learn all you can from the opportunity that just ended. Then, and only then, will it be time to strategically invest the next great adventure of your life.
"Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how." ~ James Russell Lowell