I Lost My Job Today
I lost my job today, now what?
Pick up almost any newspaper today, and you're bound to see a story about layoffs. If you' re one of the unlucky ones ( or if a family member is), you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed, disoriented, or just plain scared.
Losing a job is considered one of the five most stressful life changes you can experience. Those who have been there say it feels like being robbed of your identity and is as painful as the loss of a loved one. The anxiety that results can shake up your life. It's normal to feel panicky about finances, nervous about the job search process, or lonely for your old community of coworkers. And many downsized employees are left wondering what they could have done to prevent being let go (even when it clearly wasn't their fault). Whether you were expecting the cut or were shocked by the news, these emotions can leave you feeling paralyzed and unsure of what to do next.
During this time your family members may be dealing with their own fears and sense of loss, adding to the pressure at home. For example, your spouse may insist on keeping close tabs on your job search process. Or your children, feeling the tension, may start behaving badly at school.
If I lost my job today, the first stage of loss is denial and numbness. In this stage you may shut down and feel unmotivated. Denial is one of the mind's ways of protecting you, but getting stuck in this stage can present additional problems. One woman I know received notice that her job would be eliminated in six months. But she never bothered to prepare a resume or begin networking until the week before she was to leave. Stuck in denial, she believed that something miraculous would happen to prevent the inevitable.
If I lost my job today, soon the next stage brings mixed emotion: anger, confusion, sadness, and fear. During this phase you may vacillate between extremes. When my friend Samantha lost her job unexpectedly, she went from screaming in traffic one minute to shaking and sobbing the next. Your feeling of anger or sadness may last minutes, clays, or weeks. The more you express them in healthy ways-working out your anger at the gym, for instance, or sharing your feeling with a trusted friend-the quicker they will pass.
The final stage of loss is acceptance, which most people come to slowly. This is the stage when you begin to come to terms with what's happened. Reaching a place of acceptance doesn't have to mean you agree with the company's action-just that you've decided to move on with your life.
There is no right or wrong way to experience the stages of loss. Most people move in and out of them over time. For example, you may start sleeping more (or less), eating more (or less), and you may even find yourself remembering other losses. These reactions are normal. They can also serve as a reminder to treat yourself with compassion.
It may be hard to believe at first, but you can ultimately use this experience to your advantage- to find another, perhaps even better job; to strengthen your relationship with your family; and to make some much- needed changes in your life. Here are three essential steps:
If I lost my job today, Step 1
Get emotional support.
Because it's easy to feel unsettled and vulnerable, reaching out to others is the key to making a smooth transition. You'll need people who will listen and provide a safe haven for you to vent, cry, or express your tears and concerns. You can lean on a trusted friend, a fellow coworker in the same situation, or a sibling. In addition, you might want to join an online discussion group (see step 2 below) or a career support group at your church or community center. Your local unemployment offices can provide affordable resources near you.
Have this support in place before you take steps to secure your next position. Too often people bring their anger or bitterness into a job interview only to lose the opportunity and feel even more defeated.
Remember, your spouse and children will be dealing with their own anxiety about your job loss and may not be able to offer you the kind of support you need. You should also avoid turning to people who add to your stress level or criticize you. Instead, surround yourself with those who can make you feel hopeful and confident about this transition.
Don't go it alone. It takes courage to ask to help, and yet, help may be what you need most to move forward.
You also need to protect your emotional well-being. If you are required to continue working until a specific deadline, avoid long work hours and get out of the office at lunchtime. Stay away from toxic coworkers who constantly complain. Build confidence by doing something you enjoy and do well. One woman I know, an amateur photographer, made note cards using her favorite photos. The positive feedback she received from friends and colleagues gave her renewed confidence.
If I lost my job today, Step 2
Seek professional guidance.
Getting assistance from a recruiter or career counselor will not only help you assess your experience and improve your skills it also will ensure that you put your best foot forward. Once again, your local unemployment office should have helpful resource.
Check out the career section of your local bookstore. One of my favorite books is What Color is Your Parachute? 2001 by Richard Nelson Bolls. There are great online resource as well. Monster. com offers useful career advice, online success stories, and a variety of message boards- not to mention a large database of open job listings.
If possible, try not to let fear cause you to grab the first new job you’re offered (unless it's the right one! ). Give yourself time to explore different options. And don't be afraid to look for a short-term "transition position" that will pay the bills while you continue your search.
If I lost my job today, Step 3
Strengthen family ties.
Meet with family members to openly discuss your feelings. Listen carefully without interrupting one another, and give everyone a turn to speak.
Once you've landed a new job, create your own security. Keep your resume up-to-date, stay in touch with recruiters about the job market, and constantly improve yours skills to stay marketable in your field. Although being downsized can turn your life upside down, many people say that it gave them the push they needed to start a new life!
If I lost my job today or next time, follow the above steps. Everything will be fine soon.
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