More of us will have lost at least one job over our lifetime due to getting fired, downsized, laid off or replaced in some fashion than ever before. When it happens then, (rather than ‘If’ it happens) you might actually find some positive in the process if you look hard enough.
Now when it first happens it can be pretty raw and painful; like ripping off a band-aid and lots of hairs with it. Did you ever stop to think why we find losing a job so stressful in the first place? It’s more than just the loss of immediate income in order to pay rent and mortgages, although that alone is pretty daunting. It’s the loss of approval, our self-image, the ‘role’ we play as provider for our families, the purpose we have in our lives, the shame perhaps of having to tell our parents, siblings, spouses and children, friends and neighbours. In other words, it’s part of our identity.
On the other hand, losing a job can sometimes allow us to move in other directions, take chances, start self-employment, take some needed mental and physical time off; in short do things that otherwise we would not have had the courage or resolve to do because of the income and job we had. Losing a job can actually be liberating. If you hated the commute, the fight for parking, or the drudgery of working with people you had nothing in common with, or were bullied by a co-worker, you might feel relieved when you realize that they no longer have you to manipulate in the workplace.
So with an open calendar and endless possibilities, you may feel overwhelmed at where to start. If you were forward-thinking, you kept your resume up-to-date, and if not, now is a good time to get down to it and get it ready for quick editing when you see the job you really want to apply to. Now for some folks, the time required to lament the loss of the job is longer than others, and everybody would probably agree that at least a short time should be spent mentally thinking about what just happened. If you were fired, then you really should stop and ask yourself what led to that decision. Saying, “The boss was an idiot” isn’t really all that helpful, and unless you look at things with an objective eye, you might be in danger of repeating any mistakes in behaviour you may have made again in the future.
Even when you are laid-off from a job that would on the surface appear to be entirely beyond your control, it’s important to think about the situation and what led the company to make the decision it did. Could you have done anything to alter the decision to lay you off such as better performance, more return for the employer, a higher or lower profile? If you saw it coming for months and months prior to being given your actual notice of dismissal, could or should you have started networking more and applying for jobs earlier? If you signed up on the Titanic, and you knew there was an iceberg directly in your path, you’d be foolish to just sit on the deck chair and wait for the collision. So much better to change direction before the impact if possible.
If you talk to some people who have lost jobs in the past, they may be willing now to share with you how it felt at the time, what steps they took to turn things around, and the new opportunities that presented themselves once the old job was gone. Those same people may also tell you that they may not have made a decision to leave on their own, but because someone else fired them, they had the push they needed to change directions, investigate new careers, and have since landed in jobs in which they are entirely satisfied. In fact, the loss of a job can make you more appreciative of a new one, a little less judgemental of others who are unemployed, and more compassionate when dealing with people in general. While no one would really wish unemployment on another, it can be very humbling and transformative.
Have you yourself ever lost a job? What was your experience like? Are you in a position now to share that experience so that others can gain hope from your trials and move forward?
By Kelly Mitchell
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