I laughed out loud when I told a client that I had been laid off five times and that it was the best training for human resources that I ever received. He was aghast that it was five times, I suppose. These days, being laid off is part of the career journey. You’d be hard pressed to find a professional who has not experienced at least one layoff. What’s the big deal anyway?
Change that is forced upon you is HARD. Take any sudden illness, death, tragedy or loss of a job, and we humans go into a tailspin. It is a normal reaction and, if you keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the other, you can eventually create your new “normal;” and, sometimes be better for it.
So, how can you thrive when you’ve been laid off? Here are five time-tested ways to recover and move full steam ahead.
Don’t Take the Layoff Personally
This is the hardest step and is not a one-time action. It may take weeks, months and even years to overcome feelings of rejection, anger, and shame. But, I beg you to work through those feelings! Don’t ignore them because they do not go away. Any competent interviewer will sniff out your anger or resentment toward your former employer. And, they won’t think twice by telling you “thanks but no thanks.”
The truth is you have very little control over what an organization does. Many companies think of their employees as chess pieces and move them about with little regret or concern. Even if you are in a fabulous company with the best culture ever, they can still make a quick decision in divesting you of your duties. It is a reality and developing a healthy self-awareness and a resilience to the ups and downs of life is the best job skills around. Get over it. Move on.
If you need help, talk it out with a trusted friend, counselor, or career coach. Or read “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. His wisdom may open your eyes.
Surround Yourself with Support
This should be your mantra during your transition to a new job. Find those people who lift you up and know what kind of a person you are. You will need their support, encouragement, and friendship as you heal and begin to find your next career chapter.
Schedule weekly coffee meetings. Ask a friend to go with you to a networking event. Hire a career coach. Make conscious choices to have external resources be there for you. You need them and you can return the favor someday.
One of the best exercises I have my clients do is their “Journey Line.” Graph out the jobs you have had on the X-axis (time) and use the Y-axis as your “engagement/joy” gauge from -10 to zero to +10. Jobs you loved would be a +9 or +10 and jobs you couldn’t tolerate rate negatively. Be sure to mark this layoff, too, as the negative event it is.
Now, step back from the paper/whiteboard/computer and look at your journey since began working. What have been the highs; the lows? What characteristics made them such? Talk through your Journey Line with your support team and ask for their observations. What have you missed that they see?
Collect these insights about what engages (or disengages) you by creating “Must Have/Nice to Have/NO WAY” lists to guide your job search efforts. This “bigger picture” view helps you realize that this layoff is just an end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one.
Eagle-Vision vs. Mouse-Vision
A bigger-picture view is a powerful “self-coaching” tool. I teach my clients this by using the metaphors of “eagle-vision” versus “mouse-vision.” I have noticed that if I get frustrated or stuck with some decision or with a job search, for example, I am most likely super focused on one detail (mouse-vision). That may be fine for a bit, but to break out of that “stuckness,” all I have to do is shift my mindset to a bigger picture view (eagle-vision). Something always pops for me by seeing this moment in time as a part of a much bigger life. I relax a bit and can then move ahead. Give it a try.
During this time of transition, get your hind end out into the community. Uplevel your exercise routine so you are improving your health, giving back to your physical body. Then, give back to a community effort that brings you joy. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity for a day a month. Work at the local food bank one afternoon a week. Deliver for Meals on Wheels one shift here or there.
This tip worked so well for me after a job loss, that volunteering is now part of my life. My joy is to help unwanted and abandoned animals. So, I volunteer at Circle L Ranch & Animal Sanctuary here in AZ where there are over 100 horses, goats, pigs, dogs, chickens, etc. who live out their lives surrounded by people who dote on them. And part of my career coaching profits goes to the sanctuary, too. It is a huge win-win.
Uncover what invigorates you. Giving back to others will keep your mind and heart energized and open to new people and perspectives. Plus, any bouts of the usual dark days after a job loss will be minimized.
CALL TO ACTION: Are you feeling stuck with your job situation? Let’s brainstorm strategies to excite you about your career again. Slot a complimentary 30-min consult here: Schedule Free Consult.
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