Job loss is painful. The emotional, financial and professional hurt can range from difficult to devastating. The feelings of shame, humiliation, failure, isolation, financial insecurity and self-pity that come with losing a job can lead to dark days and, ultimately, depression. How can we avoid the darkness and find a way out?
For many who've lost their jobs it is very difficult to accept and understand this predicament. You worked hard, played by the rules and moved up the ladder. Often without warning your prestige and your paycheck have been unfairly snatched away. You've been part of a team for years and now you are an army of one waging war on unemployment. Like many of us, you've probably made the mistake of defining yourself by where you work or your title. Make the choice to not let unemployment define you.
It's not personal
It is very easy to take job loss personally. Don't. Whether you were downsized, restructured, fired, laid off or made redundant you need to concentrate on moving forward, not looking back. Focusing on what went wrong only leads down the wrong path. There are plenty of shoulda, coulda, wouldas and you can spend all your time playing that game, but the road to the next phase in your career doesn't involve moving backward.
Yes, process your feelings and work to accept what has happened, but refuse to stay stuck in the negative. Let it go. You have a big challenge ahead and you will need all your energy to tackle it. Acceptance is challenging work and some days will be much harder than others. Don't hesitate to ask for help and seek professional assistance if you are really struggling.
What will propel you into your new future? What will fight the self-doubt, self-pity and self-absorption? What will help you avoid depression? ACTION. Make action a daily habit and you will build momentum. That momentum will carry you forward through tough days, uncertain times and into your next job.
Here are a few actions you can employ on your road to employment. Take it one day at a time and use your time wisely.
Stay positive. Easy to say, harder to do. Your attitude is critical to job search success. Avoid negative people, places and things for they will all drag you down. Make it a daily choice to be positive and it will become a habit. And it is perfectly fine to fake it until you make it. A great attitude will guide you through the bumpy road ahead.
Network. Call, email and reach out to everyone you know. Your contacts are one of your biggest assets. Don't be afraid to tell people you are looking for the next step in your career. Remember to be politely persistent and understand that not everyone will make time for you. Lunch, coffee, breakfast, drinks. Meet with everyone you can and branch out to new people. Networking will broaden your contact base, keep you in the loop and prevent you from being isolated.
Exercise. You've got a little extra time. Use it to focus on a better you. The sense of well-being that comes from a little sweat and exertion will do wonders for your confidence. Whether you walk 10,000 steps a day or run 40 miles a week, get going! Fitness will help you eat, sleep and focus better. Apps like Moves or Human will help you track your daily movement. A Fuelband, Jawbone Up or a Fitbit are all great wearable tech to keep you moving and motivated.
Get out of the house. Sitting around the house only reinforces the isolation that comes with unemployment. Try to maintain a 9-5 schedule, Get up at your usual time, get dressed and get moving. Maybe you don't need to wear a suit and tie everyday, but dress in business casual. Apply a daily schedule to your job search. Find a local coffee shop or co-working space where you can conduct your business. All you really need is wi-fi, an outlet, coffee and a place to sit.
Volunteer. Whether you work in a soup kitchen, give blood, help the elderly or donate time to an organization of your choice, the act of volunteering will get you out of your own head. There are countless opportunities to give your time, experience and compassion to others. By helping them, you will help yourself. Plus, you will likely gain a new perspective on how fortunate you really are.
Learn. There are limitless possibilities to add to your skill set. Take advantage of online courses, meetups, conferences, webinars and more. Make a point of keeping current on your business and learning something new every day. Flexing your mental muscles and constantly honing your skills make you more valuable to your next employer.
Part time or project work. Some are afraid that taking temporary work will hurt their search. Unless it just doesn't make financial sense, part-time or freelance work will give you a purpose and a place to go. You will be part of a team and meet new people. Don't worry, you will find time to keep the job hunt alive.
Enjoy yourself. This is easy to forget while you are on the hunt for work. You deserve downtime and good times as much as anyone. Take a little time every day to relax, let the stress go and be grateful for what you've got. Your life didn't stop: it just took a detour. Remember to recharge with family and friends. Live your life!
Unemployment is one of the toughest jobs out there. The pay stinks and the benefits are lousy. It's a long, hard road with no rest stops and sometimes no end in sight. A recent GapingVoid cartoon put it perfectly. Happiness is 4,000,000 miles away while Misery is only 3 feet. We can choose to take action and move forward a little bit closer to happiness every day. It takes faith and perseverance. It won't be easy, but the opportunities for reinvention are endless and there are real rewards for using your time wisely.
What daily actions do you employ on your road to employment?