When you’re immersed in your work, you rarely think about how much it defines your identity. However, losing a job even one you don’t love, can cue an acute crisis of confidence in who you are and what you’re ‘worth.’
Being laid off is a tough trigger for career change. No matter how you feel about your job, the shock of losing it can unleash a debilitating blast of anger, hurt and confusion.
Here are five ways to get to grips with the emotional aftermath of losing your job.
1. Take time to sort out your feelings
Step out of the feeling storm and create a quiet mental moment. You’ll be much less likely to fall prey to brain imploding moments where you say or do self-sabotaging things you soon regret.
Try, one of these five strategies to stop a negative thought train before it derails you.
Understanding your emotions frees you to accept and manage them. This is a huge step towards healing the hurt of being laid off.
I also recommend the less cerebral strategy of blowing off steam. Do your preferred pressure-releasing thing and do it often. I swim and hike and bake. Some of my clients recommend boxing or running or screaming into a pillow.
2. Connect to someone who ‘gets’ it
That would be someone who has a similar battle scar. Someone who get’s how you feel but can also straighten out your perspective and normalise your feelings without diminishing them. Someone who can help you rekindle your focus and energy to go after whatever’s next. Someone with genuine empathy whose responses never include, ‘at least….’, ‘oh that sucks’, ‘bad luck mate’ or ‘how aaaaare you?’
3. Purge the past
It’s completely human to want to hide out and lick wounds, sulk, fume or plot your ex employer’s pain filled demise. So allocate a day or at max a weekend to do this and give it everything you’ve got. Write grumpy or gracious letters you’ll never send to colleagues and clients. Make lists of things you loved and hated about the role and the company. Grieve for what you miss about the work, the people, and the sense of ‘who you were’ in that job.
But when ‘times up’ emerge with the clear intention of moving on.
4. Capitalise on being out of your comfort zone
Losing your job has already pitched you out of your comfort zone so take advantage of being in unknown territory. Aside from the cathartic clear out described above; resist the urge to withdraw into real time or virtual hidey-holes. Instead get out and try new things.
These don’t have to be directly career related. Maybe there’s an exercise or language class you’ve long been curious about or a series of talks on an absorbing topic you’ve never had the time to pursue. It might be a simple as going off your beaten track to a new café or cinema. Every new thing we try reveals something about our abilities and our interests. While these out of comfort zone excursions may not lead to your next role they might spark your interest or connect you to new people and possibilities.
If your tolerance for time outside your comfort zone is low, try these endurance builders.
5. Review your personal best
Even when your job loss has zero to do with your skills or abilities, it’s hard not to feel personally rejected. Counter any sinking feeling that there must be something intrinsically wrong with you by checking the evidence to the contrary.
Start by listing all the great things you’ve done throughout your career. That’s your ‘what’ list of achievements. Now add your ‘why’ to each of them. Ask yourself, ‘Why did this matter?', ‘What difference did it make?' and ‘What did I learn about myself as a result?’.
For example, a client listed introducing disengaged school leavers to a web based program that was challenging and fun and made them responsible for their progress. This project helped hundreds of able, alienated kids succeed in and out of school. It met my client’s ’ need to champion equity and social justice and taught her heaps about using new technologies to improve teaching and learning.
This list does three things. Firstly it provides incontrovertible proof that you’re not ‘rubbish at everything’. Secondly, it highlights where you excel - your strengths and skills. Thirdly, it illustrates your values in practice by pinpointing what really matters and how this motivates you.
This is great ’intell’ to help you find your feet and point them in the direction of your next achievement filled career.
Feeling rung out over your career change? I can help.
By Jo Green, Career Change Coach
I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead! I can help you explore what meaningful work is for you. I’ll work with you to lessen the stress of changing careers.
Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.