Adjusting to Job Loss
by OI Global Partners – Abentigro
Downsizing, rightsizing, layoff, termination, reorganization, and restructuring – these are just a few examples of some of the phrases used to describe job loss. Often, this loss is devastating because it takes away the security of a regular paycheck, the structure of a consistent work environment, the camaraderie of co-workers, as well as the intellectual challenge and comfort of having an external entity determine the priorities and tasks of the day.
Whether one lives to work, or works to live, a significant part of a person’s identity comes from his or her job … and its loss can be debilitating.
In Part 2 of Adjusting to Job Loss we will look further at where you are and the steps you may go through to begin processing and healing in order to bring your self out in a better place.
Where are you?
Most people describe the transition process as a roller-coaster ride because of the wide range of emotions they experience as a result of job loss. Often, the news is unexpected, triggering feelings that life has suddenly spun out of control, causing profound feelings of sadness as well as a loss of self-worth and purpose. Consider the following questions as you explore your feelings, determine what you need to do, and decide what resources can help you along the way.
How would you describe your current emotions? Each person reacts differently to job loss. In general, most people experience emotions that run the entire gamut from highs to lows before leveling off as new opportunities begin to emerge. Some people actually experience a sense of relief from the pressures of the job, or from “finally being told” that the job is over.
What can you do right now? A positive first step is to begin to think about actions you can take to feel more productive. For example, structure your day. Decide how much time you will spend in search-related activities, refreshing your skill sets or taking time for family and self. You do have choices after job loss. Those who take the step to move forward will experience curiosity and even excitement as they begin to discover what the world has in store.
Who can help and what resources do you need? Reconnecting with people whom you have known professionally, defining your unique accomplishments, or even volunteering can get you started. It may seem difficult in the beginning, but taking that first step will result in a renewed sense of control and greater energy.
Know the three stages of transition.
Author William Bridges discusses the three stages of transition in his book, Transitions. The three stages are: an ending, followed by a neutral zone, culminating in a new beginning. Each stage is accompanied by its own emotional reactions.
ENDING – Disengagement, Disidentification, Disenchantment, Disorientation
- Characteristics of this stage: Loss of control, meaning, turf, attachments, structure and future.
- Reactions: May include denial, anger, shock and resistance.
- Goal of this stage: Let go.
NEUTRAL ZONE – Feeling Lost, Confusion, Second Thoughts, Distress
- Characteristics of this stage: Resistance to change and the unknown as well as some recognition of the need to explore new opportunities.
- Reactions: May include fear, anger, confusion, avoidance, impatience, skepticism, but also creativity, acceptance and hope.
- Goals of this stage: Manage fear and begin to explore future possibilities.
NEW BEGINNINGS – Commitment, Energy, New Visions, Restored Motivation
- Characteristics of this stage: Commitment to the process and ready for action.
- Reactions: May include increased energy, anxiety and enthusiasm.
- Goals of this stage: Renewed sense of belonging and optimism for the future.
Consider these questions.
- What are the biggest challenges in the search process for you and why?
- In what transition stage do you see yourself?
- What reactions are you experiencing right now?
- Have you ever moved to a different home, city or state; managed a new project; changed jobs; accepted a promotion?
- How did you successfully adjust to these changes?
- What realistic steps can you take to adjust to your job loss and your career transition?
- What have you done recently to energize yourself and release stress?
- What would you like to do if you could have your dream job? What makes a job “fun” instead of “work” for you?
You are the key.
There is no better resource than you to understand and identify where you want to go and what you want to do. The degree of commitment that you dedicate toward reaching your career goal is what will assure a successful transition.
Job loss affects the people close to you as much as it does you. If you are married, in a partnership, or have dependent children, dealing openly with your loved ones about the impact of your job loss will help minimize family stress. What follows are key ingredients in assisting your family through the transition process.
Support your partner. The very person or persons you depend on for support can become overwhelmed or fearful. It is important to validate their feelings. Provide encouragement and allow them to express their feelings, instead of only listening to how you are feeling. Emotional support comes from the genuine sharing of feelings, emotions, fears and other concerns. It is important to create this mutual trust and shared emotional support, particularly in times of change and uncertainty.
If possible, find a friend to confide in so that you don’t burden your family with the whole weight of your worries.
Schedule weekly “fun time” that is playful and relaxing, and not focused on anything negative, particularly the job loss. Be sure to get input from your partner and/or immediate family members about activities that would be most enjoyable.
Work with your partner, a trusted friend or advisor to calculate your exact financial position, including your minimum monthly expenses. Prepare an emergency budget and financial plan. Postpone any expenditure that is not absolutely necessary.
If you have children … do not hide your job loss from your children. Even young children are very sensitive to changes in the emotional climate within the family. If you do not explain the reason for added tension, they may become more anxious than if you calmly let them know what has happened and what you plan to do to find a new career opportunity.
Reassure children that there will be enough money to meet basic expenses. Some children, especially teenagers, may be disturbed about financial cutbacks. Explain what “extras” will have to be eliminated for the moment. When possible, involve them in brainstorming ideas to help save money.
Some families have found that the period of unemployment has an overall positive effect on quality of life in the family. In the face of limited resources, families often decide to spend “quality time” in non-commercial activities. Nature walks in a nearby park or forest can promote as much family togetherness as a pricey trip to a ski resort. Whatever you decide to do together, be sure to schedule regular “family time” to provide support and a sense of stability to your family.
- How is your family dealing with your job loss?
- What are some ways that you can improve your family’s ability to support each other during this time?
Adjusting to Job Loss: Part 3 coming May 5, 2021