You just lost your job. Congratulations! That’s right, congratulations. I must be crazy to say that, right? Do I know what that means, how you must be feeling? Yes. Whether you loved or hated your job, it provided you (and your family) with the income necessary to live your lives. Your feelings probably vacillate between anger and sadness and include everything from humiliation to terror and back again. There’s shock as you try to comprehend what happened and a sense of surrealness as the rest of world goes on as normal while a significant and important part of yours just imploded. Your thoughts, are they racing a million miles per minute? Maybe you can’t sleep, can’t eat, or are eating too much. Perhaps you break down in tears or indulge in angry revenge scenario fantasies. You’re obsessed with what you could have done differently. Perhaps you feel nothing at all. You’re numb. In shock. It’s like a nightmare that you can’t wake up from. How could anyone offer congratulations for an unplanned and unwanted job loss? Simple. Because it’s an opportunity.
You see, as bad as losing a job is, and as hard as it may be to believe, there is a silver lining IF you choose to see it that way. Your job loss has actually presented you with an opportunity. “An opportunity to do what?” EXACTLY! Whatever you want! It’s an opportunity for a new and better job, to switch careers, pursue a forgotten dream. Now that you have lost your job, there is less to lose and tremendous potential upside if you succeed in taking advantage of your opportunity.
Many of us have dreams that we’ll achieve “someday.” Dreams we swear we’ll pursue, that we’ll get serious about when there’s just a little more time, or we save a certain amount of money, or whatever the thing is we must achieve before we actively move towards that dream. But the truth is many of us will never take a chance as long as we have the safety net of our current job. The income and supposed security keeps us immobilized and complacent. We begin to think this is how life is supposed to be. Only the lucky few truly love their work. To follow a dream feels like too much risk. But what would happen if you actually succeeded in achieving your dream? Well, you now have an opportunity to find out. Why not go for it? That doesn’t mean throwing everything to the wind. As you move forward from your job loss, there are some things that you can do to pave the way for your future success…which may just include a dream job. Consider the following:
Take Some Time…
The days following a job loss ARE surreal. You’re in disbelief and probably in no state to make career decisions. Take some time to breathe. Don’t do anything. Don’t rush out to find another job (unless of course you already have something amazing lined up. And if that is the case, you already know that losing your current job was a great thing). Just take some time. Think. Relax. Pray. Dream. Meditate. Just be. No pressure. Just be. What to think about? How about what makes you happy? If you haven’t been happy, what would make you happy? If you have been happy, how can you continue to maintain happiness? Hopefully, life outside of work is awesome. That’s something tremendous to focus on as you shift gears with your employment. Did your job really contribute to your happiness? If so, great, then try to find one like it. If not, what would you rather be doing and how do you get from here to there? Will it mean additional education or training? A pay cut? What? What are you willing to do to make your dream job come true?
Practice Looking Forward
Focusing on the job that you just lost is not hard to do. There are a lot of feelings surrounding the loss. Even if the job loss was not your fault you can feel like a failure. It would be terribly easy to turn that negativity inward. Feelings of inadequacy could prevail if you’re not careful. On the flip side losing a job can be incredibly freeing, especially if you were in an awful workplace situation. With some distance you may find that you gain back parts of yourself that you hadn’t realized were missing. You may realize that the job was bringing out the worst parts of your personality. Your confidence increases. Your feeling of self-worth increases.
Bad work situations can beat you down to the point where you believe you can do no right and didn’t deserve the job in the first place. Know it’s not true and it’s not you. Anytime you want to think or talk trash about your former employer, don’t. Even in the first few days. Don’t. That is in the past. Don’t dwell on them. Don’t give them any more of your energy. Actively push the thoughts away and focus on looking forward, as that’s where your future lies. Don’t let the past cast a shadow on your future. Your future can be bright.
Dream But Be Practical
Credit: Melody Campbell: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28451398@N02/2656648036Dreaming while being practical is a balancing act. To dream is a wonderful way of identifying your heart’s desire. Don’t add unnecessary constraints to the process by worrying about the specifics of how the dream will materialize. Don’t focus on obstacles that can get in your way. Concentrate instead on what it will feel like when you achieve your dream. If you can taste it, you’re on the right track.
The practical side needs to figure out how you will support yourself while pursuing your dream. Do you have a rainy day fund? How long will it last? If you have a partner who is working, can your partner provide the income needed? Can your partner be supportive? What can you cut back on to reduce expenses? Did you file for unemployment benefits? Many people are so worried about the financial impact of their job loss that they won't allow themselves the opportunity to dream and think about the possibilities. Dreaming and then acting on that dream takes courage and faith. More precisely, it’s the courage to take a leap of faith.
Go For It
Credit: h.koppdelaney: http://www.flickr.com/photos/16230215@N08/3316550063/We have one life to live on this beautiful blue marble. If we’re lucky we have work that we truly enjoy. But the truth is luck is only part of it. Preparing for success by taking action helps turn luck into certainty. But we have to figure out what it is we want and be brave enough to go for it, even when there is no guarantee of success. Sure there may be set-backs such a reduction in income which is hopefully temporary, but is the price for a happier work life and fulfilling a dream worth it? We spend more hours at work than we do at just about anything else. It would be great if we enjoyed it. Strike that. It would be great if we LOVED it. So yes, losing a job is a horrible experience, but it should also be looked upon as an opportunity. After all, it’s better than the alternative.