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Dealing with job loss

It’s normal to feel hurt, vulnerable, or angry after losing a job. The good news is that despite the stress of job loss and unemployment, there are many things you can do to take control of the situation and maintain your spirits.

You can get through this tough time by taking care of yourself, reaching out to others, and focusing on your goals. Losing your job can also be an opportunity to take stock of your life, rethink your career goals, and rediscover what truly makes you happy.

Our jobs are much more than just the way we make a living. They influence how we see ourselves, as well as the way others see us. Our jobs give us structure, purpose, and meaning. That’s why job loss and unemployment is one of the most stressful things you can experience.

Beyond the loss of income, losing a job also comes with other major losses, some of which may be even more difficult to face:

* Loss of your professional identity

* Loss of self-esteem and self-confidence

* Loss of your daily routine

* Loss of purposeful activity

* Loss of your work-based social network

* Loss of your sense of security

* Grief is a natural response to loss, and that includes the loss of a job. Losing your job takes forces you to make rapid changes. You may feel angry, hurt, panicked, rejected, and scared. What you need to know is that these emotions are normal. You have every right to be upset, so accept your feelings and go easy on yourself.

* Also remember that many, if not most, successful people have experienced major failures in their careers. But they’ve turned those failures around by picking themselves up, learning from the experience, and trying again. When bad things happen to you – or you’re going through unemployment – you can grow stronger and more resilient in the process of overcoming them.

Surviving the emotional roller coaster of unemployment and job loss:

* Write about your feelings. Express everything you feel about being laid off or unemployed, including things you wish you had said (or hadn’t said) to your former boss. This is especially cathartic if your layoff or termination was handled in an insensitive way.

* Accept reality. While it’s important to acknowledge how difficult job loss and unemployment can be, it’s equally important to avoid wallowing. Rather than dwelling on your job loss – how unfair it is; how poorly it was handled; things you could have done to prevent it; how much better life would be if it hadn’t happened – try to accept the situation. The sooner you do, the sooner you can get on with the next phase in your life.

* Don’t beat yourself up. It’s easy to start criticising or blaming yourself when you’ve lost your job and are unemployed. But it’s important to avoid putting yourself down. You’ll need your self-confidence intact as you’re looking for a new job. Challenge every negative thought that goes through your head. If you start to think, “I’m a loser,” write down evidence to the contrary (“I lost my job because of the recession, not because I was bad at my job.”).

* Look for the silver lining. Losing a job is easier to accept if you can find the lesson in your loss. What can you learn from the experience? Maybe your job loss and unemployment has given you a chance to reflect on what you want out of life and rethink your career priorities. Maybe it’s made you stronger. If you look, you’re sure to find something of value.

A long job search can wear on your attitude and outlook, especially if you’re unemployed. If it’s taking you longer than anticipated to find work, the following tips can help you stay focused and upbeat.

* Keep a regular daily routine. When you no longer have a job to report to every day, you can easily lose motivation. Treat your job search like a regular job, with a daily “start” and “end” time. Following a set schedule will help you be more efficient and productive while you’re unemployed.

* Create a job search plan. Avoid getting overwhelmed by breaking big goals into small, manageable steps. Instead of trying to do everything at once, set priorities. If you’re not having luck in your job search, take some time to rethink your goals.

* List your positives. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself, including skills, personality traits, accomplishments, and successes. Write down projects you’re proud of, situations where you excelled, and things you’re good at. Revisit this list often to remind yourself of your strengths.

* Volunteer. Unemployment and job loss can wear on your self-esteem and make you feel useless. Volunteering helps you maintain a sense of value and purpose. And helping others is an instantaneous mood booster. Volunteering can also provide career experience, social support, and networking opportunities.

* Focus on the things you can control. You can’t control how quickly a potential employer calls you back or whether or not they decide to hire you. Rather than wasting your precious energy on things that are out of your hands, turn your attention to things you can control during your unemployment,, such as writing a great cover letter and resume tailored to the company you want to work for and setting up meetings with your networking contacts.

* Dr. Adrian Daisley is a Certified Life Coach, Business and Marketing Consultant and founder of Think and Prosper Development Brand

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