8 Tips for Turning that Pink Slip into an “E Ticket”

Job loss can be terrifying.  Understanding the emotions that are common to most people can restore a sense of normalcy and control as well as help you take proactive steps to select success factors as you go through the process.  One thing that is often overlooked is that some of life’s most difficult challenges can provide the impetus for exponential growth resulting in positive change.  Having the ability to see the possibilities and seize this opportunity can propel you into a brighter future than you ever thought possible.  Don’t rush to escape, but do equip yourself and surround yourself with supportive, positive people.

Grieving a Job Loss is Normal

Grief is a natural response to the emotional suffering we experience when someone or something we love is taken away.  We most often associate grief with the death of a loved one, which is a source of the most intense grief.  However, any loss can cause grief and that includes loss of a job.  Some people even feel guilty over feeling grief!  Give yourself permission to grieve your loss and understand that you are not alone.

Everyone grieves differently and there is no “normal” timetable.  The process is a highly individual experience and influenced by many factors including personality, coping style, life experiences, faith, and the nature of the loss itself.

In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross developed the “five stages of grief”.  Not everyone will experience all of these stages, but they are a common response to negative life changes.  If you are experiencing these responses you are not alone, and this too shall pass.

  • Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will _”
  • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  •  Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

Progression through the stages is not usually a neat, orderly process so don’t worry about what you are “supposed” to feel, or where you “should be” in the process.

Growing Through Adversity

Now that we have addressed your loss, there is another perspective to consider.  As Shakespeare once said, “Sweet are the uses of adversity.”  When we experience challenges and overcome adversity in our lives, we have an incredible opportunity to enter into a season of  growth.  We all crave the mountain top experiences, but it is in the valleys of life where we are transformed.  Viktor Frankyl, who survived the atrocities of Auschwitz discovered, “The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me.  The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.”  There is a great life lesson in Dr. Frankyl’s words!  So, while you are in the valley, you don’t want to wallow.  The point is to be aware of what you need to learn and come away with, but to keep going.

Don’t rush through to the next job without doing some soul searching and brain storming about where you want to go in life.  It can be tremendously helpful to work with a professional career coach who is trained in both life and career assessments.  Since 65 percent of the U.S. workforce expresses dissatisfaction with their careers, be sure your coach can help you determine how to optimize satisfaction in your life and career.

Taking a holistic approach is best, since we cannot compartmentalize our lives; impact to one area will show up in every other area.  Here are 8 tips for turning a pink slip into an “E-ticket” and to help you enjoy the ride!

  1. Complete a comprehensive assessment.  The assessment phase should look at your experiences throughout your life, should include a visioning/life planning exercise, and should help identify the career that you are best suited for.  Your career coach should be willing to point you to resources you can use on your own, or work with you on a one-on-one basis.  There are a number of resources to help you build a personal brand, develop a marketing plan, and launch an effective job search campaign.
  2. Control your environment.  Limit exposure to negative messages.  That might mean avoiding the news and political programming completely for a while.  You have enough stress for any one person to manage right now.  A steady diet of negativity will affect your mood, emotions, and attitude.
  3. Take care of your spiritual side.  What gives you a sense of spiritual well being?  Meditation?  Prayer? Attending church, synagogue, or mosque?  Reading scripture or inspirational material?  The point is seeking spiritual well being, so pay attention to your needs and see to it that you do not neglect yourself.
  4. Guard your mind.  Surround yourself with positive people.  Remember attitude is contagious, so stay away from negative people.  If you are like most, you will have enough of a challenge defeating negative thoughts your own mind will conjure up!  You don’t need additional mental battles brought on by negative influences.
  5. Take care of your body.  The benefits of regular exercise are well-documented and too numerous to list.  Exercise affects the brain through the release of endorphins which improve cognitive functioning and elevate mood states.  It is also shown to improve stress management, pain management, weight management and provide increased energy levels.  An effective exercise regimen should include cardio, strength training, and flexibility training, but there is no one-size-fits-all routine.  If you are not someone who has established the habit of regular exercise, consult with your doctor first about a plan that is right for you.
  6. Nourish your body.  We have all heard the term “comfort food” but items on that list do not usually provide the best nourishment.  Be careful about too much sugar and caffeine consumption which can result in a “crash” and opt for a well-balanced diet.  As a rule of thumb, if it was not a food 100 years ago, it is not food now, so avoid it.  The closer you can get to single ingredient foods, the better off you will be.
  7. Get adequate rest. The latest studies recommend seven to eight hours per night.  In addition to a regular good night’s sleep, plan to have three hours of FUN every week.  You will feel more balanced, refreshed and energized to sustain your search campaign.
  8. Get out of the house.  Start getting appointments on your calendar right away.  Even if it is just meeting with a friend for lunch or coffee, put something on your calendar every week.  It can be tempting to stay at home and work at your computer all day only to discover it is 4:00PM and you are still in your bathrobe.  Remove your excuses and schedule activities that force you to dress like you would for work.

Certainly transforming your life involves a great deal more detail than we have room for in this article, but if you put these 8 factors into practice, you will be well down the road and ready to tackle anything!

Jennifer Vogel is a career coach with REA.