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Frequency of layoffs and reorganizations are so commonplace, most of us know someone who has lost their job this way. Some of us have been on the receiving end of the layoff ourselves. Some of us see it coming and some of us are utterly blindsided. Nevertheless, we find ourselves opposite of our manager or an HR professional handing us a folder of some sort. We hope for some semblance of a separation package and then are left to sort out what happened and more importantly, what will we do next.
If you’ve been laid off — and believe me, it can happen to the best of us — it’s important to remember that you are not alone and this does not have to be the worst thing to happen to you. If you’re struggling to figure out what to do next, consider the following tips:
Breathe. It’s safe to say most people aren’t thrilled to hear they’re getting laid off. Even if your company provides a decent severance package that gives you some time to find another job, being asked to leave is a kick in the gut. The natural impulse is to fix the situation pronto. Which is why we’re here, of course. But it’s also important to take a moment to breathe. Allow yourself the time to take in the moment, wrap your head around what just happened, and process your emotions.
Shock. Anger. Hurt. Betrayal. Relief. It’s natural to feel all of these and more after being laid off. If you saw it coming, you may already have dealt with many of your emotions. Or not. No matter your situation, you should give yourself the time and permission to really connect with your feelings about being laid off. Talking with a friend or journaling can help you appreciate the range of your emotions and begin to work through them.
Choose your inner dialogue wisely. Our jobs are closely linked to our sense of survival and often our personal identity. Being told you no longer have a job can trigger an avalanche of stress and anxiety. How you speak to yourself can either support you through this time or compound your stress levels. It works like this, and, admittedly, it sounds a lot easier than it is: When you choose a positive inner dialogue it tells your brain that things are going to be okay. In turn, your brain prioritizes thoughts that favor resourcefulness, creativity, and identifying opportunities. In contrast, negative self-talk causes your brain to send the message that danger is around every corner and you need to focus on protection, which can impair your creative problem solving and potentially cause you to shut down.
Prioritize self-care. When faced with an unexpected and unwanted outcome, especially one that impacts our means for survival, many of us default to a state of hypervigilance. One consequence can be the feeling that we have to save every penny until we find another job. Taking a daily shower, getting enough sleep, and going for a walk near nature are all simple and virtually no-cost activities that will help you remain physically and emotionally strong while you tackle the uncertainty of your new reality.
Be open to the positive possibilities. Your survival instincts will be pretty good at identifying all the possible negative outcomes of losing your job. So you may need to be intentional about directing your brain toward the positive possibilities. You may soon find yourself in another job that better suits your talents and style. You may get to diversify your skills in a way you wouldn’t have been able to in your previous role. You may even end up in a higher paying role. Or — like me — you may decide to go into business for yourself! In short, your next chapter could be freakin’ amazing.
Take time to identify what you want. It’s easy to feel desperate in the days and weeks after a layoff. But just because your former organization decided they no longer need your services doesn’t mean you’re unwanted. In fact, your layoff could be just the push you need to go after your dream role. Start by looking for jobs that appeal to you, even if you don’t think you’re qualified or they aren’t in your city. The point is to get clear about what you want.
Reach out to your support network. You may feel a sense of shame or embarrassment from being laid off. Don’t. Lots of top performers lose their jobs when leadership changes their priorities. Definitely consider what you want to learn about yourself and your industry from this experience, but then move forward. Having friends and family to help you through the transition can give you a soft place to land when you experience moments of anxiety or depression. Plus, letting people know that you’re available for a new job means they may be able to connect you with opportunities.
Being thrust into job hunting after a layoff can feel overwhelming, especially if you didn’t see it coming or you aren’t set up to weather it financially. Of course, do what you need to in order to pay your bills, but remember that this is temporary. Trust that you’ll be working again soon. Allow yourself to view this time as just another chapter that will lead to good things.
February 12, 2019 at 11:28AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs