John StallSee more blogs
The job-loss roller-coaster ride
If you are among the 129,000 who lost your job last month, you are likely in for an emotional and financial roller-coaster ride. I say likely, because not all circumstances are the same and you may be delighted to be off into a retirement stage of life that was not too far away anyway.
But as one who has been through it once in the prime of my working life and who knows a lot of people who’ve gone through it several times, I can tell you the transition is weird because so much of it seems out of your control, at least at the outset.
That’s not to say that it might not eventually be the best thing that every happened to you, only that you will deal with the anxiety of uncertainty for a while. One of the upsides is that you, (like entrepreneurs and small business owners), learn to live with uncertainty and to start always planning for contingencies. Life is never boring when your plotting these courses.
One of the upsides (if you have some money to see you through a number of months or more) is that you can take more of a holiday than you could of in the past. The downside is that it’s pretty impossible to feel like you’re on a holiday, because that little voice inside your head will be questioning your decision to lay on a beach, and wondering if you shouldn’t be out looking for a new job or starting a new business. Holidays are supposed to clear the head.
Another upside is that you get to spend some quality time with your loved ones and to have some balance imposed on your life. The downside is that you may not feel like you are good company because you are distracted by thoughts of what you are going to do next and by when. The mind never stops.
The upside is that you will learn or be forced to define yourself in ways other than by your work, position or title. It will occur to you that the job title can be taken away in a heartbeat, but not your soul or status of mother, father, son daughter, neighbor, friend, etc. Those relationships can intensify as a result of job loss.
What feels awful for a while is the sense that you are on the outside looking in, not able to enjoy the time off over concern about what’s next.
Another upside is that you have the choice (now that you have no alternative) to decide whether or not you want to remain in the same line of work. The downside is confusion and preoccupation (growth) about what else you would like to do or could do. You may decide to try it on your own or start a new business. Learning all about what that takes brings a whole other new set of understandings to your world, including a deep appreciation for the customer or client who doesn’t have to buy from you; but, who you might find is prepared to pay ten times more than what your former employer was paying for your knowledge or service.
The upside is that in the confusion over self-evaluation you will likely have to update or prepare a resume. This is another painful but useful process, because it forces you to have a long look at your self from a number of perspectives.
Like all other unplanned events in life, what doesn’t kill you makes you so much stronger — but it is a roller-coaster ride.