No one wants to be told their employment is being terminated. It is not a feel-good message even if you didn’t love the job or the employer.
An emotionally confusing response to this kind of experience is natural.
I won’t talk here about how unpleasant it is to find yourself out of work unexpectedly.
Instead, I want to focus on the opportunities that being in a state of professional transition offers.
With the right effort and attitude anyone can create significant and positive changes in his or her life.
To realize the upside of being between jobs, I recommend four stages of adapting for the future—Release, Reflect, Refocus and Re-entry.
Mindfully navigating these key stages can keep you on track and boost your self confidence during a period when it is especially fragile.
The first phase, Release, is about letting go of the past, specifically the job itself, the employer or a particular manager/work group.
In my career coaching experience, I have found many people are still so emotionally attached to their last employer they can’t even consider what other options might be available to them.
They need time to de-program themselves from their last employment situation.
Often people don’t realize they’re stuck until it is pointed out to them.
If this sounds like you, be assured that with awareness this releasing phase can happen quickly.
It requires conscious effort to accept what has happened, process the emotions that come up and then release any lingering negativity around that so you can move on.
Part of the process of letting go in a healthy way also involves Reflection.
This stage is a wonderful opportunity to look back on your work experience to explore both the highlights and the low points. In doing this kind of exercise, you can often see where there may have been a mismatch between yourself and your last job.
Then it is a matter of finding out why and what would be better next time.
In many ways, the Reflection stage is the most crucial for designing a brighter future.
An honest self assessment of natural talents, knowledge, learned skills and core values can provide key data needed to identify which path to take going forward.
It is an empowering exercise when it is fully embraced.
It can be as simple as reframing work experience as specific achievements or as complex as delving into personality assessments to help identify behavioural patterns, career interests and aptitudes.
With the groundwork laid in the first two stages, you will be in a much better position to Refocus on what is next.
The saying “you can never go back” is fitting here. Yes, of course you can go back, but things will never be the same because you have changed.
Now you have given yourself more options, to try a different career path, to choose a more compatible work setting, to get further education and training, etc.
And have a clearer idea about how your work life could be better going forward.
The Refocus stage naturally includes a phase of getting re-energized.
After you have thoroughly considered where you’ve come from and determined where you want to go next, finding the motivation to make things happen will come easier.
Knowing what you want in your ideal job gives you more control over how and where you search for that.
This idea of keeping your eye on the goal will bring you much greater chances of finding more satisfaction and success in your career.
Re-entry is the final step to close the out-of-work loop. Getting back into the workforce is different for everyone.
There are so many elements at play that there is no single strategy to recommend.
Many people find career coaching support to be invaluable, while others manage their own way through.
Whichever approach you choose, putting in the effort to prepare—and take care of—yourself when you are in professional transition can ease some of the stress.
Being out of work is a complicated and vulnerable state to be in. At the same time, it offers a precious opportunity to discover what is truly important to us professionally and personally.
Losing your job is not the end of the world though it may seem like that some days. While it closes the door on a chapter of your work life it also offers a chance for a new beginning.