Layoffs seem to have become part of the landscape of Corporate America.
I remember the first time my family was impacted by layoffs. My husband’s job was eliminated as part of a company policy change in 2006. We had built a new house a few years before and were still adjusting to the new budget. We were also new parents, handling a toddler and an infant.
I think I was more profoundly impacted by the layoff than my husband. I had cut back my hours after I returned from my second maternity leave. I had been so wrapped in the details of my insipid job that I was completely unprepared for the announcement when it came.
Sleep evaded me for months until my husband made his decision (which was to not search for an internal placement and to leave that company).
In the end, it turned out to be a great blessing for both of us.
Change is often like that. It can be very hard to handle, but can push you in directions you could have never predicted.
Last year when I decided to quit a full time job at this same employer, I had an inkling that plans were afoot for major changes. Lo and behold, just this past month they announced that their policy change will eliminate several hundred jobs. Among the impacted employees are dear friends and former colleagues.
Sad as these sudden layoffs are, my fleeting vision of a larger capacity to serve seems to be coming to life.
This time I am able to be of service; I am able to make a positive impact. This time I am prepared to help clients pivot their career in the direction of their talents and their dreams through a Creative Coaching program.
But, back in 2006, my husband had few resources to turn to when he was laid off. I had even fewer resources to cope with the unforeseen change.
Today’s post is not just for my current and future clients. This post is for my husband and my younger self, 7 years ago. Those new parents, the ones who blindly entrusted their talent and their values to Corporate America. I write to remind my younger self of the value of self reliance and resilience.
I write to urge you to always look for the greater pattern that is unfolding in your life. As you start taking actions to navigate your layoff, remember this:
Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.
1) Guard your emotions
Change in hard even when it is anticipated and planned for. If you are not prepared for it, something as irrevocable as job elimination can really put you in a tailspin.
Most of us fear change because it entails loss in one form or another. The beauty of surviving the currents of change is that you are bound to emerge stronger and with a fiercer determination at the other end, but only if you allow yourself to acknowledge and work through your emotions.
Guard your emotions and be kind to yourself as you negotiate the turbulent currents.
Look for resources and support to successfully steer your default response from anger to acceptance. There are no short cuts within the change cycle. You may feel tempted to skip ahead by convincing yourself that you are ready to heal, but it doesn’t work that way. It is only by resolving each stage can you truly move forward towards your new path.
2) Take advantage of resources
Most companies offer career counseling and outplacement services. I understand, you may feel like you are not ready for a face to face interaction with a counselor. However, you can start utilizing their resources such as online tools, books and other media right away.
You may also find resources in your local community such as your library, church or other groups.
Remember that you don’t have to commit to a future course but you can start exploring options that are available to you.
3) Keep your communications positive and neutral
When you are shocked or stressed and feel like life is spinning out of control, it is natural to lash out at others. You may feel like venting to everyone you speak. On the flip side you may feel like showing off to everyone how you are unaffected by this loss. You may feel compelled to share your life story.
But the best policy is to be positive and neutral about your job loss in all communications. Be neither gloomy nor ebullient, save your energy for what lies ahead.
4) Stay out of office gossip
When we are hurt we want to reach out to others who may be impacted and share our sob stories with them. When done in a private conversation with an intent to heal, it may be acceptable to engage in such heartfelt discussions.
But on the whole it is wise to stay away from water cooler chats or any rants on social media. In addition to potentially damaging your reputation, it will only prolong your period of adjustment.
5) Catalog your accomplishments
Do you know what your greatest accomplishments are? If you have been waiting for your manager to inform you about your successes, shame on you!
Create a list of your top 25 accomplishments. Focus on those times when your work made a material difference to your company’s goals or a personal difference to your clients’ process. Hone this list until you can identify your outstanding accomplishments.
This exercise will serve several purposes. First of all, it provides a reminder of your achievements and elevates your self esteem. Secondly, it helps you to narrate a coherent story about yourself. Lastly, it keeps you focused on what’s immediately in front of you, which is delivering on your projects and gaining closure at your current employer.
6) Choose your story
People remember and respond to stories more than they do to facts and figures.
What is your career story? Why do you do what you do? How are you channeling your gifts into your work?
It is exceedingly important to be armed with a story of your dreams and your vision. Because you carry your story everywhere you go, you need to be able to relay it in such a way that it resonates and sets you apart from the rest of the crowd.
7) Connect with your peers and management
Make it a point to connect with peers and management on a regular basis. Make sure that they are aware of your accomplishments and the value that you add to the company.
Don’t wait until a job elimination is looming to connect with them on social networks. Be sure to request testimonials and references as you complete projects.
8) Plan to transition your projects
Your job may have been eliminated but your project still needs to be delivered. Anticipate your manager’s concerns by preparing a detailed transition plan. If your manager is unaware of your projects, schedule a meeting with him or her. Notify her of your priorities, impending deadlines and risks to the project because of your departure.
Offer suggestions on which of your teammates can pick up your work. Even amidst the challenges of dealing with change, you can ensure that your projects will be safely transitioned to competent colleagues. This is sure to ensure that you receive favorable testimonials from your manager and your clients.
9) Update your online profile
Make sure that your online profiles are consistent and indicate your current job status. Some networks allow you to explicitly state when you are interested in receiving notifications related to your role.
Use the power of social networking to connect with influential people in other companies. Ensure that your profile reflects your capability and showcase your portfolio.
10) Assemble a portfolio of your work
Almost all jobs lend themselves to being able to create a portfolio of your work. Even if you have only developed artifacts for your employer up until now, you can envision a hypothetical scenario comparable to your current work (and industry) to create samples for potential employers.
- If you are a software developer, develop sample code
- If you are an analyst, create sample scenarios and analyses
- If you a consultant, endorse a strategy and champion your philosophy
- If you are a writer, demonstrate your writing skill through a variety of samples
11) Reassess your strengths and talents
Even as you are listing your accomplishments and narrating your story, I hope you recognize that this change could have one positive outcome. This event is bound to alter you as an individual and as a professional forever.
I hope that you take this opportunity to begin mind mapping your vision of the perfect career.
While you are considering your perfect career, why not take a closer look at your talents and strengths? Retake assessments and personality profile tests you may not have considered before.
Are there talents that you have allowed to hibernate or worse yet atrophy? Can you start utilizing and reinforcing those dormant talents? How do they alter your story?
12) Develop a new routine
As the maelstrom of emotions subsides and you find a new balance in your life, establish a new routine.
You may be tempted to be present at your (virtual) desk every moment of the day lest your manager check in on you. But this is the time to be selfish.
Do not neglect your projects, but at the same time set aside time in your schedule to explore alternatives.
Don’t hesitate to request time with prior managers and mentors. Ask for their advice, but be sure to rely on yourself or work with a impartial coach to make your decision.
13) Practice positive affirmations
One small negative change can snowball into an avalanche of negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors. With positive thoughts, the opposite holds true. A steady stream of positive affirmations can reinforce good habits and create a cascade of positive feelings.
If you have never subscribed to the benefits of positive affirmations, now is the time to start!
Positive affirmations work not because of any occult magic, but because they tap into your brain’s radiant thinking patterns.
As you formulate your desire in the form of thoughts, your shift your focus. Your creative mind begins to scan your life for reality that matches your thoughts. This is similar to when you are looking for the perfect light fixture for your kitchen or when you have been searching for the perfect opportunity to use your passion for art in your daily life.
You begin to zoom in on opportunities that can lead you to your goals. By refining those intentions and incorporating them into your daily routine, you begin to recognize potential solutions.
14) Reinforce good habits
It is easier to counter the stress caused by change if you have a structure to rely upon. Good habits provide the framework to lean on when you are struggling with a drastic change such as a job elimination.
Strengthen your commitment to your good habits, be it healthy living, reading, or community service. These habits will ground your emotions while simultaneously accelerating your healing process.
15) Get an overview of your finances
Even if you are not going through a job elimination, it is important to have a handle on your financial position. What is your net worth? What is the extent of your debts? What if any unavoidable financial commitments do you have?
A holistic picture of your financial affairs will help you when it comes to deciding between alternatives that are available to you.
16) Maintain stability in your personal life
It is easy to bring work stress and chaos home. While losing a job can be stressful to an adult, we are mature enough to realize that it won’t last forever. We can cope with idea of building a new future.
Children on the other hand have no such frame of reference. They can be deeply affected by a parent’s job loss. It is important to let them know what happened and how it will affect the family. However, too many details can be a burden.
Maintain stability at home by sharing your journey and allowing kids to help however they can.
17) Get inspired and motivated
In our goal driven world, the power of inspiration is often underestimated.
Why does inspiration matter? Because when you are inspired you are alive to possibilities that exist outside your present reality. You are able to look past the individual threads and perceive the larger tapestry of your life.
One way to get inspired is to engage in creative pursuits. In addition to kindling intrinsic motivation, creative activities also sharpen your lateral thinking processes.
Creativity and inspiration will enable you to transcend your limitations and see beyond your current capabilities.
If you are struggling with a job loss or a career change, my sympathies are with you. These are but a few things you can do to manage your transition starting this week.
If you are struggling with change and career transition, you could benefit from working with a coach.
Drop me a line. Learn more about how Creative Coaching can help you transform your layoff into a turning point towards greater success and happiness.
Meanwhile be strong Career Voyagers! You shall prevail!
Your Creative Coach,