Building a New Balance After Losing Your Job

One of the things that 'life experience' gives you is the experience of loss. We lose friends, lovers, and often, jobs. When we experience these losses, we either learn from them, or we repeat them. 

Job loss can be especially stressful, in part because we are trained to not acknowledge that we are mourning when we lose a job -- even a job we didn't love.  We mourn our connection to co-workers, our spending power, the sense of security a paycheck provides, the sense of status that our job title had given us.

So now you're reeling. No job, possibly no income, possibly humiliated or simply angry at the way your former employer treated you. Now what?

First, you need to feel your grief. Don't run from it or hide from it. Spend a day or two, maybe even a week, and give yourself some time to be angry, humiliated, sad, frustrated, worried -- let it all out, whether through journaling, talking to someone you trust, getting your house in order, getting your resume in order -- however you typically work through strong emotions. But don't skip this part. 

Second, figure out whether you want more of the same or want to strike out in a new direction. Really spend some time on this. Pay attention when you're job searching as to which jobs you find yourself applying to reluctantly, and which you are eager to apply for. Go with this. 

Finally, take the time to make a plan. Where do you want to be in a year? Three years? Five years? Ten? Do you need to go back to school? Do you need to get the support of friends and family? What new skill sets do you need to develop? Will you need to adjust your lifestyle in some way? Will you spend more time at home, or at your new work? Is there some important unpaid function you can fill in your family?

Losing a job can be a huge challenge, and often your life will never be the same. This is not to say it will be worse, however. When the conventional doors begin to close, or never fully open, look for new doors and windows. Review your childhood dreams and mine them for ideas. Have faith in yourself and your abilities, and keep working toward that goal, adjusting as needed, until you reach it. 

I know you can do it.

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