There are a number of reasons that can lead to a layoff, some of which are related to your performance or fit within an organization and many that are mostly out of your control such as the financial condition of your company, a merger or sale, change in management, or overall economic conditions. Regardless of the reason, being released from employment is a huge disruption to our lives and is likely to be a traumatic experience.
We spend most of our waking hours and devote so much energy to our jobs that we end up tying them to our self-worth. Then, when the rug is pulled out from under us, we're left with a huge void and too much time to think. After a termination or layoff, many have described feelings of shame, embarrassment, fear, worry, and depression. It's not uncommon to feel grief similar to a death in the family. Many of feelings are normal and will be overcome in time. However, they can last for weeks and even months if you don't counteract them. As quickly as possibly, you must accept the reality of your situation, shift into a positive frame of mind, restore your confidence and self-worth and get focused on the future.
Terms that describe job loss – fired, laid off, let go, etc. - are often used interchangeably. It might be OK to mix and match these terms in casual conversation among close friends and family. But take more care outside of that small circle, as each one has a distinct meaning. The terminology used by you and others is an often ignored but extremely important part of navigating unemployment because it can affect you psychologically, legally, financially, and reputationally. Such critical things as your state of mind, negotiating your severance, qualifying for unemployment, and landing your next job can be significantly affected by how you describe and document your circumstances.
From a Focus perspective, the idea is to concentrate on restoring your confidence as quickly as possible. But different terms to describe job loss, used by you or others, impact you and are received by others in very different ways. Therefore, create an elevator pitch that’s both truthful and as positive as possible in describing your circumstances. For example, rather than “they fired me,” try “I was part of a restructuring.” Here are words to avoid, use with care, and use more frequently when creating your elevator pitch and conversing with others.
• Avoid - fired, dismissed, released, terminated, let go, sacked, lost my job
• Use with Care - position eliminated, laid off, furloughed, downsized, reduction in force
• Preferable - left, mutually separated, restructured, reorganized
There are different views on whether to take time off to "clear your head" immediately following your termination. From experience, even if your termination did not come as a surprise, it will be difficult to think clearly for at least the first day or two after. Allocating three to five days of downtime is fine, but do not take much more time than that before you get back in the saddle. Your Finances and Future are relying on you being confident, focused, and clear-headed relatively quickly to contend with the financial management and job search activities ahead which will take considerable time, energy and stamina.
Unfortunately, there's no magic formula. Repairing a damaged psyche can only be accomplished by getting up every day and making it happen. What can be guaranteed is that if you do the following things regularly - every day if possible - you will feel motivated, full of ideas and increasingly confident in yourself.
Eat and sleep well
Maintain a regular schedule and fill your day with activities
Exercise (make this a priority and join a gym, even if you're tight on cash)
Get out of the house (your spouse and family will thank you if they're not used to having you around all the time)
Resist the temptation to crawl into a shell - interact and converse with as many people as possible
Surround yourself with positive people
Don't stop socializing with friends and family
Take the opportunity to re-connect with your spouse and children
Start a journal of thoughts, ideas, and skills
Take advantage of free and professional counseling services
Attend networking events and muster every ounce of extroversion you can
Volunteer and give back to the community
Keep in mind that even when you're ready to put your most recent employment experience behind you and shift toward the future, there are likely to be several lingering interactions with your former employer and colleagues - return of company equipment, severance negotiations, insurance coverage questions, etc. - and it might be a month or more before you can completely cut the cord. This is another reason why it's important to begin incorporating the above activities into your daily routine as soon as possible and not let those reminders of your layoff drag you down.
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