Today’s post is a guest post from my friend Heena. Heena is a Toronto lawyer who was “restructured” earlier in 2009.
When Donald Trump utters the words “Your Fired”, it makes for must-see t.v., but when your boss says, “We no longer require your services”, it’s a whole different ball game. This is exactly the situation I found myself in five months ago. I have to admit, I didn’t see it coming and the whole scenario seemed a bit surreal as I sat there, with a VP, HR and outplacement services. Once I peeled myself off the floor, consulted my lawyer and negotiated a severance package I was left with the daunting task of reconciling my feelings of hurt and anger over the loss of my job.
To put things in perspective, you probably need to know a bit about me. At age 34, I’m a successful professional woman with a condo in a swish area of Toronto, with a mortgage, student loans and other financial responsibilities of the typical 30 something set. I live a pretty good life, I like to vacation, eat out, shop and go for cocktails. Not quite the ‘Sex in the City’ life but certainly a watered down version. So being the sole income earner in a family of one, was going to throw this ‘girl about town’s’ life on its ear.
The first step was to deal with the anger. I needed to vent and vent I did. Confiding in my close knit circle of friends, I cursed, yelled and cried, until I was emotionally spent. Then I stepped back and looked at this situation for what it really was, an opportunity. As my friends reminded me, I had not been happy at my job for quite a while but had remained there out of complacency. I had been half-heartedly looking for other jobs, but I had become trapped in the comfort of familiarity and a steady paycheck. Not to mention the recent global economic melt-down had me nervous about making any risky moves.
So here I was, not of my own free-will but forced to face my career dissatisfaction head on. I let go of any feelings of inadequacy and blame and prepared a plan for moving forward. With the help of a career counselor I took stock of all of the things I didn’t like about my previous jobs, identified my key strengths and weaknesses and made a list of my interests. From there, I narrowed down my career options to four different paths and assessed their suitability by comparing pros and cons.
Once I decided on the top two options, I started doing some research and tapped into my network to see if anyone I knew was doing those jobs currently and met with them to do a bit of informational interviewing. I also met with everyone I knew to let them know that I was looking and told them exactly what I was interested in. Through networking and conventional means of job searching, I have had 7 interviews and am confident that I will land something very soon.
Being out of work is a very stressful time and it can often be difficult to remain motivated and positive. My experience has been not to fake it. If you’re having a bad day, give in to the bad day. Here are a few tips to make it through the rough patches:
– Treat yourself – “food is love”- sometimes it’s ok to indulge in that burger or piece of chocolate.
– Don’t feel guilty for not spending 24/7 in front of the computer searching for jobs – go for a walk or window shop to get some fresh air
– Stay connected with friends and family – you may have to be more frugal about spending money but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out for coffee or invite people over for a glass of wine.
– Get into an exercise routine and make sure you eat well most of the time – this will energize you and keep you in a positive head space.
– Pick up old hobbies or start a new one
– Organize your day so that you are doing a variety of activities – get started on small projects you’ve been meaning to get to but just haven’t had the time
– Ask for help – if you don’t have anyone to talk to and the stress is getting the better of you, speak with your doctor or get a counselor. We all need help sometimes and it is not a weakness to ask for it. Losing a job is right up there on the stress scale with divorce and death.
Remember, losing your job is not the end of the world. If you take this time to figure out what you really want out of life, chances are, you will end up in a much better place than where you began.