Seven Things to Keep In Mind When You Lose Your Job

Consider these principles to cope with a job loss.

Posted Nov 27, 2018

VGStockStudio/Shutterstock
Source: VGStockStudio/Shutterstock

General Motors recently made headlines across the globe when the company announced that it would lay off 14,000 employees.

If you were one of the workers impacted by this news, you may have felt a giant earthquake beneath your feet. According to this Healthline report, job loss—either through a layoff, a firing, or a company closing—can create psychological distress ranging from depression to suicide.

The steps you take after a job loss are important to your well-being and future. Here are seven things to keep in mind when you lose your job, in no particular order.

1. Maintain an open mindset. While your inner world has collapsed, keeping an open mind may not be your first priority. Yet constricting your view of job prospects may mean you negate certain opportunities because they don't seem like the "right fit."

If you're seeking the exact job with the same pay and benefits, your search may yield zero results. However, if you are willing to look at various positions by casting a wide net, your opportunities are likely to increase.

2. Frame your loss in the proper light. As we all know, life is unfair. Really bad things happen to kind people, and there isn't a magic cure to resolve the pain. However, the stories we tell ourselves about our situation can either fuel more fear or calm the flame. For example, telling yourself that you will never get another job may or may not be true. Instead, telling yourself that thousands of employees were laid-off and your employee number happened to among them, but that you're actively seeking another opportunity, puts things in a different light. This second statement tells you that you weren't the only one who lost their job, and you're doing something currently to change your status.

Living in the needs of the day instead of living in the past or future is part of seeing your situation in a new light. This doesn't mean that you go out and waste whatever resources you have, but rather looking at your current day and acknowledging the needs for this current day can help you focus on today instead of projecting horror into tomorrow.

3. Limit the laments. This doesn't mean that you don't grieve your loss privately in the company of your confidants, but announcing your sorrows on social media repeatedly can appear as though you are bitter. Revealing your anger online can seem as though you're too upset and hot-headed. And few people want to refer prospective employers to a disgruntled person.

Limiting laments can help your mindset as well. Ruminating on the bad, ugly, and unfairness of your job status may only create more negative thinking, thus resulting in no action on your part as far as obtaining new employment.

4. Seek professional opinions. While this may seem counterintuitive, getting opinions about your finances from professionals such as a tax attorney and an accountant will probably help you get a clear and accurate picture of your finances. For example, you may be assuming that if you withdraw money from an investment account then you will be penalized. But do you know this is true?

Working with a professional can also help you cope with the stressors that you're encountering in a healthy way. We all have blind spots and someone else who is not so closely involved in the situation can help you assess your situation and put together a game plan.

As a life coach, I know from working with clients (both in person and remotely) that many clients report that when they feel calmer, they are better able to keep working on getting a job instead of doing nothing. And being accountable to someone else, like a life coach, can often provide the extra motivation to take even small action steps.

5. Remember that your identity is not your job. Many people see their entire identity in their work. And when this is gone, they believe they are invalid. Remember, you are more than your job title. You are more than your worst mistakes. Your value is greater than your zip code or bank account. And in knowing this, you may have to swallow your pride and take a "less" optimal job during your transition until you can find your ideal position.

6. Give to others. I am not suggesting that you give your savings account to a charity. When a job loss occurs, it is not uncommon to feel extremely deficient. However, when you give your time or donate items to charity, it can add value to your day and mind. Engaging in the process of giving back can help put things into perspective.

7. Ground yourself. Chances are that in the past you were coasting—checking in at work at the same time five days a week and taking the same vacation every year. Your life was predictable and your mind and body craved this routine. This schedule helped to ground your day.

Now, it is important to get things in place to help you ground your day, so that your day is set up to be most optimal for your job search. This may include simple things like setting an alarm each morning at the same time and going for a walk or doing meditation. Finding a place to conduct your job search, such as a library or coffee shop, is one way to separate yourself from distractions. 

On your calendar, set goals, big and small. For example, one goal may be to tell at least three people a week that you are seeking a job, and simply by saying you are open to opportunities, you come across as non-aggressive. People will generally be more likely to help or keep you in mind should something come up. By putting these systems in place, your day-to-day routine reflects your serious employment efforts.

The challenges of obtaining a new job can be an inner battle—as well as an outer one. The process can be humbling and can require inner strength once reserved only for warriors. But maintaining a powerful calm can help you maintain your sanity. This time, the raw material you're using for your job search goes beyond your educational or employment background.