20 Things I Learned from Losing My Job
Forced unemployment is difficult, but it can also be a magnificent teacher.
Every few weeks I hear of a colleague or acquaintance or a well-respected member of my field losing his or her job. The event is often sudden and unexpected, it always threatens a worker’s dignity and emotions, and the loss is hard on families. In my forty-plus year career, I have been laid off three times. The reasons and circumstances varied each time, but the effects were the same, and the pain was very real.
But pain can be a great teacher, and if we allow it, unemployment can teach lessons like nothing else. After my first layoff I started a list of those lessons, and I have added to that list with each subsequent job loss. Over the years I have been able to share the list with friends in similar situations, and it has continued to provide me with perspective about the place that work holds in my life. Even now, these twenty reminders and instructions to myself still ring true.
1. Work is a blessing. It creates income, instills self-discipline and inspires a sense of purpose. Be grateful for it.
2. Anger, grief and mourning are appropriate with any loss, including the loss of a job. Allow yourself to grieve, knowing that in doing so, the loss's impact will eventually fade, though the "what if" questions may never go away completely.
3. Don’t take it personally. Though you may be tempted to think that the layoff is all about you, there are most likely many factors at work.
4. Don’t burn your bridges. It’s a small world and we often meet the same people on the way back in, as well as on the way out.
5. Ask yourself, “Could I have changed anything?” If so, vow to do things differently the next time, and then let it go. Regret is unproductive.
6. Accept the fact that maybe you couldn’t have changed anything; after all, you’re not the one in charge of the world.
7. Take some time to rest and relax, maybe for the first time in a long time.
8. Don’t let relaxation turn into laziness.
9. Look around to see if someone will pay you to do some tasks you did for free before.
10. Make your money last. Prioritize and don’t confuse luxuries with necessities. Be creative with your finances.
11. Take advantage of every resource at your disposal for finding new work. Scatter lots of seeds.
12. Let those you care about love you. Relationships are more important and longer lasting than jobs.
13. Remember that your value to yourself, to your loved ones and to your field of work is not determined by your value to a single employer.
14. Money and work are a means to live, not life itself. Pour your heart into your next job, but not your soul and not your family’s soul.
15. Your ability to give may at times be reduced but it is never eliminated. Remember what goes around comes around, so continue to volunteer, pay it forward and give what your are able.
16. Finding new employment is a full-time job. Work at it.
17. Network with acquaintances; again, it’s a small world.
18. Look for opportunities you didn’t have time to pursue before.
19. Keep your resume and references up to date at all times. Be prepared for the sudden and unexpected opportunity.
20. Recognize that seasons change. Let the seasons of your life move along, savor the adventure and enjoy the ride.
© Nick Walker 2019
Have You experienced job loss? What would you add to my list? Please leave a comment below.