By John O'Connor

If you’ve just lost your job or feel like you’re about to, it can create a storm in your mind and in your life. Most coaches, advisors, friends and family suggest you stow away your income, cut your expenses, cut back on travel and essentially enjoy life less. They talk survival budgets, living on emergency funds, fending off creditors, cutting back on frilly coffee and a host of other fear-based ideas.

When healthy moderation becomes panic, I find many people in career transitions often ignore the somewhat counterintuitive strategies that help you thrive during a time of job loss. Often, this kind of coaching takes a bit of time to seep into my client’s minds because it’s not quite as logical as going into a fear-based survival mode. I’ve heard from clients and others, “This isn’t fear; it’s my reality, and I need to cut back and slow down.”

But the reality that I notice in clients who embrace a more faith-focused, positive outlook is that there really can be joy in losing a job and it can be an ironic time to thrive and prep for career advancement. They find ways to help others during the week, volunteer, spend more time with family, develop new habits, pick up certifications and improve their communication and emotional intelligence.

They Invest In Themselves And Self Improvement

Many of my most successful clients immediately invested in training after a job loss. Instead of begging their previous company to help with their career, certifications and trainings, they took ownership of all that. It’s a tell-tale sign of job loss health.

Even if their proverbial portfolio takes a hit, they don’t react to the negative by cutting back on what’s most important: their education and training. Though they may develop a little tighter survival budget on optional items, they actually invest in what’s important, and that’s themselves. They pay for coaching, courses, events and even lunches and coffees with key contacts. And they write goals for 30, 60, 90 days and create ideas and options.

They Break Bad Habits And Create Positive Ones

Some of my clients who were so dedicated to their companies found out some surprising things after a job loss. They used that time to lose weight and read. They started and lead small groups and meetings on best practices in their fields. They consulted with small businesses and volunteer organizations and provided their insight for pay or no pay.

Use this time to do things you’ve never done or didn’t make time for during work. Many of our clients started their own blogs, created their first professional articles and published for the first time outside of their company newsletters. One client started a new habit of reading to homeless children every week. Seven years after landing a great role, he still kept up this reading habit.

 

If They Need Money, They Do What They Have To Sans Ego

In a career transition, the shock of a job loss hurts the ego, and it’s hard to ask for help. But the healthiest of my clients in this position either immediately embrace it or learn to realize it’s not shameful to take a survival job. They take contract jobs, retail jobs and jobs below their skill level, or they start their own small business for a short time.

One client who drove for Uber during a short stint said, “My friends and even spouse kind of pitied me. One person said that it would hurt my career. I didn’t care. I did it to prove something to myself: No job is below me. And you know what? I was pretty damn good at it too.” Two years later, he speaks to job seekers and executives in transition about humility and confidence, using the theme No Job Too Small. I think he’s onto something.

It’s possible to enjoy a setback and use it as a springboard to become a better person, employee and candidate after a job loss. People with a mindset focused on the future use this setback to give and not just take. They find creative ways to learn and share. They start giving more, sharing more, volunteering and acting like things are going well and will go well.


Category: Editorial