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On the Career Couch: Career Calamity Recovery

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There is no doubt that termination is one of the most stressful events in life. It is an event that creates a profound sense of loss that extends well beyond financial stability and security. Accompanying job loss, there is loss of self esteem, the absence of a community of colleagues, diminished sense of purpose and meaning, and a void that is left to fill. Normal responses to job loss include anger, despair, blame of self and others, denial and disbelief. Some may also feel a sense of relief because the anticipation of job loss was no longer there or because they hated their jobs. Whatever the initial reactions, people who have been terminated vacillate from one reaction to another. Ultimately, "What now?" is the question that lingers. Unfortunately, answers may not be as immediate as desired. But, there are actions that can be taken that leads to formulating answers to that looming question.

The loss of a job can be a transformative period in your life that forces you to reflect-- it provides the time to take stock, reevaluate options, current lifestyle and goals. Psychologists have coined the term "resiliency" to describe the ability to bounce back from difficult times. People who are resilient cope well with high levels of disruptive change, sustain health and energy when under pressure, overcome adversities, and adapt to new environments and "rules" after the initial setback.

Most people have the capacity to be resilient. There may be people who tend to be more optimistic or adapt easier than others, but resiliency is not reserved for the select few. The difference lies in those who exercise their resiliency versus those who do not.

The secrets to building resiliency:

Detach from being the "victim" of circumstances
Dwelling on the why and how this happened, what you should have or could have done, how you may have handled things differently maintains negative homeostasis.
Look internally to resolve problems or make change versus relying on others to formulate solutions for you. For decades our society has socialized us to acquiesce to authority. We are told do not ask questions, cooperate, conform to those in charge and follow directions to advance your career. This sets us up to look to others, particularly those in authority, when things are disrupted. But ultimately, you are in charge of ensuring your life and career goals and objectives are achieved.

Optimism, humor and positive experiences can serve as a springboard to success.
Understand that adversity is cyclical-it is not constant. Trust that things can improve and focus on strengths and resources available to you. Pessimism is like an uncontrollable fire, spreading quickly and trapping its victims. Reflection and optimism enable you to think and process information versus becoming reactive. Engage in activities that give you positive reinforcement.

Accept and adjust to the new reality
Preventing the crisis is not in your control but you do control how to manage it. Avoidance does not make adversity disappear. Accepting the reality and committing to finding a resolution is a powerful approach to overcome hurdles.

Use your emotions constructively
When you are experiencing anger or anxiety channel these feelings. Both feelings typically are accompanied by a surge of energy. This energy can be used productively to create change. In times such as these, there may be a tendency to panic or others let fear take over. Managing fear and remaining calm will allow for increased innovation and creativity.

Look for learning opportunities
People learn a lot about themselves when faced with adversity. Pay attention to accomplishments you have demonstrated during difficult times and continually use these competencies. Some times people surprise themselves with the inner strength they actually have and the capacity to overcome struggles.

Maintain a long term perspective.
When you are experiencing stress and duress it becomes magnified by immediacy. Put this stressful event into the context of your entire life versus in the moment.

Trust your instincts

Often people ignore their instincts and are affected by others' responses to turmoil. Try to maintain objectivity and not get caught up in the emotional rollercoaster or panic of others who are unemployed. Similarly, select a few trusted advisors who can be helpful versus harmful. Friends and family may be too close to the situation to provide constructive criticism.

Commit to change
Difficult situations such as a job loss provide an opportunity to do something differently, experiment with the untried and unproven. Experiment with new strategies, new ideas and choices that may have once sounded unrealistic. Times such as these require one to be bold.

Shift the mindset from being unemployed to being employed-your job is now to find a new job.

Create your job description and role and responsibilities. Identify a strategic plan and execute. This plan should include your approach, sales and marketing techniques of the product-you, research, and implementation of the strategy. Hold yourself accountable to your plan. This is a 9 to 5 position at the very least.

Building resiliency is similar to strengthening a muscle. Initially, it seems unachievable but with repetition your perspective morphs. This continuously changing perspective can enable you to see the light at the end of the tunnel and impact your stamina to find a job. The choice is learned optimism and resilience versus learned helplessness. The choice is up to you.