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Career Transition: How to Get Back in the Game After Losing Your Job
 by: Karen Rowinsky

Whether you are laid off, let go, or your company has closed its doors, the new buzz phrase is that you are in "job or career transition." The good news is that being in transition is much more positive and powerful than simply being unemployed. Unfortunately, many people in transition are feeling anything but positive and powerful.

Losing one's job brings up feelings of grief, fear, and many times anger. You may feel like you lost your identity when you lost your title. Even if you did not enjoy your position, when someone else makes the decision that you are to leave, you cannot help but experience rejection. Realistically though, you do not have the luxury to remain feeling dejected and rejected because it will take confidence and feeling competent to get that next career opportunity.

The following are some ways of maintaining your self-confidence during transition and some helpful tips to remind you that you lost your job, not yourself:

Expect and accept negative feelings. When we experience negative emotions like sadness, frustration, and hopelessness we either try to put those feelings out of our mind, or let them take over so that we feel engulfed by them and powerless against them. These and other negative feelings are normal during job transition. Rather than waste energy fighting back negative feelings, let the feelings roll over you; but choose not to dwell in them. After all, they are feelings not facts. Of course you can feel sad about what was but you can also feel excitement for what is to be.

Form a Board of Advisors. Now, more than any other time, you need to take pride in your accomplishments and feel good about your strengths. Most of us are not used to listing our strengths and successes. We find it much easier to see our mistakes and failures. Your board of advisors can be friends or people you have worked with who appreciate you and your gifts. Call a meeting of your "board" and ask for their help in identifying your strengths and successes.

Change negative thoughts into positive affirmations. It is natural to question yourself during job transition. It is easy to blame yourself for not being important enough or vital enough to keep your job. That pink slip may have had your name on it but it said nothing about your value. Therefore, when your mind wanders to thinking that you were not good enough, smart enough, or valuable enough, reframe those negative cognitions to more positive thoughts.

A good way to do this is to take the strength words identified by your "board" and write each on a different index card preceded by the words, "I am." Do the same with the successes starting each card with the words, "I accomplished." Post the cards around your house so that you have a constant reminder that you are not that poor "loser" that does not have a job but a vibrant, successful, capable person that any employer would be lucky to get. Keep a duplicate set of cards in your handbag and take them to job interviews. Read each one out loud before getting out of your car.

Take advantage of your time off. Just like it is difficult to stay focused on one project for hours at a time, it will be difficult to focus on your job search all day, every day. Treat this time of transition as a gift. Establish the number of hours you can be effective each day in job search. Use the other hours in the day to do things you never had time to do when you were working full-time.

Volunteering for an agency or cause close to your heart is a good way to spend that time. It can be multi-purposed; you get to use your gifts to help out others, you have an "in your face" reminder of your competency, AND, you never can tell when you could be "discovered" by a fellow volunteer and receive a referral for a job that fits your talents.

Job transition can be a confusing, emotional, and challenging time. It is important that you take control of the things that you can and let go of those you cannot. It is also important to be aware that during challenging times, people often become depressed or use unhealthy behaviors to lessen their pain. If you feel that you are struggling more than you think is normal, consult with your family doctor, a member of the clergy, a therapist, or a trusted friend. You are not alone and do not have to do this by yourself.

Quick Tips for Maintaining Self-Confidence during Job Transition

Keep a regular schedule - get up as if you were going to work, shower, dress and be ready to start your day

Practice healthy routines - now is the time to pay attention to a healthy diet, regular aerobic exercise, and getting enough sleep

Use stress management tools daily - whether it is yoga, breathing, imagery, or positive self-talk, make sure you are managing your stress

Avoid isolation - stay in touch with friends and family even if you feel like hiding out at home

Stay in the moment - avoid the "what if's" of the past or the future by taking control of what is happening today

Connect with your spirituality - spiritual or religious beliefs help center us, even being outside in the natural environment puts things in perspective

Find ways to laugh every day - even if nothing seems funny you can "fake it until you make it" by watching funny movies, reading humorous books, or even viewing silly videos on the internet.

About The Author

Karen Rowinsky, LMSW is a licensed master social worker. She has a private counseling practice in Overland Park in the Kansas City Metropolitan area. She specializes in working with women and couples who want to create the life they desire. You can learn about Karen's marriage counseling, family counseling, and individual counseling services by going to http://www.karenrowinsky.com


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