Careers

Here’s How To Prepare If You’re Losing Your Job


Today, Disneyland may not be the happiest place on earth.

Disney recently announced layoffs of 28,000 employees (two-thirds of them are part time workers), a reaction to a 91% stock price downfall in the first quarter of the year. The recent evictions from the House of Mouse combine with somber news from the airline industry, as American, United and others plan massive layoffs. Hours away from the October 1st deadline, United plans to dismiss 16,000 workers, including nearly 3,000 pilots. At Fort Worth-based American Airlines, 19,000 workers are being let go. Worldwide, reports estimate the amount of travel-related job losses to be nearly 50 million. But airlines and hospitality aren’t the only sectors affected: Shell is laying off 9,000 employees. Raytheon announced furloughs for 15,000 employees on September 17. Technology, energy and engineering are not immune to job losses.

What’s the path forward, when your career has been cut short by this current economic climate? Here are five ideas that can make a difference:

  1. Don’t Hunt a Job: make one. Entrepreneurial ventures are thriving right now, as necessity becomes the mother of reinvention for many. Remote work opportunities are rising, and working from home can mean a new lease on life – and career. Gallup says that 36% of American workers are in the gig economy, working as freelancers, consultants and coaches. In the UK, the gig economy has more than doubled in recent years. Consider exploring opportunity sites like Fiverr.com, Freelancer.com, TaskRabbit and Upwork: what could you offer that would allow you to utilize your skills, right now?
  2. Assess Your Situation: Financial matters may be a concern, so assess where you are before you look at what’s ahead. Are you ok, right now? Do you have some room to move, explore and search? Write down six ways to make money. Then seven. And keep going. Notice: “ways to make money” not just “a job you would like”. Don’t put restrictions on your list, like financial targets or expectations. Hey – does inputting a date, job title or deadline help you to be more creative? In my experience, no. Goals are guides, not a self-imposed pressure-cooker. Find some room to explore, outside of a deadline, if you want to discover all the possibilities.
  3. Evaluate Your Values: Scientists at Stanford identified an important (and short) exercise that can help with personal assessments during times of stress and uncertainty. In just 10 minutes, you can access feelings of greater connection, discover a sense of support and develop greater confidence and commitment. Sound too good to be true? This groundbreaking approach has been duplicated multiple times at universities and testing facilities across North America. At least, that’s according to Kelly McGonigal, author of The Upside of Stress. In this video, Stanford psychologists Cohen and Sherman outline the crux of “self-alignment theory” – the basis for McGonigal’s claims. In a simple, 10-minute exercise, you can discover greater resilience and opportunities for support – and the 10-minute experiment shows lingering effects months or even years afterwards. All you have to do is identify your values. Then, spend 10 minutes writing about how you see your values reflected in everyday life. Do it once, or journal on this topic everyday: science says it will help change your relationship to the challenge of finding what’s next.
  4. Plan Your Comeback: What’s something you’ve always wanted to do, that people would pay you for? Reinvention is the only way forward, for industries that have all but evaporated during the coronavirus. Remember this: human beings are all capable of reinvention. Resilience (the ability to bounce back from a setback) is inside all of us. We may not want to release the past, but we all have the ability to do so. Your comeback begins whenever you decide. How about right now?
  5. Self-Care Counts: If you’ve spent your life and your career devoted to your industry, perhaps it’s time to devote your attention to yourself. Remember, you will never regret being kind. Want to see if that saying is true? Start with the person you see in the mirror. Don’t beat yourself up over circumstances. Be good to yourself, get creative – and see what possibilities might exist for you.

There are four words that can be a useful reminder during tough times. These words aren’t a motivational mantra, senseless slogan or useless pile of sunshine designed to cheer you up. Being cheerful isn’t necessarily useful when managing change; being realistic is. So, here’s a four-word dose of reality: you are not alone.

I’ve been fired. I’ve felt the impact of losing a career. It hurts. I know. You are not alone. Past the pain and the loss, here’s what I can tell you with absolute certainty: I’m still here. I’ve reinvented, recreated, readjusted. I never thought I would say these words, but when I think about what happened to me, I’m better because of it. Like Marie Kondo in a hoarder’s house, I’m grateful for every “goodbye”. If you’ve heard that word recently, don’t worry. Keep moving forward. Don’t let recent circumstances keep you from being who you are meant to be.



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