Published on February 18th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover
“We often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door
that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
– Alexander Graham Bell
ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES”: In working with individuals who have suffered job loss, the following question is frequently posed to me, in the words, or in the eyes, of my clients: “Got any good ideas on how to deal with this?”
Over the 32 years of my practice, I’ve thought a lot about how to answer that question. Out of those thoughts, and observing those of my clients who have rebounded most quickly, have arisen four steps almost all of the “rebounders” seem to have taken.
Like all “Four Steps to . . .” solutions, it is not a “magic pill” that will instantly solve your problems. Instead, it is a way of looking at things, comprised of a series of phases one must go through to reach the next step in life, whatever that might be, as soon, as soundly and as successfully as possible.
Is it simplistic? Yes, a bit; yes, you might say that. But from the comments I have received from clients with whom I have shared this four-step process, it seems to be considerably helpful. In my own experience, when it comes to bewildering problems that engulf us like a fog on a dark night, sometimes the simpler the solution the better. And, too, the simpler the solution the more applicable it may be to the greatest number of people.
I know this four-step analysis has helped others, and I am hoping it will help to you, or someone you know, deal with one of the more painful and dislocating experiences of adulthood.
LESSON TO LEARN: Job loss is often experienced as a series of blows – to one’s confidence, to one’s sense of self-worth, to one’s sense of direction, to one’s financial security, and to one’s sense of having a place in the daily affairs of the world. The four “steps” that comprise what I call my “Rebound A.S.A.P. Method,” seems to help smooth out, soften and shorten these blows.
I have shared them with my clients over the years, and present them to you now. Each addresses those blows in a somewhat step-by-step fashion. Coincidentally or perhaps by some design, the first letter of each of the four steps together spell out the acronym “A.S.A.P.”, and thus make it a bit easier to remember.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Here are the four steps I have found can help those who suffered job loss rebound “A.S.A.P.”
1. Acceptance – “Out with the old before you can bring in the new.” In every experience of loss, acceptance is first, foremost and forever a part of your life. It is a process without end, really never entirely completed. Like many other painful experiences of loss, including passing of a loved one, divorce, and estrangement from family, before you can rebound from job loss, first you must accept that it happened, and is now a part of your life.
Simply put, you must accept that your job loss has happened, and cannot be reversed to be “like it used to be.” It is a new reality. It is at the same time painful to remember but hard to forget. In fact, you will likely remember many events in your life as either “before it happened” or “after it happened.” And you will instantly know what you – and others who share your experience – refer to as “it.”
Life has seasons, as the Bible says, “a time to live, and a time to die; a time to laugh and a time to cry.” Job loss is one of the tougher “seasons,” that’s for sure. But changing one’s job – by choice or otherwise – every few years is a fact of life these days. All dread it, but few escape it. Like any loss, it requires a period of mourning, but mourning eventually must come to an end, if life is ever going to continue.
One part of accepting job loss is appreciating the many blessings in your life. As I often remind my clients, there are perhaps hundreds of millions of people who would gladly trade their problems in life for yours, without a doubt or a moment’s hesitation.
Another part of accepting job loss is knowing that it is a pain everyone, sooner or later, experiences. Perhaps a big part of accepting job loss is knowing that almost everyone survives it – and many even thrive after it – and that how and when your rebound from it is so very much up to you. “It is what it is,” but “This, too, shall pass.”
Acceptance takes a long time, but committing yourself to accepting your job loss takes just a moment. Don’t’ expect to be “whistling” the next day. But don’t believe for a moment that you will ever forget how to “whistle.” Or even dance. Or sing!
There’s no magic pill and no simple solution. But acceptance of the unfairness and the indignity and everything else that goes with job loss is the first step to rebounding, and too, the most important step, for the next steps can’t be taken until acceptance has begun.
While I acknowledge full and complete acceptance takes a long, long time, I’d say that while you might give yourself eight weeks to come to acceptance of job loss, you should try to commit yourself to begin the process no later than one week after you are no longer employed.
2. Selection of a Goal – When you start looking forward, you begin to stop looking backward. If you gaze at the sky, it’s not easy to stare at the ground. More likely than not, thinking of the future will be both fun and hopeful, even if a bit frightening, but that’s a whole lot better than thinking of the past, especially the recent past, which is more likely than not pretty hurtful and disappointing. Perspective matters, and by focusing on selection of a next goal is the best way to begin to take control of yours.
By a goal, I mean a “place” you want to be, whether that “place” be a role, function, position, location, adventure, a new Some of the more obvious goals might include (a) a position like the one you just left, (b) a position in a different industry or profession than you have been in before, (c) opening up your own business, (d) a vocation based up a contribution to the welfare of others, (e) relocation to a different locale, (e) retirement, or (f) a combination of these and others.
Some find selecting a goal to be easy, as in “I have always wanted to open up a photography business, and this is the time to do that.” Others find it quite daunting, as in “I have no idea what might be next.” Of course, financial, family, health and similar considerations weigh in on the choice of your next goal.
One way to help yourself select your goal is to ask others who know you well what they imagine you doing next. You may well hear these kinds of comments: (a) “You’ve always talked about teaching others who want to enter marketing; why don’t you look into that?” (b) “Well, if you ask me, I’d say your being an accountant always seemed to frustrate your desire to paint and write.” (c) “You’ve struggled with the hours required in private law practice; why not seek an in-house position?” Yes, others who know you well sometimes see you – and your most suitable next goals – more clearly than you see for yourself.
By the way, you do not have to “marry” yourself forever to the goal you select. There is nothing wrong with changing goals along the way, but, of course, there is nothing right about not having set a goal in the first instance. If you select a goal, however tentative, you are one step down your next path. You can make a turn to the left, to the right, or proceed straight ahead, but at least you are moving forward, and neither wallowing nor directionless, with your life.
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3. Adaptation to the new world and the new you – No matter how long it has been since you last interviewed for a new job or began a new business endeavor, the world has changed, and a whole lot, since then. There is not an industry, a profession, a sport or an art that has not experienced one degree or another of upheaval. But with change comes challenge, and the real challenge before you is adapting yourself to this new world. If you take just two, three or four steps to adapt to you new world you will be more likely to reach the goal you’ve set out for yourself.
Adaptation. Just as it is in natural world, it is the key to surviving and thriving in a changing work environment. Don’t adapt, and the next wave will crash down upon your shoulders. Adapt and you will be closer to the crest of the next wave, ready to ride it as far as it travels.
The New World: How do you adapt to this “new world?” Look at the changes underway in your field, think about which way they are headed, and get yourself “there” in any way you can:
- Example: Learn more about social media by engaging in it.
- Example: Attend a conference or trade show in your area of endeavor, and watch, listen and meet those who seem to be at the crest of, or even ahead of, the next wave.
- Example: Take courses on new software.
- Example: Simply ask for ten minutes of time, or a return email, from someone you If the market for real estate in your city is increasingly the province of buyers from China, learn the basics of Mandarin, and the proper ways to present yourself in that culture.
- Example: Can you sell your product or services on the internet or, even better, on mobile devices.
- Example: Consider asking someone “famous” in the field related to your new goal “Where do you see things headed?”
Taking into account what you see, hear, read and learn from others is the essence of adaptation to the new world around you.
The New You: And you, too, have changed a lot. Definitely a bit older, hopefully a bit wiser, surely more experienced, perhaps even clearer as to who you are, what inspires you, and what you want to do with the time you have before you on this earth. It is just an undeniable fact that as the world around you has changed, the world inside you has changed, too.
Likewise, consider adapting to the “new you.” How do you adapt to the “new you?”
- Consider the areas of your knowledge base that intrigue you now like they have never intrigued you before.
- Consider the relations you have developed over time, especially the new friends, colleagues and collaborators you have now but did not have five years ago. Might they be of assistance or value to you in reaching your new goal?
- Consider the extent to which “purpose” may have replaced “passion” in your life.
- If you qualify for Social Security or pension payout, you may now have added financial flexibility to consider different types of work activities that you never could consider before.
- Consider what you enjoy doing, and whether it can be the center of what you do to make a living.
4. Planning to reach your new and next goal – The last step, stage or phase of rebounding from job loss, is the easiest of the four – provided that you have made progress in (1) Acceptance of your loss, (2) Selection of your new best goal, and (3) Adapting to the new world and the new you. You may notice that the first three steps are “inner steps,” that is efforts to change “you.” This last step is your beginning to work on your “world” and you “working place” in it.
Planning is where the new you begins to unfurl, where you “come back” at the world, and, most importantly with a new perspective, a new purpose and a new point ahead of you on the horizon.
Whether your goal is (a) re-employment in your chosen field, (b) employment in a new field, (c) starting your own business, (d) retiring, (e) relocating or something else, a plan is simply a set of steps along a path to your new goal. A “to-do list” with a new purpose, a new passion, and a new path in mind.
Some people are natural planners; they are the people who you love to go on trips with, because they have thought ahead, prepared for the unexpected, and somehow considered everything that needs to be considered. If you are a natural planner, this part of your Job Loss Rebound is “a piece of cake.”
On the other hand, if you are one who just doesn’t have the planning skills, I urge you to consider finding a friend, loved one or career counselor who can help you in the process. If you don’t seek out such a pillar of support, you will have a much harder time rebounding.
With (1) Acceptance of your new reality under way, Selection of a goal (even if tentative) accomplished, (3) Adaptation to the new world around you, and the new you, inside you, you are ready to Plan, and perhaps more importantly, execute on your Plan, all A.S.A.P.
Though this “A.S.A.P. Method” does not guarantee instant success in rebounding from job loss, it has helped many people acquire and follow a mental framework for doing just that. I hope that it will help you and others you know rebound from job loss, “a.s.a.p.”
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SkloverWorkingWisdom™ emphasizes smart negotiating – and navigating – for yourself at work. Negotiation and navigation of work and career issues requires that you think “out of the box,” and build value and avoid risks at every point in your career. We strive to help you understand what is commonly before you – traps and pitfalls, included – and to avoid the likely bumps in the road. Understanding how best to quickly rebound from job loss is one important aspect of navigating wisely.
Always be proactive. Always be creative. Always be persistent. Always be vigilant. And always do what you can to achieve for yourself, your family, and your career. Take all available steps to increase and secure employment “rewards” and eliminate or reduce employment “risks.” That’s what SkloverWorkingWisdom™ is all about.
*A note about our Actual Case Histories: In order to preserve client confidences, and protect client identities, we alter certain facts, including the name, age, gender, position, date, geographical location, and industry of our clients. The essential facts, the point illustrated and the lesson to be learned, remain actual.
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Sklover Working Wisdom™ is a trademarked newsletter publication of Alan L. Sklover, of Sklover & Company, LLC, a law firm dedicated to the counsel and representation of employees in matters of their employment, compensation and severance. Nothing expressed in this material constitutes legal advice. Please note that Mr. Sklover is admitted to practice in the state of New York, only. When assisting clients in other jurisdictions, he retains the assistance of local counsel and/or obtains permission of local Courts to appear. Copying, use and/or reproduction of this material in any form or media without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. For further information, contact Sklover & Company, LLC, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2000, New York, New York 10111 (212) 757-5000.
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