In 2015, after more than 10 years at the company I helped grow, I was laid off from my job as the VP of marketing. I gave a lot to the company and felt like what I got back from the new management that came in a year earlier was a kick in the ass.
I am sure this is how a lot of people feel when they are laid off, especially later in their careers. Now, with so many being laid off in the wake of the pandemic, while perhaps easier to justify, it can be even more challenging to think about how to move forward. I speak both from experience and as a coach. If you have been laid off or are facing a job transition, consider taking the following actions to get yoursel on the right path forward and in the right state of mind.
1. Take an honest look at yourself
What are your strengths, weaknesses, and skills? How did those influence—positively or negatively—your past role? What parts of your job did you enjoy and what did you dread? Were you actually happy before you were laid off? I can honestly say that I was not, and realizing that was a big first step toward my moving forward.
2. Step up your self-care
Major changes, even in “normal” times, are physically and emotionally taxing. Now, more than ever, you need think about taking care of yourself. One thing I did right after my layoff was begin a daily exercise routine—something I didn’t have time for when I was working long hours. With no job to get to, I had no excuse and working out was something I could count on to make me feel good about myself, where I was in control and I could feel productive with my time. What is that for you? What can you do that makes you feel good about yourself?
3. Engage your curiosity
What have you been missing while you were working in your job/career? Is there another path you want to explore or an industry you are wondering about? What about hobbies that you have pushed to the side or books you’ve been meaning to read? You never know where curiosity might take you so take the opportunity during this time for some exploration.
4. Find support
Since your job layoff affects your family as well, it may be better to seek the outside support of friends or professionals. Look for online networking groups in your community or in your industry where you can connect with others. I found that networking both with people in transition, as well is more broadly, reconnected me with a sense of community. It got me out of my own head, and enabled me to meet new people and engage in professional conversations. If you don’t know where to start, try meetup.com where you will find groups for everyone and everything.
5. Let go of anger
If you are swirling in a sea of negative feelings, think about how to let that go. It is the only way you can truly move forward. I found meditation to be very helpful to move me into a more productive space. It’s not hard to get started and doesn’t require a huge amount of time, yet the benefits such as increased focus and sense of well-being, are extensive. Free apps for meditation are easy to find and usually include programs for beginners. Try it for a week and see what you think.
6. Let go of how things were “supposed to be” and accept “how things are”
Shift your thinking from what you’ve lost and find appreciation in what you have. What can you be grateful for, big or small? What is good right now? If you are struggling to see the good, try keeping a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, write down just three things that you are thankful for. It could be as simple as a sunny day, but it is helpful to remember even the small moments and to end your day and go to sleep with gratitude on your mind.
7. Keep things in perspective
Or try on a new perspective. Don’t get stuck. Remember, if the last few months have taught us anything it is that life is unpredictable. You may feel really bad right now but rather than the end, what if this were the beginning of something great?
Of course, my situation of a few years ago was, in many ways, very different from the challenges so many are facing right now. But, it taught me that if you face your challenges with an open mind, if you do whatever you can to move away from the destructive negative energy that comes with job loss, you will open yourself up to new and amazing opportunities that you may have never even considered before.
Amy Kan is a former marketing executive turned leadership coach based in Los Angeles.