How to take charge of that emotional roller-coaster ride and win back your sanity.
As a career management expert, a great deal of my work involves helping individuals experiencing role redundancy to successfully transition to their next job. Identifying what they offer, what they need in return, what that next move looks like, where those opportunities lie; developing effective marketing resources, a sound job search and networking strategy, a campaign plan and finally, the confidence to keep the butterflies in formation sufficiently to interview, negotiate and land that next job. Thing is, none of this can take shape unless the individual is in the right frame of mind to begin with.
How we deal with redundancy depends on a number of factors. Age, our family, lifestyle and financial situations, past experiences, our natural disposition when handling change or upheaval – each playing a part in how effectively we cope with such momentous events. Emotions we deal with might include shock, anger, denial, worry, resistance, possible depression, acceptance, exploration and eventually, a new beginning. Thing is we don’t stop methodically at each station. Wouldn’t it be so much more convenient if we could just exclaim – ‘Shhh! Don’t disturb me for this is my worry day, hand me my worry beads, a glass of wine, a very big one please, then bugger off!’ Nope! It’s human nature to ricochet back and forth thanks to our emotional state on the day.
For some experiencing redundancy it’s ‘Yea! I’ve just wheeled out a barrow full of payout money from that fantastic job where they simply couldn’t afford to keep me anymore, a nice reward for my services – now where would I like to work next?’ For others it’s ‘Oh my god, I’m taking the kids out of university, selling the house, moving in with the mother in law, downsizing the car, calling Centrelink!’ And on the rare occasion, ‘I’m taking ’em to court for unfair dismissal, after all the years I’ve served them, this is how they repay me! Well they won’t survive without me I can tell you, the place will go to hell in a basket!’ Whoa! Manage your ‘brand’ there fella! Yes, we each have our own processing mechanisms, but let’s look at the situation objectively…
For those beyond coping, immediate referral to their company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and/or a counsellor or psychologist becomes a must for I would never assume to step into the specialist’s shoes. For others, simply implementing a myriad of coping mechanisms to help process, digest and assess before moving on to new beginnings will be sufficient. Surrounding one’s self with supportive family and friends, scripting those yet to grasp the situation; hobbies, health kicks, a long deserved holiday, tackling long overdue house renovations, clearing house clutter, job search planning and preparation to name a few. Trust me, I’ve been there twice and implementing a number of these certainly helped. But the one thing that particularly stood out for me, and continues to do so whenever life throws curveballs, is Journalling.
Journalling? Wait! Did I just hear a collective sigh?
Hey that’s ok for journalling is not for everybody. But for many, a chance to clear the head of the day’s clutter, make sense of those swirling emotions, negative thoughts and self depreciating checklists. When I find myself feeling overwhelmed and needing to shut the chattering monkeys down sufficiently to sleep well, I reach for my journal. It just works.
Whether dealing with job loss or simply needing to process excessive brain activity and restore calm, it’s no surprise that journaling has re-emerged as a valuable tool for managing your personal carriage on the roller-coaster of this fast paced world. I don’t believe journals/diaries ever left, just that we’ve become too busy to use them…oh the irony! Take a look at a Kikki K catalog these days and you’ll see an evident resurgence – ‘A Sentence a Day Journal’; ‘100 Dreams Journal’ ‘Goals Journal’, ‘Words to Inspire Journal’, ‘Happiness Journal’, ‘Gratitude Journal’, ‘365 Journal’ – the list goes on.
Ok! So you’ve decided to give it a go. You’ve purchased your smart looking journal and you’re now wondering what the hell you’re meant to do with it?
Here’s a start – before turning the lights out, open your journal and put your favourite pen to the paper. Now write the first thing that comes into your head…a thought, a feeling, an emotion, a good thing that happened, a bad one, people you interacted with, a memorable snippet of conversation, a quote you liked, something you learnt…doesn’t matter what you write, just write. Now here comes the liberating part.
If you are feeling troubled, write down all the contributing factors. Yes, list them. Every single one of them, big or small. All of ’em! Now review each point and ask yourself ‘Is there anything I can do about this one?’ If the answer is ‘nope it’s beyond my control’ – your job being made redundant for instance – cross it off the list. Grant yourself permission to put a big line through it! Repeat with each point until you are left with only those you can control. Now remind yourself that you will never waste another moment of your valuable energy dwelling on those that fell on the cutting floor.
If worry is your middle name, why not take a leaf from Dale Carnegie’s perennial book ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’ and think to yourself – what is the absolute worst that could possibly happen, yes, the absolute worst…then ask yourself how likely is that to actually occur? Work back from there on steps you would take to avoid that happening in the first place and suddenly, what might have felt insurmountable just lost it’s spotlight for you are already planning ahead. Which leads to the good part!
Look at the remaining points and think of just one action you will take to address each one, one by one. Just one action (baby steps) per point. Once done, take just three action steps (remember, baby steps) you can readily implement tomorrow and write them on a fresh page. Now commit yourself to addressing these when you wake.
Oh! And before you close that journal, just one more thing!
Write down ‘just one thing’ you were grateful for today. A roof over your head, a lovely chat with a friend, the joy of your child’s laughter, your partner’s embrace, the dog’s unwavering loyalty, the food on your table, nice weather… you get the gist. If all else fails, might I suggest a thought for the many who are so much more worse off in our war torn world. And now for the best part of this journey…
Soon you’ll be writing more and more positives and a whole lot less negatives. That false bravado will move from ‘fakin’ it to makin’ it’ and the next exciting chapter of your life will start to unfold. During the journey your journal may move on to become your constant companion, or it may just emerge for troubling occasions, it doesn’t matter. Mine? It continues to serve as a gratitude journal. Cue collective sigh…why not give it a go?
NB: Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), Counsellors and Psychologists are invaluable support mechanisms, don’t be afraid to seek their guidance. For immediate need reach out to BeyondBlue (24 hrs a day, 7 days a week) 1300 22 4636.