Join Dr. Chaz Austin for an in-depth discussion in this video The psychology of transitioning out of a job, part of Transitioning Out of Your Job.
- There's an entire industry devoted to preparing people to find jobs, but very little about how to handle losing one. Sometimes, we become so consumed with our job that losing it feels as if we've actually lost our identity. When you leave a job, you may experience a palpable sense of loss, and all the emotions that accompany that. And those are in order, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.
This is a normal, natural, and healthy process. It has a given lifespan, and it ends when you can finally let go. So, be prepared to be upset, and to give yourself the time to work through it. Don't step over it or try to deny it. Grieve, and then before you begin your pity party, move on. It was job, no one probably died. Here are some tips to help you get through it.
Number one, keep a journal. Whenever you find yourself having strong feelings about what just happened, write. Get whatever you're thinking out of your head and on-screen or on paper. Second, be careful about the what ifs. If only I'd done this or done that, shoulda, woulda, coulda. That's called a conversation not worth having. It happened, it's over. That's the closure you will get to eventually.
As Mary Pickford, the silent screen actress once said, "You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, "for this thing that we call 'failure' "is not the falling down, "but the staying down." If you were let go, you may feel it wasn't fair that they got rid of you. Maybe you suspect that the reasons they gave you weren't the real reasons you got fired, that you were a casualty of corporate politics, that someone stabbed you in the back.
You can drive yourself crazy looking to discover exactly why it happened. Chances are, you probably will never know, stop trying, it's a dead end. Number three, accept that you are in transition. You may find yourself feeling angry, depressed, confused, afraid, down on yourself, hurt, or in shock. This is normal. You miss your job, and the camaraderie, and the routine.
And as bad as it may have been at times, it beats unemployment. You felt needed and important, now you may feel unwanted and useless. Four, start every day by accomplishing something, anything. Make your bed, sweep the floor, put away the dishes, empty the trash, it doesn't matter what it is. Anything that will give you a good feeling about having done something, and write down each completed task.
I've always found that getting into action cushions the pain and upset. Number five, talk to people. It may feel like everyone else's problems pale in comparison to the fact that you lost your job. Communicating with others will give you some perspective on what just happened. There's a built in duality here. On the one hand, no job, on the other hand, there are those who have it a lot worse than you.
And at the same time, losing your job hurts. You may have noticed that I have said nothing about the next steps you'll need to take in your career. That's because you'll take them when you're ready, either when the financial pressures are such that it's time to look for another job, and/or you feel like you'll go out of your mind if you don't get back to work, and you can do this in stages. You might begin by doing some volunteer work in order to start feeling that you're back in the game and have something valuable to contribute to the world.
You do, and the new people you meet will recognize that and help you regain your self-esteem. At some point, you'll get tired of looking back at what happened, put the experience to rest, and begin looking for what's next. I've been there many times in my career, and the process is more or less the same every time I've lost the job, but I have a structure so I can get through it, and now so do you.
- Assessing the pros and cons of quitting your job
- Giving notice
- Talking to your supervisor
- Saying goodbye
- Reflecting on your old role