Losing a job after years of dedication and hard work is always devastating, especially if you had a deep-seated emotional investment in your career. Recovering from such a setback can be very difficult and may take some time. Many people feel lost, with no idea of where to turn or what to do next. Depression may set in, accompanied by feelings of listlessness and a loss of purpose and direction. It’s not unusual for people to feel like a failure or to think they’ve let their family down. In the depths of such disappointment, you may not have the energy or drive to turn the situation into a positive. But a career setback can often open the way to an exciting new opportunity, giving you the motivation you need to try something you’ve always wanted to do, maybe even parlay a hobby or personal passion into a business venture. After all, a professional setback has given many famous and successful people the impetus and determination necessary to realize their dreams.
Failure is a great teacher. It forces us to reflect on where we’ve gone wrong and what we could’ve done differently. It also helps focus your thinking and energy. In that sense, a job loss can be a blessing, giving you the time you need to rethink your life goals and how best to attain them. If you’ve been fired, laid off, or downsized, don’t think of it as the end. Try seeing it as the beginning of a new phase, one in which you make the decisions about your life and chart your own course, maybe for the first time. If you still think it’s impossible, consider this: career disappointments motivated Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, and Steve Jobs and were just the opportunities they needed to find success in their own way, on their own terms.
Discretion and flexibility
The first change to embrace is that you have the flexibility to do whatever you want with your time. Some people find it depressing no longer having a set schedule to follow every day. Try seeing it as finally having the time to investigate new opportunities or work on a business plan, further your education, or look into a completely new career. Never feel guilty! Think of all the time you gave to your former employer, the one that let you go after years of conscientious devotion. It’s your turn now. Use the time wisely.
So what do you want to do?
Deciding what you want to do next is the exciting part. It’s your opportunity to do what you want, whatever that might be. Maybe people have always told you you should be a teacher or a computer programmer or that you’d be a great real estate agent. If it’s something that appeals to you, you owe it to yourself to look into it. Remember, this is your time to try and turn an interest into a livelihood. Most people would agree wholeheartedly that having a job that doesn’t feel like work is the best possible scenario.
Don’t take “no” for an answer
Whether you’re trying to find an investor or looking for a job in a new field, stick with it. Don’t take “no” for an answer, especially if you know without a doubt it’s what you want to do. You might need to get some training or return to school for a while. Don’t get discouraged if you have to make a left turn or two on the way to your career destination.
Learn as much as you can about your new field. For instance, if you love dogs, you could look into starting a dog-sitting or dog-walking service. Spend some time as a volunteer walking dogs for a pet shelter and talk to someone at a professional dog-walking company. Find out their challenges and try to get a feel for how it could work for you.
People are happier doing something they enjoy and find rewarding. Try to see a career setback as an opening, an opportunity for something bigger and better. If you’re happy in your work, it’ll show through in your family and personal life.
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