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5 Ways to Shift Your Mindset After Being Laid Off


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When 2023 started, I was stressed about family trips, taking so much PTO, weddings, sick kids, spending enough time with my husband, and giving myself time as well. 2023 was and continues to be a busy time for my immediate and extended family. The thought of anything additional popping up on our calendars was grating on my nerves, and I was really having a hard time focusing. I constantly worried about how we were going to survive the busy year despite my husband’s reassurances.


Then, on January 12th, I was laid off.


Immediately, everything that had stressed me out completely changed.


Losing your job is a funny thing, and it isn’t something you can really describe to someone who has never experienced it. There’s embarrassment, shame, guilt, and self-doubt. I battled with understanding how it could happen especially when the only reason I was given was because the company failed to hit its sales targets. I was a casualty of lost revenue and restructuring. While this should have reassured me, being told that it wasn’t my fault didn’t alleviate those feelings of shame and self-doubt.



In addition to my own feelings of being let down, I worried about my fellow friends who had also just been laid off. How would they fare in this economy? Would they be one of those who bounced back immediately to find a job, or would they be on LinkedIn in 6 months time sharing their story of looking for jobs for entirely way too long?


And these feelings came and went like the tides of the ocean hitting me in large waves and receding quickly. They looped around and around especially in those first few days.


Just like all things that come to a halting end, you progress through the five stages of grief after the initial shock.


For me, it went about like this:


Denial: Did that really just happen?


Anger: Good riddance, I’m glad it happened. They did me a favor. I didn’t even like being there anyway, and they’re going to regret this.


Bargaining: If I had my targets better, I’d still be there. Maybe God will help me get into something else.


Depression: What’s the point of anything? All of these other jobs have hundreds of applicants. Why would I even try?


Acceptance: This is a terrible situation, but I’m going to be okay. At least I no longer have to worry about PTO for our vacations.


I progressed through these stages several times in my journey. Each time, I found a deeper level of acceptance.


In the first half of 2023, we have seen thousands of people laid off, a lot of them top performers. When you have done everything you can do for a company, and it isn’t enough to save you, it’s gut wrenching. It can be really hard to find your grounding after being laid off, but a lot of people don’t have the luxury of time to process these emotions. Many Americans immediately are back in the job hunt, looking for their next gig.


Either they can’t afford to take the time, or they don’t want their plans delayed because they are no longer employed. Many of those laid off were placing “Open to work” on their LinkedIn profiles within minutes of the news.


I am the exact opposite. I am the person who was laid off and immediately wanted nothing to do with any of it. I wanted time. Within a week or two, the initial stress I felt from being laid off had dissipated quite a bit, and I started to work on my new venture.


It’s been about two months since I was kindly told I was being relieved of my services, and I can honestly say that I’ve never been happier in my career.

The following five points helped me find joy in the unknown. So here are five ways to shift your mindset to self-care after being laid off.


1. Fostering the mentality that your job does not define you.


I have long believed that my identity had nothing to do with what I did for work. I was a teacher before I moved into an account executive role. My job is what I did, but it wasn’t who I was. I tend to lean more into the fact that I’m a wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend before anything else.


This is great if you’re someone like me. I did something that I was good at, but I was perfectly fine leaving it at closing time and not thinking about it again until the next day.


I understand that this is not true for everyone. I have many friends who absolutely feel the need to work and what they do is a major part of their identity.


We are here on this rock to work, but understanding that we are also meant for more than work too can be freeing.


2. Taking the advice that you are just a number to your company.


In my first 6 weeks teaching at a new school, I broke down in tears to a veteran teacher. I’ll never forget what she told me.


“Jackie, if you die tomorrow, they’re going to take a red marker, cross your name out, and replace it with another one. Take care of yourself first, always.”


This is true across all industries. All companies are out to protect themselves. I’m not even mad at them for it. It’s just the way of the world. Unfortunately, everyone is replaceable. Understanding that has always reminded me that my company is not my “family” even if they constantly use that term. They are my employer.


3. Giving yourself time


I cannot stress this enough. Giving myself the time to process what had happened made a huge difference. In that time, I was able to think about making a large pivot in my work and life to something completely new.

I was blessed that years ago, my husband and I did the work to begin budgeting, to get out of debt, and to set up an emergency fund. If I had not taken these steps, I likely wouldn’t have been able to take too much time to really think about my next steps and digest what had happened to me. My financial situation would have dictated the amount of time that I could take.


With that being said, if you need or want work as quickly as possible, give yourself the time to breathe. Take the weekend or a day for yourself. The job applications will be there tomorrow.


4. Cultivating a support system


In those initial days, I felt incredibly embarrassed that this had happened to me. I didn’t want to say much to my family after telling them. My husband heard me transition in and out of anger. My entire family, including my husband, my sister, my mom, and my dad acted as sounding boards as I workshopped career moves.

Ultimately, when I decided I wanted to transition into working on my creative writing and freelancing, my husband and my family were extremely supportive.


I believe in myself, and my family believes in me. Without the support of everyone around me, this time would have been extremely difficult.


5. Building a relationship with God


This may be one some of you skip, but it is absolutely a large part of how I found peace so quickly with my situation.

I grew up Catholic, and I had been practicing my faith for many years, but I can say that I was very ignorant in many things when it came to my faith and the Word of God (and definitely still have a lot to learn).


After my daughter was born, I watched the TV show “The Chosen,” and it really put a fire in my heart to learn and understand more about scripture and have a deeper relationship with God.


I then participated in the Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz, and reading and learning the Bible’s story in its entirety has changed my life.


After being laid off, my faith carried me through and still carries me now. I’m still very much in the midst of my transition. He gives me strength when I am weak.


In all things, there are caveats. Right now, my husband is still gainfully employed. If that were to change, well, let’s just say that the stress would return. Still having one steady income within the household makes a huge difference.


Even so, all 5 points would continue to apply. These 5 ideas would ground us as we worked and took each next step on our journey.


Don’t wait to be laid off to practice healthy habits mentally, physically and fiscally. Do it now so if it happens, you have the tools to help you through.


And if all else fails, take a nap,


Jackie


P.S. If you’ve lost your job before, what were some ways that helped you stay positive while navigating the unknown?



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