Your gain: We’ll talk about a type of loss that isn’t often discussed or acknowledged in the way it should be: job loss. We’ll hold a space to acknowledge how difficult this is, why it can be so stressful, and how to cope with this loss the best we can.
Why Acknowledge Job Loss
I wanted to kick off this post today by first acknowledging job loss. Holding space for this and giving some credit where credit is due here. Losing a job is HARD! And let’s be real, whether it’s one you genuinely enjoy or one you’re sort of “meh” about, the shock, discomfort, anxiety, and worry this can cause is undeniable.
Let’s be real, the most stress-inducing aspect of job loss for many of us is the need for a stable income to support yourself or your family. This probably goes without saying, right? No matter how we feel about our job, the feeling and comfort of bringing home a paycheck is perhaps close to #1 in terms of why we even have the job in the first place.
According to this article from Zippia, 65% of U.S. workers are happy with their job, but only 20% are passionate about their jobs. Likewise, only 49% of American workers report being “very satisfied with their work,” while 30% are merely “somewhat satisfied.”
Think about it for a moment, where do you fall here? There’s really no trick question here, it’s whatever you’re feeling. I just want to get your mind goin’ for a later point I’ll be making!
Witnessing Job Loss
As an example, a company I previously worked for faced some financial woes and had to cut a slew of people over the span of about six months. Needless to say, some took it well and some did not.
One interesting thing I realized in that transition was this: the people that were more satisfied in their job and connected to the company or work (or had been there a long time) took the news harder than those who weren’t as satisfied, hadn’t been there as long, or weren’t as emotionally invested in the company.
For those that were, I saw the effect it had on them. Some from somewhat of a distance, in some cases, and some I witnessed first-hand. Either way, truthfully, it was sad to watch. It made me realize how we truly do mourn the loss of a job. I mean, I knew this, but it’s what sparked the inspiration for this blog post and addressing this ever-important topic. It can happen to any of us at any time!
Why Job Loss is Impactful
There could be a slew of reasons why the loss of a job can be difficult to cope with. Let’s get these out in the open and validate some stressors here if this is where you’re at today.
Financial stress and worry
As I mentioned, one of the primary difficulties of losing a job is the immediate impact on financial stability. The sudden loss of income can lead to financial strain, difficulty in meeting daily expenses, paying bills, and potentially facing the risk of debt or eviction.
Loss of identity, routine, and emotional attachment to the job or company
This includes social isolation and emotional attachment to colleagues (not in any weird way here, just love the people you work with!). Work often provides a social network and a sense of belonging. Particularly when you really enjoy your colleagues, being suddenly separated from them or the work setting can be incredibly hard. Losing a job can cause an undeniable and sudden disconnection from coworkers and work-related social interactions. This isolation can contribute to feelings of loneliness and a loss of support systems, making the situation even more challenging to navigate.
Concern over career setbacks
Losing a job can bring a lot of fear and concern for what’s next in our careers. Gaps in employment and a job loss on a resume can sometimes raise concerns for potential employers and make it more difficult to seek and secure employment. This can lead to a prolonged job search, added stress, and a sense of uncertainty about one’s professional future. More on this later, though!
Effects on relationships
Financial strain and emotional distress resulting from job loss can strain relationships with family, friends, and loved ones. The added pressure and changes in lifestyle can lead to conflicts, tension, and a need to readjust priorities and expectations.
Losing a job can be emotionally distressing, full stop. It can trigger a range of negative emotions like shock, disbelief, sadness, anger, frustration, and anxiety. The fear of an uncertain future, coupled with the (unfair, in my opinion) stigma associated with unemployment, can lead to a decline in self-esteem, confidence, and overall well-being.
So, with that all being said, where do we go from here?! How do we begin to make sense of all of this? How do we cope with this new reality, figure out what this means for us, and find what the future holds? Let’s get into that next.
Coping with Job Loss and Finding a Way Forward
Allow yourself to grieve
Just as we would the death of a loved one (the often more “accepted” grief), acknowledge your feelings and give yourself permission to mourn the loss. Because the loss of a job IS a loss and deserves that time and attention. It’s natural to feel a range of emotions here, but processing them properly is an essential step toward healing.
This is so important. If there is ever a time when we need emotional support, it’s a time when we’re feeling pressure from countless directions—emotionally and financially often the most prominent. Don’t be afraid to lean on and reach out to family, friends, or a support network who can provide comfort and understanding. Or, at least calm you down a bit!
When in doubt, seek out counseling or even a business/career coach. Yes, I know that can cost money you might feel you don’t have right now. But if you can swing it, the doors it can unlock for you could be really incredible and beneficial to your long-term career. Think about it as an investment! Who knows what you could discover with a professional like that? Either way, sharing your feelings and experiences with others who have gone through similar situations (or can at least empathize) can help you gain perspective and offers valuable support.
Take Care of Yourself
This hopefully goes without saying, but a shocking number of people don’t prioritize this. Focus. On. Self. Care! Engage in activities that help you relax and relieve stress. Sure, job hunt your heart out and update your resume and LinkedIn, but you’ve got to take care of your physical and mental health, too. This will keep you that much more on top of your game and thinking clearly. Maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are critical.
Create a Plan
Develop a plan of action to move forward. This can be such an empowering thing to do, too, so I want you to have fun with it! Don’t put a crazy amount of pressure on yourself. As mentioned before, this might involve updating your resume, reaching out to your professional network, attending job fairs, or exploring further education or training opportunities.
As someone who was once a hiring manager on a digital marketing team, even if someone had a gap in their resume, if we saw they were doing supplemental projects, training, or certifications on the side, that was a really great sign and typically impressed us. A lot of employers might be more understanding of a period of unemployment than you’d think!
Many understand that life and company changes happen. If you show a willingness to take the bull by the horns and learn and grow as you’re finding your way, how could they not be impressed a little? Regardless, setting specific, realistic goals and taking steps toward them can help you regain a sense of control and purpose.
Reflect and Re-evaluate
Ah, my favorite part of this process! Use this transition period to reflect on your career goals, values, and aspirations. A great way to do this is to consider what you enjoyed about your previous job, and what you might want in your future career. Use this opportunity to re-evaluate your skills, strengths, and areas for development. It could be a chance to explore new possibilities or make a career change, too! More on this in the reframing your mindset section below.
Important Things To Remember
I want you to remember two important things here before we wrap this post up.
- Losing a job can feel like a setback, sure, but it does not define your worth or future success. First of all, I believe in YOU! But I want you to believe in yourself, too. That’s where the magic and motivation will happen. Believe that with some time, effort, and resilience, you can recover from whatever this job loss looks like for you and find new opportunities that align with your goals and aspirations.
- Despite this current challenge, remember that losing a job is not a reflection of your worth or abilities. I want to also interject by saying that sometimes, as I mentioned in my example from earlier, it’s simply about the company and not you. I can’t tell you how many companies I have heard about (and were a part of!) that had to let people go because of financial hardship–especially after COVID-19. Sometimes, it comes with the territory. Is this fair? Nope, sure doesn’t feel that way!
Remember, some employers are really pained to have to eliminate positions (if that’s the case), but it’s really just a matter of what they can afford at that point. I’ve totally been there. But think about it, too—if this company can’t afford you or see value in your work, it might be time to find someone who can and does, right? More on this in the next section, though.
Reframing Our Mindset
Job loss can feel devastating, highly stressful, and an absolute gut punch. If you’re there today, I want for you to open your mind to the possibility that this can present new opportunities.
Yes, I know… you might hear this all the time. People coming in from left and right telling you to “stay positive”, “look on the bright side” and “it’ll all be okay”. Listen, I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I’m not one of those people right now. I kind of am… but hear me out on something.
This might be a little woo-woo what I’m about to say, but I want for you to consider that there could be some higher power working in your favor. Just crack open that door and open your mind to that right now, that’s all I want you to do. Why? Because with adversity comes growth, learning, and evolution beyond our wildest dreams or expectations. There might be something bigger and better for you out there that you don’t even know or see yet, but is trying to make its way to you. You just have to open yourself up to it, believe it’s coming, and welcome it with open arms.
I’ll be really blunt–had my mom and dad not died, I would likely never have been in the grief space. And in this grief space, I’ve found my purpose. Hands-down. My purpose, my dharma, my calling… whatever you want to call it, I have found what I am no doubt meant to be doing. Healing, coaching, serving, and supporting. I’ve also found an insanely awesome group of people, many of which I now consider to be good friends who are highly supportive (more than my own family and friends, at times!), that I never would have found otherwise.
When you know in your heart you’re being called to do something else… there’s nothing like it. It simply doesn’t feel like work. You feel fulfilled, inspired, motivated, in alignment, and deeply excited to get up and do what you do every day. Who doesn’t want that, right!?
That being said, the inspiration, motivation, willingness to put yourself out there, and tapping into a deep passion that comes along with discovering what you’re really meant to do in this world—with your one and only precious life—is a next-level experience. I mean this wholeheartedly when I say I want you to feel that is possible.
And guess what? When you do that, other people will feel it, too, because there’s no denying it. I can’t tell you how many people who knew me pre-parent loss and see what I’m doing now that have said things like, “Tara, you’re glowing. I can so see that this is what you’re meant to be doing. You even look and sound different! You’ve totally found your calling, and now you’re answering it.”
Use This To Your Advantage
So yes, I’m being that friend that’s encouraging you to see this hardship as an opportunity for personal growth, self-reflection, and exploring new possibilities. Take a beat and enjoy a break, even if only a small one! Explain this to friends and family if you have to. I KNOW the responsibilities of life and family and everything under the sun often comes first, and that’s absolutely okay. But YOU are a massive part of that foundation of your family. You need to be okay, fulfilled, happy, and be at least tied for first, too.
Put your mental and physical health at the forefront, have fun networking, upskill the heck out of yourself, learn new things, learn about yourself, and keep that positive mindset going, my friend. Whether you stay in a similar job or industry you just left or seek out a new one, I have zero doubt you’ll find exactly where you’re meant to be. All you need to do is know in the fibers of your being that you’re capable of that, too.
Explore my Course and Freebies!
I have FOUR free tools you can take advantage of if you’re ready to step up your grief work. I’m so excited to share these with you! My Gratitude in Grief Journal Prompt, From Grief to Grinning Toolkit, A Practice in Presence Toolkit, and Creating a Vibrant Life Toolkit are ready and waiting for you to download. All you have to do is click here or the button below.
Needing some more in-depth grief education, coaching, and coping tools? Look no further—meet the Grief Becomes Gains Online Course! This course is over 20 hours and 10 modules of material that can be done at your pace, on your terms. Come back to it over and over as you need it, because once you own this, you own it for life! You also receive a 100+ page toolkit, a monthly coaching call with fellow grievers and me to connect and talk all things grief, and more.