I started writing a caption for instagram about how to gain confidence after job loss, and it got so long that I decided to turn it into a full on post, ha!
This is a subject that is still something really sensitive for me. In fact, I wondered if I even had the guts to talk about it because even just thinking about losing a job makes me sick to my stomach. Literally. I feel like I’ve got PTSD from that trauma that I just haven’t mastered how to overcome, but I’ve come a long way in a year. The main thing is that I’ve figured out how to re-gain confidence after what happened. Now that it has been a year, I feel ready to share about gaining confidence after job loss.
For those of you here that have recently lost a job or gone through a job change that has really deflated your confidence, I hope you find this helpful and encouraging. I know it freaking sucks right now, but girl, YOU’VE GOT THIS. I promise.
A year ago, I walked into my office, fresh from breast reduction surgery, to find it totally empty. My manager was there with an HR representative, and a box for my things. To be honest, I’ve totally blocked out the conversation that came at that point. It’s a blur in my mind. I think I remember pieces of it… but mostly it feels like a big blank spot in my brain.
I remember walking out feeling totally blindsided and basically in shock at what had just happened. That day and the ones that followed were full of so many emotions, and all of them painful.
When the waves of shock wore off, they were followed by waves of panic. Panic about what I was going to do, my family relied on the income from that job. It was a really big deal. But the thing that surprised me the most about losing my job was not the fear that came with being jobless and having a family, it was the sudden, devastating blow to my self-esteem and confidence.
I’ve never felt so incapable, worthless, destroyed, invaluable, embarrassed, ashamed, or broken as I did in those moments.
The thing about losing a job is that it affects you on such a personal level, no matter what the “reason” is on the termination papers It always feels personal and it’s easy to come to the conclusion that somehow, you’re not skilled enough, worthy enough, good enough, etc. But this is a lie.
I repeat, this is a lie. Losing a job has absolutely ZERO impact on your value.
I sat in my car in the parking lot outside of my office for a very long time. I just couldn’t pull myself together enough to be coherent while driving. I remember calling my dad while parked., By the time I finally pulled it together enough to get home, he had sent me an email with some of the most powerful words I’ve ever had directed at me.
I’ve never felt so shaken in my confidence as I did in those moments, but reading these words changed my mindset. Truthfully, they are what got me through that time. I read that email multiple times, every single day. The subject line said, “Move Forward,” and in the email, he said,
“It’s ok to take a day, ball your eyes out, howl at the world for being unfair, and sulk, and even better if you only take the morning to do it. It is not okay to do it beyond today. Life keeps moving, and it moves really fast when you really need it to slow down. “
“Tomorrow…. You take the next step forward.”
So that’s what I did. I took the day to sit on the shower floor and sob while the water beat down on me. I called my mom and my aunt and vented my frustrations. I shut myself away and laid on the bed, staring at the wall and feeling numb. And then late that afternoon I took a deep breath, counted to five, and sat up.
I’m not sure why it is that the counting helps, but I’ve found that when I’m putting something off that I don’t want to do, it helps if I just take a deep breath, count to five, and force myself to do it. Then it’s done. It’s a great little trick.
Finding courage to have confidence moving forward.
The biggest adjustment the needs to be made when you’re trying to re-gain confidence after you’ve gone through something traumatic (like job loss), is your mindset.
The most important thing to remember is that no matter what the reason you lost your job is, it was a business decision. Whether you were laid off, let go, fired, terminated, forced to quit, whatever. Ultimately no matter how personal the situation feels, there was a business decision made to remove your employment at the company.
In the healing process, it’s crucial to understand this: IT. IS. A. BUSINESS. DECISION. You can’t go back and un-do it, no matter how nice or talented you are. Truth be told, this is life, getting ready to set you up for something even better.
I remember people telling me that these things “always happen for a reason,” and sometimes I believe that is true. However, sometimes things just happen, because that is life, and it’s our responsibility as humans to learn from it and grow with the changes.
Understanding that whatever the reason is for your job loss, it was ultimately about business, will help you focus your mind on the future.
The first step, evaluation.
The first thing I did after job loss to help me build confidence is I sat down and evaluated my life. What kind of life did I want to have? What kind of career would best suit that? What was I going to be happy doing?
In those fragile moments, it’s easy to settle for any old job because you feel like you just need *something*. But taking a few minutes to set your goals and expectations for yourself will help you direct that energy towards finding something that really is going to make your life better than before.
I went back and forth about whether or not I wanted to share this list, or if it was too personal. But to help get your mind thinking about your own list, I’ve decided to share a few of the things that were on my list in regards to what I wanted out of my future job.
Here were some of the qualities I decided were important to me:
- I want to have flexibility in my new position to be able to be the kind of mom I need to be for my kids (the ability to attend school activities, take time off if kids are sick, be flexible with daycare mishaps)
- I will get paid what I’m worth, and not settle for less out of fear. If I find something that pays less than I’m worth and choose to accept, I will continue to search for something until I find the right fit.
- I want the business I work for to be very concerned about their employees and their families.
- I need the ability to work from home on occasion if an emergency or other situation something should arise.
- I must connect with the person that will be managing me, and feel positive about entering a professional relationship with that person.
- I will find a position that utilizes my strengths and skillsets, but also encourages growth and trying new things.
- I will not work in a position ever again where I am severely micro-managed about every detail of the projects I work on, my creativity, or my communications.
- I will not be abused in the workplace. I will not allow myself to be treated as though I am of lesser importance than any other person in the room.
- I will work for a company that has good values and standards I believe in, and promote.
- I will find a position that is a stepping stone to help grow my career. There will be room to grow and learn in that position.
Going back to my story for a minute, I finally had the courage to stop laying on the bed staring at the wall. I called my aunt, and she gave me this brilliant reminder:
You cannot control what happened. It happened, and it’s done. But you CAN control what you do about it. Every thing you do from here forward is in YOUR control.
So, from here forward girl, I want you to know this: You are in control. You’ve got the power.
I made a list of everything that I was in control of that I could do about my unemployment situation. For example, updating a resume, messaging friends about job leads, and searching employment sites. I made notes of every business I came across online or driving by, and would check out their website for job listings.
Basically, I made myself BUSY. Instead of wallowing and stressing about my situation, I made a big old to-do list and got to work.
Now, I recognize that this is MY method, I’m a list person and I knew I wanted another job. However maybe you’re planning to take some time off for a while, or planning to start your own business, or something else.
Whether or not you are deciding to job hunt or go another path, the sting might still be there after the loss of your previous job. That is why it’s important to make a plan and take action to start living your new plan. When you feel like there is a purpose for what you’re doing, it’s much easier to feel confident in your actions.
Ouch. This one hurts. But unfortunately it is part of the process. My dad sent me a link to this incredible article about the importance of keeping a failure resume. If you have a minute, read the whole thing. It’s fantastic.
The article talks about how we learn so much more from failure than from successes. Evaluating what went wrong might be incredibly painful and invoke feelings of shame, guilt, or embarrassment, even if “what went wrong,” isn’t something that we could have controlled, but it’s a necessary step to find what you’re meant to learn from the experience.
Think about the type of person that you want to be, and how you can learn from your failures to improve who you currently are and work towards becoming that person.
No matter what your next step is, you’re going to be much more successful in anything you attempt if you’ve truly got confidence and believe in yourself.
I know, I know, easier said than done. But you can do it. Get out a notebook (or your phone) and make a list of what makes you happy, and everything you’re grateful for. Thinking about things you’re grateful for will help get you into a positive headspace for this next part.
Once you’ve made that list, start reflecting inward. Think about the things that you’ve accomplished, your successes, and your talents. You are strong, and smart, and a valuable, unique individual with so much to offer! Reach inward and make a list of all of the things you love about yourself and the things you’re good at!
Once you’ve got your list, keep it somewhere that you can access it easily. Any time you start feeling down, or afraid, or nervous- pull it out and read it. Remind yourself as often as you need to that you are a talented creature of significance, and don’t settle for less than you deserve!
To be perfectly honest, I still very much struggle with my confidence after what happened. Every time I start thinking about someone losing a job, I feel the urge to vomit. I have to physically remind myself REGULARLY that I have skills and talents to share, and that I’m valued and worthy at my new job. I still keep my list I originally made so that I can pull it out anytime, and sometimes I even add to it.
Sometimes it can be hard to separated ourselves from the circumstances surrounding us. It’s easy to wrap up our value as a person in things that happen to us. But it’s not fair to ourselves to do that. We may not be able to control the things that happen to us, but whatever happens, does not change the fact that we have so much to offer to the world.
Finding courage to move forward is a marker of your strength and resilience. As time passes, focus on the things that make you unique and submit to a spirit of learning as you explore the new possibilities.
It’s hard to imagine when you’re in the thick of it, but things DO always get better. when I first lost my job, I remember feeling confused. I thought I was so happy at that job and mourned not having it anymore. The new job I ended up getting was infinitely better, in so many ways. I can’t even imagine having ever been happy at that old job compared with the happiness I feel now. My experiences is personal, and every one is different, but I firmly believe that no matter how dark things feel in the moment, they do always get better.
I am a person that has had job loss happen to me, but I’m so much more than just someone that lost a job. I’m a dedicated worker. I’m creative. I possess so much positive energy. I have unique talents and skills to share. I’m a mother. I’m a friend. I’m a daughter and sister. I’m sometimes funny. And guess what girl, YOU ARE TOO.
You are so much more than what has happened to you, and you will rise above this. Like a phoenix, when the light inside you flickers out, you’ll rise from the ashes as the whole damn fire.