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ARTICLE: Making Sense of the Future After Losing a Job You Love

A recent article tries to make sense of the emotional impact of losing a job you love. Work offers meaningful value and relationships, and when that goes, it prompts shame, anger, sorrow, and even devastation at the loss of a sense of identity and self built over years through that career.

Even in good times, a job loss can be one of life’s most stressful events, closely following bereavement, marital difficulties, and personal injury. The job losses that come with the Covid-19 pandemic and recession are likely to strike particularly hard because some industries will never recover, while others will re-appear in a very different form. Because social distancing in one form or another is likely to continue for many months, some won’t be able to return to the same kind of job. Even industries remaining intact leave some facing an uncertain future and a post-pandemic economy that will make finding work challenging.

But there’s a path forward. A global pandemic adds extra challenges but can also provide the time and freedom to begin a process of positive change and growth. Below are three phases that can help people move through their grief and growth and create successful futures:

  1. Regulate emotions: Manage your emotions so they become less intense but not completely numbed out. Talk with someone supportive, practice mindfulness, focus on wellness. Give yourself a chance to feel your new situation, including acknowledging emotions that are under the surface.

  2. Engage in sense-making: From a more emotionally regulated place, you can start to figure out what happened, why, and what it means for you. Research shows that the best possibilities emerge when people make sense in a way that shines a light on the value of their skills and personal attributes for a new job. When individuals focus on how elements of their prior experiences and identities can be reworked and extended, they create a basis for growth.

  3. Experiment and integrate: Sense-making is more than a way of thinking. Upon continued reflection of experiences in new activities they seek out, people are more likely to regard their forced transition as a catalyst for a long-needed change or a gift that opens new worlds to them. Identities become greatly enriched, strengthened, and expanded through difficult experiences.

We don’t need a crisis to change our job, career, or lifestyle. Yet for all that is painful about losing a job, it forces change upon us that may be an unexpected chance to rethink what we want and who we are, and start building a path towards a more enlivening next step. Read the full article here.

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