Included in those reductions were key performers like Margaret who worked in functions no longer deemed “business critical.” Margaret believed being laid off meant that she had failed. She froze, personally and professionally, and did nothing for several weeks except look back at what had happened, wondering what she could have done differently.
Margaret hadn’t failed at her job; however, she was failing at dealing with the situation.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between December 2007 (when the recession officially started) and October 2009, there were 49,357 mass layoffs affecting more than 5 million people. (A mass layoff is when 50 or more people are laid off at the same time.)
So there are many individuals like Margaret who are dealing with an unexpected speed bump in their career path.
Hitting those career obstacles hurts, just like it did when you fell off a swing when you were 10 years old. But, just like you did way back then, pick yourself up and keep moving. View the situation as a “teachable moment” for exploring, growing and learning instead of allowing yourself to withdraw.
As Albert Einstein remarked, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
Use these seven lessons and inspirational quotes to keep moving:
1. Look for lessons to be learned. Work with a trusted confidante to explore your thoughts and feelings about what happened. There’s something positive to be learned from nearly every situation that will make you better the next time around.
Consider this quote from songwriter and scholar Bernice Johnson Reagon: “Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”
2. Aim for acceptance. Denying what happened or looking to find fault won’t make the situation go away or change the outcome. Focus instead on what you do well and look for opportunities where you can apply your strengths.
As author Carlos Castaneda reminds us, “The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
3. Analyze your thoughts and feelings to become more self-aware. Take a long hard look at your reactions so you can better understand your motivation.
Ponder these words from American essayist and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.”
4. Keep taking wise risks. Expand your comfort zone. Learn and grow by trying something new.
As Aldous Huxley, English writer, tells us, “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”
5. Build bridges to the future; don’t burn those to the past. You never know when a past boss may be-come a future boss, so you want to assure that the relationship remains posi-tive.
Billy Cox, author of The Dream Book, offers some excellent advice, “Taking the high road is usually not the easy one to take or the most popular … but if you compromise your principles and your integrity, it will always end up costing you far more in the long run.”
6. Be optimistic. Shed those “what if” thoughts or “maybe I should have” worries, and remain positive.
As author Remez Sasson writes, “The difference between can and cannot is only three letters. Three letters that can shape your life’s direction.”
7. Get, and stay, moving. Volunteer, take a class, work out, become a mentor, network. Learn from the past and energetically move on.
Reflect on these words from orator and philosopher Edmund Burke, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
The next time you are cruising down the highway and see the road sign that reads “keep moving, change lanes later,” smile and follow the good advice.
Jane Perdue is CEO of The Braithewaite Group. The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Search Assistance Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like further assistance, register for a workshop or make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested.
First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, January 1, 2010.