emerge performance - Managing Change When Your World Falls Apart

Managing Change When Your World Falls Apart



19-Apr-2018

Imagine that you’ve just lost your job. It’s not the worst thing that could happen in your life, but it sure feels close. There was no warning, so you are understandably shocked by the news. From one day to the next, you’ve gone from a comfortable life with a stable job to an uncertain future with unknown career prospects.

Hopefully, this hypothetical scenario does not reflect your current situation. But if it does, don’t despair. Losing a job can and does happen all the time, for all sorts of reasons. For many, this can be a stressful, depressing and even frightening situation – these are natural reactions to such a major life change.

Preventing or undoing this change is typically outside your control. However, what you can control is how you manage this change. And this can make all the difference in the world.

Taking stock of your situation

For many people, the loss of a job is a huge wake-up call. The loss of stability and income can be unsettling, but it can also force us to sit up and take stock. Do we like the work we do? Do we see a clear career path ahead of us, and is it a path that we want to continue down? Are there opportunities that we always dreamed of pursuing, but never took action because the status quo was too comfortable?

When you lose your job, it can be natural to respond with panic and an urgent search for a similar job that will allow you to resume a familiar life as soon as possible. However, if you can afford to hit pause, this can be a great time to look in the mirror and examine your life goals.

If you love your career just as it is, that’s perfectly OK – it means you can start hunting for a job similar to the one you just lost. However, if you decide after some self-reflection that you would like to explore new career opportunities, now may be the time to take the plunge and pivot in a new direction.

Remaining open and adaptable

Life can be unpredictable – the fact that you’ve lost your job without warning is a clear example of this. Does that mean you can’t or shouldn’t try to make plans for the life that you would like to have? No. However, it does mean that you need to be prepared to adjust your plans when life drops a surprise in front of you.

Taking stock after losing your job can help you paint a clear picture of where you’re at currently and where you would like to go from here. This is a good thing. However, if you are too rigid in your expectations, you will increase the odds of being thrown off course by the unpredictability of life.

By being more open and adaptable, you may find that more doors open for you, leading to opportunities that you hadn’t foreseen. Just because you had a 9-to-5 office job previously shouldn’t prevent you from taking on part-time freelance work now or talking to friends about starting up a new venture. Change will continue to occur in your life, so you need to be willing to assess your situation as it evolves and make the best decisions possible given your circumstances.


Moving forward together

Some people respond to job loss by internalising the situation and withdrawing from others. They view the situation as a personal failure and decide that finding a solution is solely their responsibility.

This kind of thinking can be counterproductive in two ways:

  • First, it pulls you away from your support network of family and friends at precisely the time when you need their support the most.
  • Second, it can lead to you ignoring the impact that the situation is having on your spouse or children, including their feelings and needs as they also grapple with change.

Yes, you’re the one who lost your job. However, the path forward is best travelled together.

Thriving amid change

While we used the loss of a job as the example in this article, the reality is that you can apply similar strategies and mindsets to manage change in other situations, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a major medical diagnosis or a move to a new city.

Change is an integral and unavoidable part of life. How you choose to manage it can help you take a situation that feels like the end of the world and transform it into a bright new future full of opportunity.


Header photo by Tom Zittergruen on Unsplash

Body photo by Elijah Hail on Unsplash