Courage Life Lessons in Fear Fighting

What to do When You Lose Your Job: Survival Guide

Ugh. Losing your job just really feels awful. You’re headed in one direction, going one way, you have drive, focus, and passion. You’re good at what you do! And then all of a sudden you’re thrown completely off course.

I know… because I lose my job every year. Each year I think I’ll be safe from budget cuts, and yet every year I get the dreaded pink slip. (Which isn’t actually pink by the way.)

Luckily for me, I always manage to fly under the radar and get my position back after budgets have been passed, but every year I go through the Job Loss Blues. (Blues is an understatement actually. It’s more like JOB LOSS BLACK HOLE.)

So here is my Survival Guide.

Feel sorry for yourself. Cry, eat junk, drink wine, watch sappy movies, and crawl under the covers. If you’ve read my other posts, you know I’m a big proponent of pity parties. Just limit the partying to a weekend at most.

Dust off. You might be going where you thought you were headed, but you’re in a new and exciting place. You just need to embrace the fear of the unknown. You can’t choose your circumstances, but you can choose the attitude you have about those circumstances. Will you wallow forever in a sea of sadness and denial, or will you look at this as part of your bigger plan?

Make a list. On one side, list all of your talents. Every little thing! What are you good at? Can you sew or paint? Write? Listen well? Organize? Plan? Garden or cook? It doesn’t matter how small it is or how it might be related to a job. Just list it! If anything, at least you’ll start to feel a little better about yourself.

On the other side, start to write down the job or jobs you’ve had since you were younger. Cross out the jobs you hated- Waitress – and circle the jobs you loved. Make some notes about what parts of those jobs you loved. If it was babysitting, did you love being around the kids? If it was clerical stuff, did you like using the computer?

Think back to when you were little. What did you want to be when you grew up? I’m not saying you have to move to NYC and become a fashion designer if that was your thing, but going back to your original dream may give you a little direction now. Write everything down on your list.

Get online. Even if you’re just dreaming, see what’s out there. My favorite job search site is I’ve always wanted to work in the non-profit sector, so I also spend a lot of time on

Keep a journal of the jobs that peek your interest, even if you don’t qualify for them right now. It will help you decide where to go next. At the very least, this part of the recovery process will show you there is a direction for you to go in. Losing your job really is not the end of the world, even when it feels like it.

If you can wrap your head around where you might go next, you’ll feel a little better. Start to draw out your map for the next part of your life, but keep in mind you just won’t be able to plan everything.

Dust off your resume. Look around online for examples and help with making your resume fit the job you may be working toward now.

Realize you don’t have much control other than these steps. You can look around for jobs, use this as an opportunity to find a job you love, and work on your resume. Other than that, you just don’t get to have any say! Let go of that. It will be scary and it will be new, but you won’t be able to mold it to fit the plan you thought you had for yourself, so don’t waste energy trying.

The whole situation reminds me of my FAVORITE inspirational story. It is meant as a story of encouragement for people who have a baby with special needs, but it also applies to all unexpected situations. I try to keep it in mind every time I deal with a life change.

Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley

It’s like planning a fabulous vacation to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make all your wonderful plans: the Coliseum, Michelangelo’s David, the gondolas in Venice. You may even learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland ?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy”

But there has been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you go out and buy new guide books. And you learn a whole new language. And you meet a whole group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there awhile and you catch your breath, you look around and begin to notice Holland has windmills- and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone one you know is busy coming and going from Italy…and they are all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, and very lovely things about Holland.


Why Losing Your Job/Boyfriend/Mind is the Best Thing That’s Ever Happened to You


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