Are you being laid off or furloughed?
In these stressful times an event such as this can feel like you’ve reached the bottom.
It can feel easy to just let go and give in to negative thoughts and feelings at this time. Stop right now! There are a few simple things you can do to turn what can seem like a crisis into an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. The trick is to change your mindset, and stick to the facts, even about your emotions.
Choose at least one of the following 7 do’s and don’ts to keep positive and confident after being laid off or furloughed from your job, and stick to it for a week. Record your experience in your voice journal and see how you feel, you will thank yourself later for taking this small simple step.
Getting into the right mindset to stay confident
1) Do accept that worrying is natural in such times. All emotions carry valuable information for us. Worry often signals that the external circumstances have changed and this requires action on your part. Makes sense right? Think of it as a heads-up from your body and mind, even though it doesn’t always feel great.
Voice journal practice: Acknowledge your worry
You’ll be surprised how powerful it is to simply say to yourself what you’re feeling!
Practice acknowledging your worry for example by saying: “I feel worried, and that is normal. Anyone would be in my place. It’s due to the circumstances right now, but things will soon change because I will take action.”
2) Do take some quiet time every day to voice your thoughts and feelings; this will allow you to observe and become more aware of the natural changes in your mood. You will find those moments that bring you joy, gratitude, curiousity, or optimism. No feeling is forever. Impermanence is the name of the game when it comes to feelings, so tune into them, and document them in a diary.
Voice journal practice: Label your feelings
3) Do try to stay concrete, and avoid generalizations. The more concretely you talk and think about your worry, the easier it will be to set yourself up for taking specific actions to tackle the source of the worry with an action or plan. For example, instead of saying or thinking “I’m worried about my finances”, you may say to yourself “I’m worried about making the next mortgage payment in 3 weeks.” The concrete worry immediately contains in it the seed of a plan – for instance, call to check what options there are about your next mortgage payment within the next 3 days. Break it down as much as you can so that your worries become a list of to-dos. Even if some to-dos seem hard, you will feel more in control of the situation. Having a plan also re-directs your mind into an action mode, rather than feeding the bad cycle of worrying or rumination.
Voice journal practice: Keep your mind on the concrete
Every time you speak out your thought and feelings, try to describe them in as much detail as you can, even if it seems obvious.
For example, compare this general statement to the concrete summary of facts and feelings below.
General: “I got laid off my job, and have no idea what to do.“
Specific: “So, I have been working at this job for 3 years, and I got promoted last February. I am very competent according to feedback from my colleagues and manager. For example, I remember Kelly complimenting me two weeks ago on the results from that campaign – and I didn’t even think I’d done anything much! I did get laid off last week, probably because of the circumstances right now, but that doesn’t really seem to depend on me… I still feel like I’ve developed my skills over the past 3 years. I feel like I am still eager to learn new things, or to apply the things I know at a new job. Maybe it will be more interesting, maybe even better paid? I need to figure out what my goal is for the new job I’m going to take, and to draft a plan on how to approach it to achieve this goal…”
4) Do take some time for self-discovery. Reflect on your strengths – this will put you into the mindset of the proactive job seeker. Create a list of things you’re good (and great!) at. Reminding yourself of the mastery you’ve achieved will boost your self-esteem, and provide ideas about areas in which your skills may be most valued. Maybe there’s this new job that would fit great, but you never knew existed until now? Or maybe you can pick up a new skill that can help you diversify your CV, such a simple graphic design skills, or copy-writing? Keep the possibilities open, and see what sounds good to you. Take this moment as an opportunity to discover something about yourself and calibrate your career course.
Voice journal practice: Reflect on your strengths and values
Take a few minutes to talk to yourself, about yourself. Some questions you may use to start the conversation:
– What do I value the most in my life?
– Has this event changed what I value? What changed?
– What is my biggest strength? Why and how did I get to be strong at this skill?
– What would I ideally like to do at my job? How would my values jibe with this ideal job?
– How do I feel about my career choices, and career trajectory?
– If there’s a job I’d be curious to do for a while, this is it____.
Things to watch out for
In addition to the above DO’s, when you’re feeling low and uncertain you may tend to neglect certain acitvities or succumb to other unhealthy ways to cope with your feelings. The 2 biggest enemies to self-confidence are 1) staying trapped into a boring or tiring routine that does not nourish your spirit, and 2) trying to suppress negative feelings and thoughts. Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of these two don’ts.
1) Do not neglect playfulness, creativity, and humour. It may not feel like the best time. However, making some effort for a bit of playfulness helps to distract you from a bad mood, and can help you to interrupt a cycle of worrying and rumination. By being playful with others, you can also do something nice for others, which brings about an instant positive vibe. You don’t have to force yourself for anything massive, a little goes a long way. Simply telling someone a joke, or playing a quick board game with your friends or family will take your mind off things, and help you relax.
Or, feel free to stay playful by yourself by doodling art, jamming on musical instruments (Garage band has great options even for newbies!), singing (which you can also document in your voice diary!), or baking and decorating a cake. Being creative and playful brings feelings of mastery and autonomy – very important for self-confidence.
2) Don’t suppress your thoughts and feelings – research shows the more we try to suppress, the more vivid the thoughts and feelings come back (a re-bounce effect). In fact, by trying to suppress, you may even be strengthening your negative thinking and feelings, because to suppress, your brain keeps track of what you’re trying to suppress. So don’t waste energy on suppressing – instead do 1 or more of the voice journaling practices above, and re-evaluate after a week. You’re bound to feel like you’ve done something good for yourself. <3