Job Loss, Change, and Metamorphosis

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “change” lately in relation to job loss.  By definition the noun form of the word means, “the act or instance of making or becoming different”, and there’s no question that a sudden job loss is defined by change in its truest and very unsettling meaning.  But, what’s interesting is that when you look deeper at synonyms for the word change, some other words arise.  Adjustment and modification are expected, but look at some others such as, transformation, reconstruction, and metamorphosis!  My personal favorite happens to be metamorphosis.

Many of us have experienced sudden, unpredicted job loss either first-hand or through the people we know and love.  Job loss initially invokes (and rightfully so!) shock, fear, anxiety, and perhaps even loss and grief.  For those of us that put a lot of heart and soul into our work, it can even seem more unsettling.  Maybe we didn’t want to leave our job, perhaps we’ve developed an extended family in our workplace, and maybe, like many of us, we’re unprepared for the financial stresses associated with a sudden job loss.  Perhaps our confidence is shaken, and we feel we won’t find work again.  Well, I say two things about those thoughts. One, there is ALWAYS, ALWAYS work to be done in the world, so that statement is null and void. Second, try to let go (even a little bit) of those negative thoughts and take a little bit of time to focus on yourself. 


Below are some tips to help navigate the transition.

Then…let’s reflect on the word metamorphosis!


Give yourself a little break!  Take a little bit of time to let the shock, anger, and grief pass through. Maybe it’s a week, a few weeks, or a month.  Everyone is different, but also be aware that the longer the negative thoughts continue, the longer the change process will take.  I’ve seen people still not able to get past job loss years later, yes years!  Pay attention to your feelings, as they’re expected, but if you’re focusing on the negative for too long, it may be harder to reach something positive.


Get your ducks in a row.  Take some time to look at the actual “data” associated with your finances. Know money-wise, just what you need (need, not want!), to get through the next 1 -3 months.  And, you may have to consider forgoing that Grande Mocha Frappuccino with a double shot of espresso for just a bit.


Call in the troops! Now’s the time to not be shy and to let your network of friends, family, professional and personal acquaintances help you through the transition…the same as you would do for them.  Find “the doers” in your support group and not just the ones who will wallow with you in self-pity (although there’s a little place for them too, in small doses!) It’s amazing how much people want to assist others, so let others help!  And, they might even treat you to that occasional Grande Mocha Frappuccino with a double shot of espresso!


Develop an action plan. Do you need a resume or CV updated? When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? Have job search and online applications changed since the last time you looked for a position? Probably! Take some time to update your professional resources and then develop a realistic plan of how many positions you will apply for daily/weekly.  Job searching today needs to be targeted and tailored, so don’t just be willy nilly and apply for anything and everything out of panic.  Those types of job searches rarely are productive.


Make some time for self-care. Although the initial desire may be to avoid people, the gym or even the mirror…keep some of your daily routines.  Get up at a regular time, open the blinds, get dressed for the day (get out of those pity party jammies, as appealing as they may seem!), hit the gym, and spend some time talking to people throughout the day.  If you don’t have a defined routine because work and personal life took precedence, now may be the time to start one, and focus on YOU!  Grab a buddy and go for a hike, take that yoga or spinning class you’ve been considering.  Getting some exercise helps oxygenate the brain and you’ll think clearer.


Reflect on the word metamorphosis and what it could mean for you! Think about the possibilities of what “work” could look like next year at this time.  Will you return to school and be a student again?  Could you be in a whole new industry or even a different part of the country… or world!  Perhaps you’ll come to the realization that your last position was holding you back from pursuing other amazing opportunities.  I’ve seen people transform their lives in new, unexpected ways, so give yourself permission to consider the possibilities!


Caterpillars, those weird, furry, little creatures don’t wake up one day and say, “Yeah, I just don’t feel like changing today”.  Their change happens regardless, and the result is spectacular to say the least. Job loss is change.  Change is metamorphosis.  Metamorphosis is a spectacular process.  Face it…embrace it…and you may soon be pleasantly surprised at what emerges!


by Christine Demcie