What To Do If You Lose Your Job

With a looming (or existing?) recession and massive layoffs in Canada and the U.S. it’s hard to get into that TGIM (thank goodness it’s Monday) mode these days. Just ask the 71,000 Canadians and the hundreds of thousands of U.S workers who have lost their jobs this fall.

Losing a job is tough.  I’d never make light of that kind of disappointment nor the challenges that come with it. For so many of us, work is about much more than a way to earn a living (albeit that’s a huge motivation too!). It’s a way to express ourselves in the world. Whether or not you see work as a job, career or calling – losing your job can be a very challenging set-back.

 When we lose our ‘work’ – we sometimes lose that sense of self and confidence.  With no where to go Monday morning (or any other day)  we sometimes question our value.

BUT STOP!!! Don’t let that happen! That kind of thinking will dig you into an even deeper hole. While job loss is one of life’s more stressful events — it’s critically important to focus on your resiliency, optimism and your resourcefulness.


STRATEGY #1: Take stock of all your strengths, gifts, talents, accomplishments . Sure  you know you’ve got great stuff going on — but somehow that awareness is now lost somewhere under the surface. It’s easy to forget when you are so profoundly aware of the challenges of being without work. So it’s time to get very conscious and intentional about remembering who you are:

A key over-riding principle here is to make sure you do NOT lose yourself and your sense of identity. 

 Make a list (literally – write it out) of everything you can think of that you have going for you. Reflect on your experiences within your work-life as well as other facets (volunteer, personal, etc). Write out your skills, strengths, talents, assets, accomplishments, etc.. For instance: Are you great at building and keeping relationships?  Are you trustworthy and dependable? Are you a great negotiator? What evidence in terms of achievements back this up? What about your network – friends, business associates? Are you connected to others that might prove helpful (see tip on networking)

Don’t skimp out on this list! At first go – it might be hard to remember all you have….but keep at it. This list help you in more ways than you think.

i)) It will literally boost your mood. Focusing on positive memories and reflection can actually can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and elevate your mood. It ignites a chemical reaction and let’s face it, anything that boosts your mojo will only help you stay resilient and focused as you navigate your next steps.

 ii)) It will serve to provide the data you will need to update your resume and to generally tell your story as you explore future opportunities. At some point, you are going to have to get out there and market yourself. Resumes, networking, job interviews, etc, etc. The more clear you are on your own story – the better you will be able to tell it….with confidence and authenticity.

Keep that list alive….this isn’t a one-shot deal: review your list frequently….update it…..and somehow, make it part of your routine so that you stay closely attuned to who you are.

STRATEGY#2:  Get out of the house — both socially and work-wise. It can be tempting to stay in when you are feeling low. A recent study found that people who lose their jobs sometimes retreat from their communities. This is not going to help you. Get out of the house —  network, engage — you never know who will have a lead for another job. Participating in volunteer and social activities will also do you good — keep you engaged and that is good for your your mojo (emotional energy). Staying home is not!!

STRATEGY#3: Speaking of networking….Don’t go this alone. Tap into your network and/or build your network:  Your network will be one of your important assets. You’ll need it for job leads, morale support, social diversion.  So, how is your network? Don’t despair if it’s not what you’d like it to be. You can build it.

Soooo….make another list…Who do you know? Who do you need/want to know? Who knows who…..??

STRATEGY#4: Get the right support you need to get through this. Whether you need tips on resume writing, networking, re-tooling your skills, etc.  For instance, does your community have a group for folks who are job-seeking? Are there local seminars offered at community centres? What about your professional associations…?. Perhaps you have resources to hire professional services (coach, counsellor, other)…or maybe your firm has provided outplacement services, if so, take advantage of whatever you can.

STRATEGY #5: Walk your dog even if you don’t have one! Get some exercise, fresh air….get on the court (if you play sports:)….do anything to keep your health and physical energy up. This is another strategy to boost those endorphines that can be mojo-enhancers (and it’s legal!).

MORE….there’s lots more, but let’s start with these. I’d love to hear from you and share your suggestions with others. I’m sure you’ve got lots of great tips…we want to hear!

And finally – as I mentioned in an earlier post, remember, this time too shall pass…..there will be good times ahead. Don’t lose sight of that….keep your eye on the horizon and on the present….. to do what you need to do for today…and tomorrow…onwards to a TGIM worklife.


To being resilient, optimistic, resourceful….to a TGIM Worklife!



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