Career changes can either be at our behest or thrust upon us. In either case, they can be upsetting. Unwelcome career changes require different coping strategies than changes that are intentional and planned.

Unwelcome Job Loss

In today’s world of pandemic and social distancing, some people are dealing with the sudden loss of a job and face an uncertain future. This kind of unwelcome change can set off a series of difficult emotions related to feeling betrayed and diminished. All the self-help books say that the best antidote is to accept the new circumstances and move on as soon as possible. But how exactly?

As I review my history of unwelcome career changes, the only process that seems to work for me is to acknowledge that at first, I find the change unacceptable. I then give myself time to stew about it, trying not to beat myself up. Eventually, I know that time and patience will get me to the point where I can face my new reality. It is only then that I can begin to think about how to create a new future. At this stage, the real challenge with unwelcome job loss is how to get creative about identifying a new assignment that will pay the bills and be satisfying.

Creativity requires a sense of safety that allows for exploring ideas beyond our experience. That is elusive when you are worried about the next mortgage payment. I find that reviewing those times in my history that looked like I was doomed can be strangely helpful. In every case, the story has continued in ways not always expected, but ultimately successful. I managed to right the ship. Reminding myself of my resilience often generated the energy to think creatively about my next step.

Working From a Home Office

These days of lockdown, virtual meetings, and working from home are unfamiliar, especially at the beginning. Setting up a functioning home office, making sure your kids don’t invade a high-level budget meeting on Zoom, and creating a daily structure at home can be daunting. But ultimately, most of us figure it out and soldier on. For some, there is a nagging feeling that the job isn’t the right one. One of the major enemies of moving beyond an unsatisfying career is the power of habit. Monday staff meetings, Tuesday go the gym before work, Wednesday remember to take out the trash…it can all become a blur until something like the virus shakes up the routine.

So, if you see the shutdown as a time to plan a change, then start the process. Use your unwelcome job loss or alteration in your work environment to find a more satisfying position. Clarify for yourself the characteristics of an ideal job and start talking to the people who know a little more about that position than you do. Things are changing quickly in our world, and we all face uncertainty, but your job satisfaction is essential. A career coach can help you sort out the real priorities in job choices.

Peter Sherer is a nationally recognized career coach who offers clarity and confidence to mid-career and senior executives in transition. In just two short days, his rigorous assessment tools enable his clients to identify a meaningful assignment that uses all of their skills and experience. Learn more and get in touch with Peter today.