Many people believe that job losses are like earthquakes and computer meltdowns. It's not “if" the Big One is coming. It's when. Most of us don't anticipate these crises and even the smartest professionals can be caught unprepared and off guard.
Sometimes you decide it's time for a change. More often, your career crisis comes from your environment: job loss, restructuring, bizarre performance review, transfer, offer for a new job arriving out of the blue.
As with any crisis, the first few minutes are most important. When someone has a heart attack, they need medical attention within minutes. When your car has a flat tire, you have to get off the road safely.
But what's most important when you have a career crisis? Most of my clients are surprised at their own reactions. They hated the job. They really wanted this offer. But now that it's here, what's the next step?
Here are some steps that can guide you to safety and begin the process of transforming career breakdown to career breakthrough.
1. Discuss your resources with a qualified financial advisor.
Most people begin by asking, “Will I go broke?" Dealing with your fears and getting a reality check should be your very first step. Can you stretch your funds beyond six months? Equity loan? Brokerage margin loan? Short-term jobs?
Do not settle for amateur advice from a friend, neighbor or family member. Go to the experts.
2. Deal with the emotional side before you begin to rebuild your business or career.
Many people grieve lost careers, houses and cities - even those they hated the most. Clients often can't deal with career challenges till they've relieved the emotional pressures. Most need more than a friendly bartender and a kind family member.
3. Go slow!
Clients with a history of success want to move full speed ahead. They're eager to take action and get on with their lives. But now's the time to stop and take stock. Nearly everyone hits a panic button that ends up costing time and money.
Should you sell the house and move a tent in Wyoming? Should you sign up for a resume-blasting service? Join a program that costs in the middle five figures? Probably not, never and maybe later. . . but for now, take small steps. Think of dipping a toe into the water before plunging into the deep end.
4. Explore free or low-cost career resources.
Check out the Chamber of Commerce, your alumni career center, SCORE, and the unemployment office. If you have trouble staying focused or making a plan, paying your own career coach may be a good investment.
5. Do something fun at least once a day.
For some reason, this advice is hardest for my clients to accept. Take the dog to the park, eat an ice cream sundae, visit a museum. Malls and television are (usually) distracting but not satisfying.
Caution: If “fun" has gone from your life and your vocabulary see #2 - right away.
6. Get physical.
Walk, run, work out, play a sport every day. Exercise creates energy and keeps you healthy. I've gotten my best ideas while working out in the gym or walking the dog, often when I'm least in the mood to leave the house.
7. Get creative. Write, paint, take a ceramics or poetry class.
Creativity will be essential to your crisis transformation. You'll need out-of-the-box ideas when you plan your next step. Get the juices flowing. Creativity can also help jump-start your intuition - your best crisis management resource. See
Bonus tip: Above all, keep a journal. Life will look very different a year from now and you will be amazed how far you have come and how much you have learned.
About The Author
Cathy Goodwin, Ph. D. , is an author, speaker and career/business consultant, helping midlife professionals transform Career Breakdown to Career Breakthrough. http://www.cathygoodwin.com
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