Look for the silver lining.
Losing your job can seem like the end of the world. You might feel disbelief, anger, sadness, uncertainty, fear – even panic – and these are all normal emotions given the circumstances.
Then, add the context of the holidays -- an already stressful time of year, and it might be enough to put you over the edge. You might be overcome with swirling thoughts of your significant other planning holiday parties, your parents coming to visit, or the letters to Santa that were just sent in the mail.
You might not even want to celebrate at all.
“Why me, why now?” you ask.
Many companies decide to make structural or personnel changes before the end of the year for financial reasons. It doesn’t make it right or pleasant.
The truth is the reason for your termination – if you’re given one – doesn’t ultimately matter. What counts is how to deal with this life change that has been thrust upon you. You can get stuck in pity or you can do what you can to move forward with optimism.
Here are 10 things you can do to effectively deal with your job loss and enjoy the holiday season, too:
1. Allow yourself time to grieve.
A loss is a loss. I’ve had clients tell me that it can be more devastating than a death in the family because it takes a hit to your ego. Losing your job can cause you to doubt your abilities and put you on shaky ground for the next opportunity.
Sometimes I see clients jump right into job search mode and they’re not ready; they haven’t dealt with their loss. I don’t suggest taking off too much time, but certainly, a few days or weeks to decompress is healthy and wise.
Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up for you. Recognize that you won’t feel these things forever and you are not alone. If you take some time to grieve the loss of your job, your future in that organization, and your colleagues, you’ll be on the path to healing.
Hold onto the positive experiences you had. In time, the negative ones will become a distant memory. Most of all, give yourself some compassion.
2. Stick to a routine.
Resist any urge to stay in bed all day. Get up at your regular time and create a routine for yourself. Block off time to relax, eat and sleep on a consistent schedule, and go to the gym as usual.
Make sure that you dedicate time each day for your career transition efforts, which might include reflecting on your strengths and ideal job, and marketing yourself.
3. Focus on your self-care.
Take this time to do things for yourself that you might not normally do. Read a book, indulge in a nap, get a massage or acupuncture treatment. It’s also important to eat well and take some extra supplements to boost your ability to manage your stress.
Go to the doctor for your overdue physical and attend to your mental health, too. Let your doctor know if you’re having trouble adjusting and it’s interfering with your ability to function.
4. Keep the lines of communication open with your loved ones.
Share your news with those closest to you. I’ve heard stories of newly terminated employees dressing up, leaving the house every day, and pretending they are going to work because they are dreading telling their family.
There is no shame in job loss.
You partner will undoubtedly have their reaction to your job loss, and it’s normal for them to have insecurities around it. In a time of feeling loss of control, what you can control is what and how you tell your family. Let them know that you’re getting support – perhaps severance, benefit continuance, and outplacement services – and that you can work through this challenging time together. It may turn out to be a bonding opportunity for your relationship.
Resist the urge to shelter your kids, also. Show your humanity to them and teach then about bouncing back and solving problems.
Gradually widen your circle over the coming weeks. Don’t hesitate to gently redirect overbearing yet well-meaning relatives yet tap into them when you can. You’ll be bound to find others who have found themselves in similar circumstances and you’ll realize you’re not alone.
People have a natural inclination to help, too, so when you’re ready, take them up on their offers.
5. Be practical about your spending.
With holiday gift-giving on the horizon, it’s best to take a balanced approach. Don’t go overboard, trying to prove that you’re going to be all right and don’t be a Scrooge, either, catastrophizing about your financial situation. Give yourself a spending budget and get creative to make your dollars go farther.
Above all, remember that the holidays are about spending time with loved ones and experiencing joy and gratitude for what all you have.
6. Get some perspective.
It may seem like forced time off to lose your job, but you can use this time to take a step back and look at your situation with fresh eyes. Get into nature, go near a body of water, or climb up a hill or mountain – a little height can give you a view from a new angle.
Often it helps to speak with someone objective about your situation and realize that your situation is not as bad as you think. You have something distinct to offer an employer and the world.
7. Reach out for help.
Consult a lawyer to ensure your severance terms are fair and reasonable given all the circumstances. And, don’t overlook your financial health and benefit coverage. Enlist the services of an advisor to make sure you feel secure during your transition to new work.
If you haven’t been offered corporate outplacement services, consider hiring a career coach to jump start your job search process or asking a mentor for assistance. An accountability partner can work with you to uncover your strengths, open up new possibilities for your career, keep you on track with your goals, and shift your mindset.
8. Regroup and retool.
Now is the time to position yourself for the January rush of job postings. Take the next few weeks to come up with a game plan instead of sending out 100 resumes. Let’s face it, putting in a solid application takes a lot of time and effort. Make sure you’re applying to the right roles in the right organizations or you’ll get disappointing results.
Success often means digging deep, connecting to your inner wisdom, looking back at your life’s lessons, and projecting forward. Focus on what you love, what’s important to you, and what you can contribute and then create a crystal-clear vision of your future work. Only when you do this will you be in a good position to market yourself and your resume.
9. Celebrate the holidays.
Enjoy the beauty of the season, doing all the things you usually do. Sip eggnog by a fire, go ice skating or snowboarding. Indulge in sappy holiday movies, play a game of dreidel, hold a holiday yule log celebration, or light some candles. Belt out Christmas carols, or just sing -- it is scientifically proven to lift your spirits, any time of year!
Most of all, spend time with your loved ones over the holidays and see the magic through a child’s eyes.
10. Stay positive.
You have a lot to bring to a new job and you’ll find that this period is just a blip in your overall career. If you’re having trouble believing this just now, write out some affirmations and keep saying them until you can trust it’s true.
Here’s the glimmer of hope in your job loss: you’re free! You’re available to reflect on what you want and take your career in a new and improved direction.
If you do these 10 things, you’ll not only have a much better holiday season, but you’ll be ready to land a more exciting job with a better fit, working with like-minded people in an organization much more aligned with your values.
Don’t look back. A bright light is on the horizon.
Lisa Petsinis is a Certified Human Resources Leader, Certified Career and Life Coach, and Certified Career Development Specialist. A recovered HR Director, she works with individuals to manage the stress of job loss and find a career and life they love. Visit her website to learn more about her services, sign up for her newsletter, or contact her for a complimentary call so you can jumpstart your career transition starting today.