What to Do After Losing Your Job so You Don’t Lose Your Cool, Too

What to Do After Losing Your Job so You Don’t Lose Your Cool, Too
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If you’re laid off or fired, you can feel like your world is ending. To be sure, a not-insignificant part of your life did just come to its conclusion, and that is terrifying. You can grapple with concerns over your finances — which then extend to concerns over your housing, food, healthcare, education, and leisure activities — as well as concerns over your identity.

But before you do anything else, start here:

Remember who you are, besides an employee

As soon as you get let go from your job, you are disconnected from part of your identity, so to ground yourself, remember that there are many other facets to who you are besides Employee of Some Company, Inc.

Reorient yourself and hype yourself up by opening your notes app (or getting out a real pen and paper) and listing all of the things you still are. You might be a parent, a sibling, a best friend, a woodworking hobbyist, an amateur sommelier, a romance novel connoisseur, a quick thinker, a compassionate listener, a morning-time runner…the point is, you are all kinds of things and the best parts of each bit of you are going to help propel you out of the post-job funk.

Go back over your list. Which of the things you jotted down will be an immediate help to you? Let those become your mantras. If you wrote down that you’re resourceful, repeat that to yourself when you start looking for networking opportunities. If you wrote down that you’re determined, say that over and over while you fill out job applications. Did you say you were pragmatic? Keep that in mind if you don’t land an interview right away, because you know you’re far from the only person looking for work out there.

Revamp your budget

No matter how many positive affirmations you repeat all day long, you won’t completely eradicate the stress that comes with not only losing a big part of your schedule structure, but your financial stability, too. Even if you had other little gigs or side hustles outside of your job, the simple fact is that temporarily, you’re just not earning what you were earning before.

Log into your online banking platform and look at your checking account, then open up a spreadsheet program on your computer. Start by listing every expense that was deducted from your total in the past month: Rent, haircuts, streaming subscriptions, coffee runs, dog toys, new clothes, art supplies for your kid’s science fair project. In a column next to each expense, mark down what it cost. Now, start reorganising your spreadsheet into more columns. In the first one, list the things that are absolutely essential. In the next one, list things you don’t need but that bring you joy. In the final one, add the expenses that were not necessary. In other words, put down all the stuff you can really do without, at least for now.

Take some time and assess your columns honestly. You’ll probably move a few things around the deeper you consider them. Tally up what each column’s deductions cost. The total of that first section is what you need to survive. The total of that second section is what you can consider a bonus, hope to make, and can spend if the first column is fulfilled. For now, axe all of the expenses in the last column.

Budget for savings, too, especially if you’re getting some kind of severance. Your company should have been clear with you about whether you are getting severance or any other payment when they terminated you, but if they weren’t, email your human resources representative.

Be sure to read up on your rights, apply for unemployment benefits if you qualify, and check out your health insurance options. All of this can be done within the first few days of losing your job and it will make you feel better just to get started.

Consider new career options

For whatever reason, your old job didn’t work out. Even if you loved it, someone with decision-making power made the choice to remove you from it, which can hurt, but can also be a reminder that everyone has different skills, needs, and ambitions. You can use this opportunity to hone in on what yours are, even if you’re rushing just to get back on a payroll somewhere.

For the first few days, you might want to wallow in sadness and apply to all kinds of jobs to see if anything sticks. That’s totally fine. Securing income and health insurance will remove a lot of your stress. Still, you should also use this time to connect with what you really want. Ponder how you were feeling at the job that let you go. Were you at your dream company, working in your dream industry? That answer can change day to day as you get deeper into unemployment and go through stages of grief — one day you might you miss your job, while the next day you’re filled with anger just at the thought of it.

Take a career aptitude test online. There are a bunch of free ones out there, and while no Internet quiz is going to magically or definitively tell you what you should do with your life, even answering the questions can help you figure out what you’d like to pursue in the future. Seek out a mentor, too — reach out to people in your industry you admire to ask for advice.

And don’t lose sight of the fact that things will get better.

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