Select the right words. Say them well.

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Fired? Retired? Sick of your current job? Looking at a new opportunity? I’ve written about this topic before and I have some new thoughts for anyone beginning the new year with a new chapter in their life. This time can be challenging because you have (at least) two fronts you are dealing with: the way people have known you is now changing and the story you are comfortable telling needs to change. Let me address both fronts and provide some perspective that may be helpful for you or someone you know.

Start NOW preparing how you will tell your story: Your colleagues and potential future employers/partners/clients will take a cue from you on how to view your current situation. If you paint a woeful picture, that’s what they’ll see. If you express excitement and some detailed thought, they’ll be more likely to catch your enthusiasm and ride the wave with you. Look at these quotes and predict where the conversation will lead:
“It’s so hard to get people to return my calls and I hate asking for help.”
“This all came at the right time because I was ready for a change.”
“I feel overwhelmed because I’ve never done this before.”
“It’s so exciting to finally be in charge of my own direction.”
The same person could deliver all these messages. You get to decide.

Get some outside perspective: When an unexpected job loss or change takes place you often can feel a bit lost. Sometimes a friend or colleague can remind you about your value and talents because you have limited perspective. Consider writing or having someone else write a bio for you. This is not a resume, but a narrative paragraph or two that tells your story. I’ve done this for several close friends, and it has proven valuable.

You are not alone: Transitioning from busy work life to the quiet of your new life can be a bit unnerving. The isolation can result in feelings of loneliness and depression because you’re sure you are the only one in this situation. Quite the contrary. Search out groups like a ministry I lead at a local church. We provide career assistance and a place to come to be with others who are facing the same situation. The fellowship alone has proved to be especially valuable.

Only after time passes do you know if something is really ‘bad news’: Someone I helped a couple of years back was crushed when they received word they had been fired. They couldn’t imagine worse news. Fast forward two years and they now look upon that day very differently. They now see it as the door that opened which led to a new, higher paying job and a much less stressful work situation. Imagine that. What was once seen as terrible news was actually the change that needed to happen to start a new, much better chapter!

During your down time pick up a new skill: Workers at every level should always be learners and everyone loves to hire someone who is a learner. Instead of saying you spent the last two months watching Netflix you are much better served talking about the new skill you’ve learned.

Change happens. It’s what you do with it that matters.