It may be cruel, but it is not illegal. Being fired, laid off, or just having the company close its doors during the holiday season is not new, and is unfortunately becoming more common. Everyone around seems to be in the holiday spirit, except for those to whom the season is just another drain on diminishing resources and loss of dignity.
Practical Steps to Dealing With the Loss of Job and Loss of Dignity
First of all, stop playing the “what if” game. It’s doubtful any employee could have truly predicted when the axe would fall. Stop blaming self and/or others. It’s a waste of personal energy and time, when efforts need to be conserved for the rocky road ahead. No sugar plum coating here – this is a tough time, and those without work have a rough road ahead. This does not mean one can’t mourn or grieve or rail at the powers that be. Do it to get it over with – and move on. They aren’t worth the energy, but it is worth it to get those feelings out and to move forward. Don’t forget, don’t attach blame (especially to self), and don’t waste time.
Now it’s time to take a hard look at personal economics. What’s the lifestyle, what are the debts and/or assets, any savings? Yes, it will take awhile to get another job. So start economizing now. Consolidate loans if at all possible so there is only one payment to worry about. Decide what the family or lifestyle can cut down on. Do not immediately cut off all treats – this will only make everyone feel miserable. But there’s lots that can be cut down on that is certainly not really going to be missed. Those morning lattes are a treat, not a necessity. Brew a cuppa at home, and take in a nice thermos to have that needed caffeine. Or even make hot chocolate! While this doesn’t sound like much, the money NOT spent on coffee out is a great savings.
Cut Down Expenses – Open Up to Networking Possibilities
The tendency is to splurge on gifts when the money is tight, kind of a “if I spend the money, maybe I really will have it” thinking. Don’t do it. Keep all gifts practical and at a minimum. Explain to family the situation – less now, so more later. Immediate family should know about the job loss, and anyone else that might help. Not just for financial reasons, but for any networking possibilities. This is not the time to feel shy about the situation. Be open to all potential possibilities.
Cut down on household and car expenses. Take the bus when possible; try to consolidate car trips. These are not new ideas, but most don’t bother to follow these simple tips even in the best of times. Turn off lights and unplug computers/stereos when not in use – it’s amazing how much electricity can be saved with this simple action.
More importantly though, is to keep up personal health – both physical and mental/spirit. Most people think there is something wrong with themselves – they lost the job and have difficulty getting another one. The market is tight all over, and employers can take their time to find the exact fit for the position.
Be Prepared – Take Care of Personal Health – Physical and Emotional/Mental
Be prepared for the long haul. Get into a routine right away – set aside time each day for job searching. This may include updating a resume and cover letters; finding references; and even investigating upgrading training and education, or a second (or third or fourth) career choices. Set up a weekly schedule, with wiggle room for interviews and anything else that may come up. Looking for work IS a full time job!
Ensure time is set each day/week for physical activity. Join a community centre for fitness – there are many programs offered free. Invest in good running shoes/boots and go for a walk every day. Instead of going out to dinner and a movie for entertainment, create a new meal and play a board game – there are so many fun choices to choose from. Invite friends over to join – have each person bring something and create a great pot luck dinner. Do this in a round robin routine – little cost for all involved, and a lot of fun.
Realize Each Person is More Than Just a Job
This is the time to be with people. The job is lost, but each person really is more than just the job. Yes, it will take time and effort to find employment. Realize it is not anyone’s fault; and it’s ok to ask for help – even just to talk about what happened and how it feels. Realize the contributions made on a daily basis to those around – family, friends, co workers, and just the world around. That’s what counts.
Loss of job does not mean, and should not mean, loss of dignity. Look to cutting expenses while setting a routine for finding work. Be open to all possibilities. Just get out and be with people – that’s the best networking there is – both for personal self-worth and potential jobs. Most important, don’t attach blame to self. Keep the dignity, lose the doubts.