You may have lost a job recently, or been laid off of a job that you’ve held for many years. The first couple of days may seem OK, but then the reality hits you in the forehead, like an arrow hitting the bull’s eye. However you ended up on the wrong end of the realm of employment–you’re there, and you may feel very isolated, alone and unwanted.
Please know, first, that you are not the first to feel this way, and you won’t be the last. I know, that’s cold comfort when you have bills to pay and self esteem to restore. But it may be that, whether you were laid off because of the economy or office politics–however you got here, you can get out.
And you can get out by finding another job–yes, a job to tide you over may be the ticket. But this new status, unemployed, can turn into self-employed once you get your bearings. Sure, go out and take a job for the cash–not a career move, just a “plain old job.” And during the time that you’re doing this job (and we should always do whatever job we do to the best of our abilities–we owe it to our bosses, but even more–to ourselves)–but during the period of time that you’re working at something that doesn’t thrill you–that doesn’t utilize your talents, education or passion–you can spend your nights, weekends and other free time reinventingyourself.
I maintain that necessity is the Mother of Reinvention. This new place in your life is supposed to make you feel rotten: unemployment or underemployment is designed to bash self esteem, and make us feel lousy about ourselves. But we can be conquerors, and refuse to accept that social stigma. Whether you remain unemployed for a while, or get a job that has nothing to do with your dreams and goals–you can use that time–the time that you’d otherwise use that fine brain of yours at your previous career–you can use that time to think, truly, deeply, think about what you want to do next.
It may not seem like there is a Next–but there is. And “the beauty part of it,” as my late, great Uncle Ed would say–is that this time, you can be the captain of your ship.
Take a few minutes to sit down with yourself. Cup of coffee or tea, a nice quiet place where you feel safe and nurtured. Hopefully your cat or dog is there, looking up at you with the eyes of love. OK–got the scene? You’re in a safe place, and you are prepared to map out the next step in your Life.
And that step can turn into The Best Thing that’s ever happened to you–because you are deciding the course that’s sailed by your ship. With that piece of paper and pen in-hand, make a list on the left side of the paper. This list can be exhaustive, for it should be a litany of all the fine things that you love about yourself. Talents, gifts, abilities, personality traits–everything that you find to be wonderful about yourself, maybe even things that you’d feel silly telling someone else.
Now, on the right side of the paper, think about professions–vocations–jobs that you’ve found to be interesting over the years. It needn’t be a long list, it can be that one or two things have always caught your eye or ear. You’ve read something, or heard something, or thought, “I could do that…” in passing.
Compare these two lists. The list on the right is a destination where your journey may take you: the list on the left is all the vehicles that can get you there.
Do you dare to dream? Did the loss of your job or career make you feel that all your dreams are gone? They’re not gone, they’re only as far away as your belief in yourself. If you can conceive of a new vocation–if you can see yourself in it, doing it/creating it/selling it/promoting it–then you can do it. A dream is a goal that’s still stuck in our heads and hearts–and needs only a push to get out into the “real” world, and become reality.
I know, you’re going to say that it takes money, or it takes this, or that, and you don’t have all the tools.
The thing is…if you really want something, your imagination will bring you to the place you need to be to make it happen. Whether you decide to volunteer at a museum, or “just try your hand” at something–if you desire something with your very being, and believe in yourself–you can bring it to the surface, thence, to reality. There may be a vocation out there, waiting to be claimed by you–and maybe that job that you just lost kept you too busy to pursue it. Imagine that: you lost one job (and yes, the “security” that went with it) — but maybe you needed to lose one thing in order to gain something far-greater.
Would you not rather have a vocation, your own business, or to embrace your creative self–rather than working for someone else whom, we discovered–didn’t appreciate you, anyway? If you and your wonderful talents had been truly appreciated, you wouldn’t be non-employed today. But maybe, just maybe, in The Big Picture–you had to lose that job so that you could go on this journey of self-discovery.
Yes, the next few months may be difficult: you may have to be on unemployment, or borrow money from a family member or friend. You may go through a rough time–but please know that there are scores of us out there who’ve experienced the same, and we empathize. And that we want you to succeed–but not succeed according to the yardstick that someone else hands you–your success should be measured by what you want to do with your Life.
At some time in your Life, before you had that job that took up so much time, and now has mercifully released you–before that job, you had a dream. Or you thought that, if you had the time and energy–you’d follow a dream. Now is the time, this is the place. Pick up your pen, assess your talents and desires, and create a roadmap to your new vocation.
Some people find their bliss by accident: they’re walking along one day, and it just appears to them on a billboard. This is not the case for 99% of us. Most of us find our bliss by looking at ourselves, and at what worked in the past–and by what didn’t. Take what worked, add that to the mix of your talents and dreams–and you can create a unique Life path, a career/vocation that you, and you alone, can offer the world.
You may offer a service, like hand-sewn articles. Or you may be an artist who never mustered the guts to admit that you’re very good, and should be paid to paint. Whatever your talents, whatever your dream–there’s a job there, one that you can create for yourself. That person who fired or laid you off may have been doing “just business,” or they may really have hoped that you’d land not on your feet. Whether they had intentions actually to harm you or not–they did not. They cannot. They do not have the ability to destroy your Life–but you–you have the ability to create a Life, a profession so singularly wonderful that you’ll wonder why you ever even went to that old job in the first place.
Follow your dream. Reinvent yourself. Whether you’re 19 or 99, Life can become what you want–what you dream, hope and desire. You have all the tools you need to create the map to your treasure–for your treasure is you, and your gift to the world is that you can–and will–find a beautiful new service to give the world. The world may not heretofore realized that it needed what you have to offer–but once they get a look at it, and you–they won’t be able to resist.
It’s almost impossible to resist a person who’s confident: for one thing, those who aren’t confident wonder how you got that way. And they want to feel the same way about themselves. Once you map your journey, and find your treasure within–your vocation, your reinvented career–will emerge. You’ll exude confidence, and others will be compelled to do business with you, if for no other reason than that they are attracted to your confidence.
And that confidence can come only from within. Those who’ve drawn their own map–rather than being at the mercy of a foreign cartographer–are confident, for they know that even stormy seas can be ridden out. Once you find your reinvented career, those seas won’t be a threat–because you wrote your own map, and you know the route better than anyone in the world.
Reinvention is the key to overcoming the sadness that unemployment thrusts on us. Reinvention of a career comes from acknowledging the goodness that conventional bosses may have overlooked: but you are acutely aware of your own goodness, your own value. And, as a reinvented professional, you are now your own boss–a boss who’s predisposed to believe in you, at all times and in all places.
Create your map. Chart your course. Believe in your dreams–then, go forth, and conquer!