Looking Ahead: Take that First Step Towards a Concrete Future

Unconsciously or subconsciously, a number of unproductive attitudes and behaviors commonly surface after a job loss. Here's what to do to avoid getting stuck in negativity.

Jolanta Jonaszko
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Job loss can be a traumatic experience. It’s important to move forward, but all too-human emotions can get in the way and make the letting-go part so hard to let go of. Unconsciously or subconsciously, a number of unproductive attitudes and behaviors commonly result:

  • Denial, a feeling that the company will change its mind 
  • Nostalgia, a feeling that your job was an ideal, that you will never achieve as much 
  • Avoidance, an inability to confront what you need to do next

These are all, clearly, coping mechanisms but ones with serious drawbacks. Indecision, poor prioritization, resistance to opportunity (denial); excessive retrospection, self-flagellation, paralyzing idealization (nostalgia); and procrastination, passivity, indifference about the future as well as the past (distancing) are all dangers when faced with job loss.

What do you do? How do you lift yourself out of despair and uncertainty? Begin with a self-assessment. Examine your thinking and make a conscious effort to focus on the positive. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Are you obsessing over writing your resume? Do you focus only on your weaknesses? It is probably the mechanism of avoidance switching itself on. Are you overcome by cynicism or self-doubt? It could be denial at work. As for nostalgia, do you remember only the good of your last position? Are you unable to even look ahead, do you catch yourself thinking about the past much more often than about the future?

Once you’ve assessed your current thinking, act to try and put the past behind you. Set a goal of applying for three jobs in three successive days, this will “force” you to look ahead and think constructively, it will gradually become a habit and result in more well-being, as well. You may create a LinkedIn profile that highlights your professional strengths, this will make you think about the resources you carry with you. And build your network by contacting people who know your work (clients, colleagues) for advice, you will be surprised by all the positive feedback that will come your way! The imperative is to look ahead. There are a lot of things you can’t control, but you can control your attitude and, to a certain degree, your thinking and that’s the most important step in mastering change.

About the Author

Jolanta Jonaszko holds a Bachelor degree in Modern Languages and Literature from Oxford University and a Master Degree in European and Russian Studies from Yale University. After graduation, she worked in a communication consultancy IFOK specializing in the design and facilitation of dialogue processes, among others for the German government. Since 2014, Jolanta has worked as a senior consultant at LHH focusing on career transition, change and talent management. Her debut memoir, “Without Grandpa,” was published in 2018 in Poland and received outstanding reviews. Jolanta is currently working on a new book, “Miniatures of Change,” which shares poignant stories from her work helping people through job loss. Connect with Jolanta on LinkedIn.

 
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