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Follow tips to cope with involuntary change

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You are familiar with the saying "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Recently I watched Up In The Air, starring George Clooney, who portrayed a person working for a career-transition firm and responsible for firing others as he traveled around the world. I was taken aback as I noticed the people targeted for firing had two things in common: their ages and the length of years spent in their jobs/careers. They were baby boomers.

Born between the years of 1946 and 1964, baby boomers were considered the generation with access to more opportunities and advantages than any generation before them.

In the 1970s, older boomers were successful in pursuing and establishing their careers. We younger baby boomers found ourselves in the midst of two recessions -- 1971-1975 and 1981-1982 -- trying to decide what we wanted to do with our lives.

In the early '90s and 2000s, this generation experienced two more brief recessions.

Now, in 2010, boomers are seeing and experiencing the effects of the recession of 2007. They are forced to face career issues such as abilities and job performance, age discrimination, health concerns and retirement. On the surface it might appear that the opportunities and advantages once identified for this generation are gone.

After watching the movie and reflecting on the current economy, I decided this article would focus on strategies to help boomers who are interested in re-evaluating and reinventing themselves in the midst of job loss, unplanned change or retirement.

It is normal to experience psychological effects from job loss, which can be overwhelming. Acknowledge your emotions and seek support from family, friends and, if you become depressed, a counselor. Next, review your financial situation and tally your immediate resources, such as cash on hand and severance and unemployment pay. develop a job search plan and Dommit to it each day. Also seek help from your state department or labor or other organizations.

If you are making an unplanned career change, it is important to re-examine your interests, skills, values and passions. Ask others for feedback about your skills and talents.

Writing is an excellent tool for dealing with unplanned career change. It can help you move forward by forcing you to deal with career issues you have avoided addressing that might have kept you stuck in an undesirable or stressful career. As a boomer, you understand what it means to be resilient.

If you are considering retiring, I strongly recommend that you participate in retirement counseling. Preretirement programs provide assistance in projecting pensions and other future benefits when you have reached retirement age. If you are still employed, I would recommend that you ask your human resources department about any planning services for individuals approaching retirement. Better now than later.

Debbie Walker, a mental health therapist and certified career coach who runs Debbie Walker LPC in Martinez, can be reached at (706) 504-4063.


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