We can't control change, but we can live with it

Career Corner

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In the movie The Company Men, three well-educated men’s lives changed dramatically after they were unexpectedly fired from their jobs through a series of company-wide downsizings. They were committed, dedicated, hard-working and “loyal company men” and felt secure in their respective positions.

The men were suddenly faced with being unemployed and forced to adapt to both unexpected changes in their lives. Pat Riley, Miami Heat president, once said, “The changes in your life aren’t always the ones you hoped for. But they can usually help you grow.”

Surviving job loss requires having the ability to adapt to changes outside of your control while recognizing the impact of these changes. Allow yourself to grieve about losing your job. Individuals who have gone through job loss often experience Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief: denial, bargaining, depression, anger and acceptance. Sometimes, the five stages are described as shock, fear, anger and blame, shame and despair.

The three men dealt with their job loss differently. In addition, they also encountered what is known as “the ripple effect” of job loss. This type of setback can have positive or negative effects on a person’s life. The first man struggled with giving up the façade of appearing successful, and had to move his family into his parents’ home.

The second man chose to isolate himself, was confronted with ageism, and felt pressured by his wife, who was more concerned about keeping up the appearance of being employed.

And the third man left his unhappy marriage, and dissolved his relationship with his longtime friend/boss.

Understand, the only changes you have control of are those changes you are willing to make in yourself. In the words of Wayne Dyer, “Assume … control of your own life, be independent of other people’s opinions and make as many important decisions for yourself as possible.”

My acronym for C.H.A.N.G.E. is Choices, Habits, Accomplishments, Needs, Goals and Effort.

What are some of the consequences of your choices? What are some of the habits that you need to discard? What are some of your current accomplishments? What are some of your immediate needs? What goals have you set for yourself? How much effort are you willing to exert to regaining control of your life? Do you have what it takes to reinvent yourself after an unexpected job loss and change?


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