Unemployed — or ready to launch?

Losing a job can lead to anger, resentment, guilt and depression.  I once worked with a gentleman who having lost his job, tried to reposition himself and do a job search, only to become discouraged after just a few days with no success.  Then he started hiding out from his wife, pretending to be doing a job search, while in reality he was going to the library to surf the Internet and read magazines.  He consoled himself in fast food and high sugar snacks and quickly added about 25 pounds.  This, in turn, made him self-conscious about his weight and ill-fitting clothes.  “I hated my job, but am still angry about being let go,” he said.

This story is not unusual.  New research confirms that losing a job can put people at an elevated risk for emotional and physical problems.  Unemployment can start a vicious cycle of depression, loss of personal discipline and decreased emotional health.  “Depression can contribute to much longer searches,” notes John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Failure in a business, the dissolution of a relationship, a breakdown of health, or a financial disaster can also be a set-up for these negative, self-defeating feelings.  Any of these situations can make a person a candidate for the downward spiral of anger, resentment, guilt and depression.

Negative attitudes will keep you living in your loss – rather than moving toward new gain.

To break the cycle, take charge of the areas where you can experience immediate success. 

Five Tips to Break the Cycle of Losing:

     1.  Start with doing what you can to stay sharp physically. If that’s walking two miles a day, then start with that.  Notice the birds, children, trees and sky as you’re walking.

     2.  Spend at least two hours every day reading or listening to positive, uplifting materials.

     3.  Invite a friend and treat yourself to a great concert – in every city I visit there are amazing concerts at the local universities and churches every week.

     4.  Take a class – there are multiple agencies and churches offering free career transition classes and workshops in nearly any city. 

     5.  Volunteer to help someone else.  A man asked Dr. Carl Menninger, “What would you advise a person to do if he felt a nervous breakdown coming on?” Most people expected him to reply, “Consult a psychiatrist.” To their astonishment he replied, “Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone in need and do something to help that person.”  Helping at one of the prisons, your local mission or the Salvation Army will do wonders for helping you see your own brighter future.

Making deposits of success in life areas aside from the career and financial pieces are the best way to prepare yourself for success in those areas ultimately.  If you are depleted in personal areas you will come across as weak and needy when presenting yourself for a job opportunity.

None of these are directly related to getting a new job, starting another business, rebuilding your health, or finding another friend and yet they are very much related.  From these actions come the boldness, confidence and enthusiasm necessary to nurture the success you are seeking in the work area.

“They say when one door of happiness closes, another opens.  But
the problem is… we look so long at the closed door that we
never notice the open one.”

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13 Responses to “Unemployed — or ready to launch?”

  1. The Firing Line | Coach's Corner Says:

    [...] line these days, these are real dangers that many may be facing or actually are facing right now. He offers five tips to break the “cycle of losing” that can trap so many people after a difficult incident. No 5 in particular fascinated [...]

  2. Jared Matthew Kessler Says:

    Dan,

    I have to reply on the “Volunteer to help someone” comment. I went to a seminar in 1998 where the speaker said, “On your way home, go to a local hospital and ask to see someone who hasn’t had any visitors for a while and tell them you are there to just deliver flowers from someone who cares.” I never said it was from me, but I put on the card “This is from someone who cares.”

    I continued to do that for a few weeks and it helped me to gain back my confidence I needed in relocating to CA (from NJ) in my early twenties. I can’t tell you how emotional it was for me to see the look on patient’s faces when they finallly realized “Someone out there really cares about me.” I held back many many tears of gratitude for what this helped me to see and I’m forever grateful for what those experiences gave me.

    Jared Matthew Kessler
    (Author of “The Poet and the Billionaire”)

  3. David VanderMeulen Says:

    Dan,
    My wife and I recently started going through a “48 Days” class at our large church here in Nashville where you have spoken before. We continue to volunteer to help with cleaning, helping the pastor move, etc. – as indicated in your article it does indeed help one’s perspective to find ways to give. Also, though it is of course important for us to manage money wisely since we have now been four months in “career transition”, I feel it is not only OK, but productive to selectively take advantage of appropriate opportunities, including travel when appropriate. In our case, two such examples include (1) driving to Atlanta last November for a professional meeting where there would be “networking” or other job link opportunities, and (2) going back to Atlanta this coming weekend for a special major church related conference which I believe God will use for our marriage, vocational and spiritual welfare. Thanks for keeping the good words coming our way!

  4. David A Malin Says:

    Dan,

    Your “5 Tips to Break the Cycle of Losing” are right on the money. I was downsized as part of a senior management change at the start of 2006 and left the core industry I’d worked in for over 30 years. That led to working in the securities industry for almost a year (not the greatest timing on my part). And, it’s now been two years since that job ended.

    But, during this time here’s how God worked:
    1. Having 30+ years in management and business start-ups, plus holding Series 7 and 63 securities licenses, the door opened to become an adjunct professor of business at a local university.
    2. I started a part-time handyman ministry for widows, single mom’s and seniors at our church.
    3. I’ve taken training to become certified as an accounting software consultant and started a side business that is growing slowly.
    4. Last year I helped a handicapped friend repair and repaint his house. He’s helped me gain expertise in a hobby we both enjoy.
    5. I picked up a part-time job at a local home improvement center
    because of my handyman background. As a result of walking, what seems like 10 miles a day, I’ve lost 17 pounds and I’m in better physical shape than most of my peers.
    6. I’ve read at least a couple of dozen books or more, including yours, that have improved my personal, vocational, relational and spiritual life tremendously.
    7. Almost every morning, when the schedule works, I head for the local coffee shop and spend the time reading, thinking and journaling.

    Does following this type of plan mean I don’t get discouraged? No, at times I do. I would still like to return to my core profession, but the jobs are just not there at this time. So, in the meantime I continue doing all of the above and more. Our needs are being met and I firmly believe my life is in God’s hands so I wait patiently for His leading.

    I probably would have followed the path of the person you once worked with had I not developed and followed the one laid out in this week’s 48 Days e-newsletter. I hope your wise counsel will help many others who may be at the start of an uncertain time in their life due to a recent layoff or other loss of job. Keep up the good work!

    David A Malin

  5. Bobby Biggs Says:

    I lost a business 4 years ago. A pastor friend of mine told me it was akin to losing a wife. I can see it. I got a new job that I like very much. Still something was missing. After many emotional ups and downs, a year ago I joined the local volunteer fire department. I found out there is alot of training and tests to go with it. But I stuck with it. I had some doubts because because I did not see any direct influence on, let’s say, earning potential. My wife can see positive things happening to me. Saturday night I received an award because many times after I take a night class I have to go to work and work all night. No one will ever know what that award meant to me.

    I can vouch for these steps and especially step 5. Thank you for your encouragement and letting me know not to discount the “indirect” influences on your life. My confidence is growing every day.

  6. Santiago Ramirez’s Blog » Blog Archive » Great Superbowl ad Says:

    [...] of visiting CareerBuilder go here. http://48daysblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/unemployed-or-ready-to-launch/ Tags: 48 Days, ad, careerbuilder.com, Superbowl No Responses to “Great Superbowl [...]

  7. Anita Says:

    Thank you, Dan, for giving us action items and a reminder that, as John Maxwell says, we are lifted when we lift others. The good news is that, given the current state of things, “lifters” are truly needed.

  8. Common Sense Says:

    I have identified the things I can do, that have no cost, that boost me up. Focusing on these activities has kept me in an upward spiral during my time out of work:

    Read the Bible – the bible itself is my most prized possession.
    Workout – you do not need a gym membership or fancy shoes – try walking for 1-2 hours 5 days/week.
    Count calories – keep a log of EVERYTHING that goes in your mouth.
    Family – tell your spouse about your frustration to gain their support, play board games with kids.
    Eliminate – tv, computer, technology time – not completely, but challenge yourself, replace with thinking, creativity, art, writing, etc.

    by following this discipline, for $0, you will lose weight, build knowledge, skill, relationships, self-esteem and your chances of professional success.

  9. Bud Stanton Says:

    Dan,

    I want to thank you for this article. It couldn’t be more timely. I was just informed at lunch today that I am being laid-off. I am a Pastor at a local church in Loudonville, OH, I’m also an Elder at the church, so I really knew this could be coming. I know God will provide but I also need to not fall into the temptation of feeling sorry for myself. Thanks again.

    Blessings,
    Pastor Bud Stanton
    New Hope Community Church

  10. CookevilleWeatherGuy Says:

    Amen Dan…excellent blog post.

    I lost my job on December 15th, 2008. Rather than feel sorry for myself, as we’re all tempted to do, I jumped at the ‘opportunity’! My church was right at the end of building an incredible new facility, so I volunteered my time to help move in new furniture, mop floors, assemble all sorts of items, anything that would help.

    Rather than feeling sorry for myself, I got better at my passion (weather blogging) and have had the best couple of months ever (in terms of visitors and feedback).

    Rather than feeling sorry for myself, I focused on other’s needs. I volunteered to help my wife MORE with our little one, helped her with the daily chores she chooses to do around the home (BIG PLUS!!) and became a stronger man of God.

    Now, 6 weeks later, doors have opened to incredible opportunities, people have commented how my positive attitude has encouraged them. I’ve never felt MORE at peace. GOD IS GOOD!

    Even with no income, we are doing well. It helps when you’ve paid attention to Dave Ramsey for several years! :)

    The pain of losing your job can be intense. The way you handle it determines who you really are on the inside.

    More than ever, I believe when the Lord closes one door, He opens another….

  11. Dan Miller Says:

    Wow — thanks to all of you for the affirmations and personal stories about breaking the cycle of defeat. I encounter opportunities to brighten someone else’s day at every turn, and in the process realize how many wonderful things continue in my own life — regardless of the changing circumstances.

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