Don’t Panic #2 – Prioritize your Needs

How soon after accepting that you’re unemployed do you go out and do something about it? The best answer, in my opinion, is “a couple days later.” Why? Because you need to decompress. You need to let off some steam, and take a mini-vacation before making your job search a full time activity. I find this important because we need to approach our job search with a fresh perspective, prepared and better informed than ever before.

Don’t Panic – A Working-Class Guide to Employment

#2 – Prioritize your Needs

When I got laid off in December of 2010, I cleaned my slate quickly. It was easy; I was not satisfied where I was, and the environment was nothing short of toxic. I washed my hands of it the day they let me go. No matter what sort of paperwork or responsibilities would come my way in the days ahead, they were not on my mind for the better half of a week. Not everyone may share my view, but it enabled me to take a new look at what truly matters to me. I have needs, as do we all.

Take a new look at what truly matters.

With that, I’d like to briefly visit Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, one of the most fundamental theories in developmental psychology. As per this theory, human needs are placed conveniently in five separate categories. Given we all have a basic understanding of it (from the link provided above), we should confidently place ourselves at the bottom of this diagram. We satisfy this first (physiological) need by waking up each day, feeding ourselves and simply living. But without a job, or a “career” in our midst, we are not truly satisfying any other needs.

Don’t panic. You will satisfy these needs, one after the other, but first things first. We have to strategize our lives around what we have (our health), and what we don’t have (a steady source of income). If you’re collecting on unemployment, you must use your money wisely. Shop smart, if at all. Go online for ways to reduce your living expenses. A good mentality for this will help you conserve even after you find a new job.

Strategize around what you have and what you don’t have.

Create a system that organizes our professional life. You will refer to it, and add to it, as time goes on. Prepare yourself for much more than just a simple online application process. In today’s economy, you’re more likely to find a job through a networking contact than through a public job listing. Consider that as you begin taking the next step. With all this new time on your hands, use a bit of it to redefine what you’re looking for in career.

Don’t Panic #1 – Accept the Loss

Life is not a straight line. Sometimes, unforeseen forces will alter your way and spin around what used to feel like a comfortable and everyday existence. With this new year, my life has reached a crossroad, a fork, a detour, and I would like to share that with you. I lost my job.

Don’t Panic – A Working-Class Guide to Employment

#1 – Accept the Loss

In this critical time in my life, I have learned to take a step back. Don’t panic.

It’s easier said than done. While my heart jumps at the anger, the shock, the denial, the fear, and the depression of loss, it’s all just an emotional reaction to things outside my control. I have to accept it.

Don’t panic!

Before you consider all the questions that arise after losing your job (i.e. what’s going to happen to me?), you need to slow down. This is not the time to jump into hyper-drive. The best thing you can do is simply tie up your loose ends. Cultivate what resources are still available to you (from your old job), and sit on them until you are ready to move forward.

Slow down, and tie up your loose ends.

For me, those “resources” were the coworkers who connected with me on a profound level – fellow writers, idea-makers, and people with aspirations that went beyond the corporate roles we shared. We all make friends at the office. Create a list of contacts, and keep those professional colleagues close. They will help you out down the road.

Other “resources” may include intellectual property that gave you and your company a competitive edge, but that, unfortunately, does not entirely belong to you. Ask yourself, “what belongs to you?” You’ll find that, beyond the relationships you made, there is little else to harvest. Accept your losses, and you’ll have an easier time moving forward.

From the moment you walk outside, the very moment you accept that you’re unemployed, you have to look out for yourself, and nobody else.

Don’t panic. When one door closes, another opens.