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Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
Speaking Information at (727) 467-0202 or e-mail info@fawngermer.com

Stepping From Despair Into Transition

Two days ago, I wrote how cynicism and negativity were defeating a former co-worker’s spirit in the midst of sudden unemployment. Leave it to Rosemary Goudreau to add another dimension to it.

“Maybe more than cyncism, what your friend faced was depression,” wrote Goudreau, who I worked with a million years ago when we were both reporters for The Miami Herald. “There’s a lot of it going around these days as journalists, even optimistic journalists, face the loss of their occupation…Few of us find the perfect opportunity out of the box. But as we explore this and that, we will find our way…Defining small steps might help your depressed cynic find a sense of direction again.”

Goudreau was laid off last November from The Tampa Tribune as its editorial page editor, but quickly regrouped and positioned herself as a communications consultant specializing in public policy and advocacy. She got her first contract two weeks after she lost her job.

And, she’s right. Instead of pointing out how destructive cynicism is, I should break down the re-invention process into manageable steps.

 So, that’s what I’ll do here. If you want help figuring out what you need to do with your life, check out the column I wrote earlier this week. I really believe the answers are really “out there.” But, so much of the re-invention process comes down to making the decision to play to win — then positioning yourself to actually do it.

10 Steps from Depression into Career Transition

1. Get dressed in the morning. Look good. Feel good so you can deliver. 

2. Exercise. Do you stop exercising because you get depressed or do you get depressed because you stopped exercising? Do whatever you need to do in order to keep your depression at bay. Take your meds. Pray. Take care of yourself so you are able to deliver at your greatest level of performance.

3. Take charge of your brain. If you put negative in, you get negative out. Put positive in, get positive out. You have tremendous power to control what you are thinking and, when you start hearing the negative tapes, just give yourself a verbal “Stop” cue. Deliberately replace your negative thoughts with something positive. It’s easier if you have a list of five positive things to go to for those low moments. For example, “I’ve been so successful in the past. I’m smart enough to get through this.”

4. Know that these tough times will not last forever. As much as it feels like you are sinking into a bottomless pit of quicksand, you aren’t. Don’t let yourself slide into the mentality that says you may never get another job, that you may never make as much as you once made, that you will have to work until the day you die. All that does is make you struggle more.

5. Remember who you are and who you are not. I see a lot of people who experience rejection and then process it as failure. They forget how talented and viable they are, so it becomes harder to project themselves as desirable. That poises them for more rejection. You have not lost your talent. And your setbacks have not erased your successes. They are just obstacles. You have succeeded in the past and you will succeed in the future.

6. Choose your friends carefully. If you surround yourself with hopeless people, you’ll lose hope. This can be hard if most of your friends are former co-workers who were also laid off. And, that can be even worse if you are competing for the same jobs against your friends. You’ll constantly wonder why someone got an interview or job that you didn’t. For the time being, be around people who will propel your success.

7. Network. Duh. We’ve all heard “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Well, it is also how you know them. Don’t network to make business connections. Network to make relationships. It is more important that you know that somebody likes to watch Grey’s Anatomy and loves pizza with anchovies than it is that you know their job description. Make important people fall in love with your personality and leverage those friendships so they take care of you professionally.

8. Listen. What are you supposed to do with your life? The universe will send you many prompts. Great turning points often present themselves in passing.

9. Don’t limit yourself to the classifieds. Executives are constantly asking other executives, “Do you know anyone who can…” They don’t want to advertise jobs because they don’t want 8,000 resumes. Network, network, network. Figure out where you want to work, then start writing key people to introduce yourself. There is a lot more on this in my book, Finding the UP in the Downturn. 

10. Know your weekly goals and achieve them by setting daily tasks. Then, DO THEM. Do something every day to move you closer to your goal. Whether you spend time networking or writing letters or taking classes or attending job fairs, do something to keep yourself in the game.

The most important thing is to have faith. Things will work out. I am not being flip. I am not shrugging off your pain or uncertainty. Things do have a way of working out. I don’t want to minimize anybody’s suffering or delude myself into thinking that hope conquers all, but the truth is that there are very few of you who will wind up eating out of garbage cans. There’s so much you can’t control, so give it to the wind.

 

4 Comments
  1. Thanks for the upbeat look at a down Friday. I’m paying attention and trying hard Fawn. I appreciate just knowing you and having the chance to listen to your thoughts like this. I printed it and will keep it over my desk.
    Best regards;

    John

  2. A wonderfully spiritual friend reminded me that “God always has a better plan.” The trick is to recognize it when you see it, and be ready! All the steps you mentioned above are great “readiers.” Leave yourself open to new possibilities. Don’t see them as failures, see them as stepping stones on the way to becoming the newer, more improved you. So what if you don’t make as money as you once did? Do you need as much money as you once did (I’ll bet not).

    A couple of weeks ago you wrote about change – be open to it, embrace it, and get out of your own way. You’re on the road to becoming a whole new you…and you probably will like yourself better than you ever thought possible!

    Go Fawn! Keep up the reinforcing and positive thoughts!

  3. A wonderfully spiritual friend reminded me that “God always has a better plan.” The trick is to recognize it when you see it, and be ready! All the steps you mentioned above are great “readiers.” Leave yourself open to new possibilities. Don’t see them as failures, see them as stepping stones on the way to becoming the newer, more improved you. So what if you don’t make as money as you once did? Do you need as much money as you once did (I’ll bet not).

    A couple of weeks ago you wrote about change – be open to it, embrace it, and get out of your own way. You’re on the road to becoming a whole new you…and you probably will like yourself better than you ever thought possible!

    Go Fawn! Keep up the reinforcing and positive thoughts!

  4. I’m sure this advice will be very helpful to some people and I’m glad that it is. But it relies heavily on hope, which is a luxury item that is out of my budget. Desperation is the only motivational fuel I have. I am one of those few who is very, very close to eating out of garbage cans or worse. I’m not lazy. I’ve worked hard all my life. But these days my victories are small, few and far between while I deal with frustration and disappointment on a daily basis. Every defeat hits me harder than the last one. When you’re trying to swim against a tide, all the happy thoughts in the world aren’t going to get you to shore if you’re physically, emotionally and mentally spent. My networking connections cultivated over a lifetime have been unable to pull strings for me and now my friends are drifting away from me as well. These things don’t happen for no reason; clearly I have nothing of value to offer anyone and my best days, if I ever had any, are behind me. I’m fighting an unwinnable battle by myself and I’m too tired to keep doing it, especially if there’s not point to it. And the idea of living this way through the upcoming holidays is so crushing on so many levels that I can’t let myself think about it. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I guess I’ll just keep getting out of bed every day until the day I don’t. All I know is that this isn’t living, it’s existing.

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