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Staying Positive During A Career Transition

Change is part of life: the change of seasons, the daily changes in weather, the cycle of birth, aging, and death. Change is one thing we can count on and it seems to happen more quickly in today's technological society. Dealing with change can be a very difficult and emotional process for people, even when the outcome is positive. Going from what is known and comfortable to the unknown and untried can be frightening. One major life change that many people encounter in their lives is the loss of a job.

As we begin the New Year, some of us may be experiencing a recent job loss or the prospect of possible company layoffs. Recently, a Plain Dealer article cited a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics which found that Cleveland was second only to Detroit in having the weakest employment opportunities. Such news can be disheartening and anxiety provoking if we let it. To make a successful career transition, it is essential that we keep an optimistic attitude but have realistic expectations. For example, it is likely that another job will be found but perhaps it will be in a different industry, working in a different capacity, starting up one's own business, consulting, or perhaps relocating for a job.

How the rest of the family reacts to the news of the job loss is often affected by the attitude of the job seeker. If he is pessimistic, his attitude may unduly alarm the rest of the family. If he panics and reacts too quickly, making announcements that "the house will be sold, the family will move and leave friends and relatives, there will be no more vacations," and does so implying that things will be awful and terrible, strong negative reactions by family will result. The job seeker needs to be realistic and let the family know what has happened but reassure them that good things can come from change. Alexander Graham Bell once said, "When one door closes another door opens: but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we cannot see the ones which open for us."

Some useful tips on how to stay positive during your job search include:

  • Balance the job search, personal time, and family time. Designate a certain portion of each day to work on your job search and then put it aside. No one can stay positive and be productive if they work at it 24/7.
  • Make time each day for physical exercise. It's a great way to relieve stress and prevent depression.
  • Develop a support group of relatives, friends, and business associates. Many people have experienced a job loss and would be happy to give assistance in the job search.
  • Avoid hasty decisions. Take things a step at a time. Consult experts for advice when needed (i.e. financial planner, relocation consultants, career counselors, recruiters).
  • Nurture your spiritual life (i.e. meditation, prayer, yoga, church services, volunteer work).
  • To control anxiety, set up a specified worry time. If you are bothered by excessive worrisome thoughts, restrict your worry to a few minutes each morning and early evening. Write out your worries, challenge negative thinking, and write down possible solutions. This will help avoid sleepless nights.

Remember - keeping a positive attitude is the most important thing in searching for your next job. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive, because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive, because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny."

Chaille Anne Walsh, Ph.D.
Counseling and Consulting Psychologist

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