Before starting my company, Winning Proof, I had been downsized three times in nine years. As far as I can tell that makes me a downsized diva and qualifies me to write the golden rules. Kidding aside, I am familiar with the situation and I’ve made a few mental rules of what to do during that time. These rules apply to the professional athlete as well as many who find themselves without a job after injury or reaching their expiration date all too soon.
Let’s start with the news you might have received in the past year or two.
“You’re being downsized due to corporate re-structuring.”
“You’re being downsized due to corporate financial strain.”
“You’re being downsized because the crazy senior management must keep their bloated salaries and the little people must go.”
“You are no longer an asset to the team, pack your bags and leave the building.”
In whatever way these words were spoken to you or a loved one, there is hope for a bright future if you manage it with a proactive spirit and choose to see opportunities instead of obstacles. Here are the five Golden Rules:
1. Celebrate a new chapter in your life!
Yeah, if you want to sigh and moan and panic, do that later. For now, celebrate the fact that all things happen for a reason and this is truly a new chapter in your life. Yes, there are mouths to feed, even if it’s just your own. I understand all too well about the reality of bills and making a living.
With all the Federal extensions, EDD makes life tolerable while you explore your options. It’s better than nothing, especially if your savings account is slim. Take a couple of days off from everything. Celebrate with your favorite movie, a meal, or just a celebratory walk. This is a fresh chance to create a new path for yourself…believe it or not, it’s worth celebrating!
2. Find Creative Ways to Tell Family/Friends.
You’ve celebrated in your own way, now it’s time to tell your family and friends what happened. Depending on the professional path the key people in your life have taken, determines their own reaction to your news. There are a few ways to break the news after you celebrate privately:
- Send a short, decorated email to everyone, telling them the news. Try to stay upbeat when writing. You’ll get everything from sympathetic responses, to anger at “the man” for downsizing you, to blaming you for not being a good enough employee to keep your job.
- Skydive into your friend’s backyard with a sign pinned to your sleeve. They’ll get the message.
- Make a personal call to your closest family and friends and let them know your situation.
Those who truly love you will rally around you and give much support. If you don’t have a supportive family, this is the last place you need to be; start with friends and extended family who will stand by you.
3. Re-group, Analyze the Possibilities.
Now the reality has set in. You will not be getting next Friday’s paycheck. Hopefully, you were offered some form of severance but it’s not always available. It’s time to re-group. It’s time to refocus on your life mission, goals and objectives.
What is it you want to do with your life? What passion has been put on the back burner all these years? No matter your age, this is a great time to return to what you believe are your true talents, gifts and inspirations. What can you do with your own unique set of life gifts? Do a Google search for your areas of passion to find out what opportunities are present. This is an exciting time to change the course of your life.
Sign up for career-changing, entrepreneurial websites like Changing Course and Joyfully Jobless. With the power of search engines these days, there is no lack of great ideas for additional streams of income with very little capital. Again, a little exploring can reveal some avenues you might not have thought of during your j-o-b days.
4. Resume Upkeep
If you’re job seeking. If you want to stay on your present professional course, you’ll need to update your resume. I suggest finding someone on one of the freelancing sites who can re-write and polish your resume into a powerful selling tool. You’ll also want to write an eye-catching cover letter that highlights your accomplishments and your best personality traits.
5. Structure Your Time – Keep a Schedule.
This might not be natural for you but you’ve done it with your job so you know it’s possible. Keep yourself from being derailed emotionally and physically, by structuring your time as you would a work day. Don’t sleep in…get up earlier. Do some form of physical exercise first thing in the morning because it will increase your energy level for the remainder of the day. A note about nutrition – this is not the time to load up on Twinkies. Energize yourself with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein.
Write out 3 – 4 things you want to accomplish during the day. Include three questions: What kind of person do I want to be today? What 2 – 3 things do I want to accomplish today? Note: The operative word here is “want,” not “should.” Where can I make a difference in someone’s life?
Remember, your mindset is a DAILY choice! Viktor Frankl, the Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor, once said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Share what life-changing experiences have come about in your life due to a corporate downsizing or simply the loss of a job.