I’ve been reading in alot of Brene Brown lately. Her Netflix special on vulnerability and shame was made for me and as I look back on my last decade as an entrepreneur I have to say that so much of what I was feeling when I took the leap ties right into her mantra about facing ourselves head on. So I want to get right to the business of dealing with grief – the kind that rarely gets discussed yet so many are experiencing right now; professional grief.
Yes its a thing! Although we often associate the word with the death of a loved one or a pet, grief rarely associated with the loss of a job or career, especially one that we may have loved. Think about it. We pour countless hours into our professions, often without any fanfare, at the sacrifice of our families and even our own health. So when a job abruptly ends without warning it can be a jolt to our system. Much like grief of the loss of a loved one, dealing with the emotions of job loss has its stages too; acceptance, understanding, healing, pivoting and thriving.
Let’s face it -2020 didn’t come with any handbooks and the industry shakeups have been monumental, making the unprecedented job losses even harder to deal with. I’ve spoken to MANY friends and colleagues who’ve had some pretty career shifts lately (some of their choosing and others not so much). From sudden layoffs, blocking of promotions, to plans that went left, many of you have been dealing with a lot of heavy stuff lately. Whether you’ve confided in me personally, asked for advice via social media, or if you’re simply in need of some guidance and a boost to get out of your professional rut, let me share this with you.
Know that you are not alone in your situation or feelings.
Now let me share my biggest piece of advice for you: The quicker you address the situation head on, honesty deal with the loss and itself, the quicker you can get back on track to living your most successful life. Deal with the array of emotions, confide in a close friend or colleague, seek professional advice, do what you have to get to the other side of that emotional hill; just don’t stay down too long. ~Vanessa
In my circumstance, it was an mixed bag of emotions that took up a good chunk of a year in 2010. Maybe you can relate too:
- The initial gut punch of the layoff after dedication to a company for over a decade and then having to suddenly make immediate decisions of whether to uproot my life and move to a new market to keep a job or pursue my entrepreneurial path.
- The anxiety about my financial well being and how I would make ends meet after my savings/safety net dried up assuming it would take longer than expected to find new work that I would be happy with.
- The feeling of loneliness when my once VERY popular cellphone that rang off the hook for every hot concert, meet and greet or all access event suddenly stopped ringing.
- The anger and frustration of having to let down a staff that I felt responsible for, many of which would be laid off too.
- The fear of how to get started if I wanted to go out on my own, feeling paralyzed by fear, therefore not getting started at all.
My Senior VP at the time shared a very valuable piece of advice “VJ, you have to learn to be malleable in every situation to make it in business and in life. Change comes at you fast; learn to adjust quickly”. He was right. I took his advice wholeheartedly and made a promise to myself to put Vanessa first professionally from that moment on, understanding that situations change on a dime (especially in corporate) and being able to deal with that change, ride the wave with courage and grace is how you grow as a professional and rise above the inevitable circumstances that an ever changing marketplace will surely bring.
That was the mental shift I made as I prepared for entrepreneurship.
Now that I’m on the other side of that hill, I can look back on my radio career as a fruitful basket of knowledge and abundance in spite of a layoff. The many times before that I made a career change it was on my terms, so the lack of control in retrospect was apart of the grief. Radio in many ways was and still is the best professional foundation I could have asked for. It taught me grit and gumption early on. It broke me out of my shyness, increased my confidence and even managed to erase my stuttering habit. It continues to be fruitful in its lessons now as an entrepreneur as I manage multiple projects at once, and most importantly has given me the thick skin needed to deal with difficult people, self doubt and the feeling of inadequacy.
What I’m finding is that MANY of us have been dealing with some heavy career situations including: being overlooked for a promotion because of your race or gender, uprooting and moving your family and life for a major career opportunity that didn’t quite pan out, suffering a huge let down from a company that you truly believed in only to discover that their work culture wasn’t what they sold on paper. The list goes on and on. All of these are real situations that have happened to people I know first hand. So again, know that you are not alone. For some that may be dealing with sudden career change that stops us in our tracks, understand that change comes fast and often makes us question our overall professional worthiness.
Before you question yourself, understand that there may be variables at play that have nothing to do with you.
We all have a vision board for our professional lives, which often includes how much money we want to make and how much we want to accomplish, which is great. I’d like to challenge you to create a plan for the unexpected; to make sure that you are mentally, physically and financially to handle all outcomes with a fearless grace. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom from my own experience that helped me grow into the entrepreneur that I am today. Take from it what you need.
- First, face the truth of the situation head on. You simply need to deal with what happened.
- Be honest with yourself about the role that you may have played, so that you can move forward fully. Sure, it could simply be budget costs or company restructure but analyze this for yourself and take note for future opportunities.
- Confide in your core group of friends and colleagues about what you’re truly feeling; the hurt, disappointment, the anger, the shame, all of it. Talk through it with your tribe knowing that they will be honest and sensitive to your feelings at the same time.
- If your core group of colleagues or friends can’t relate, ask for help, don’t grieve alone. There’s no shame in seeking professional counseling for major professional shakeups like this.
- Take a vacation (if you have the means) anything to help your soul get refreshed and refocused for the next chapter ahead. The next chapter will require you to be at your best and most clear and there’s no better way to hit the refresh button that some time off.
- Practice self care- it’s so important that you get right within before you go out on another limb.
- Utilize your network as a guidance on your next move. This time ASK the people that support you for recommendations and referrals.
- When a new offer comes, ASK for what you truly want so that you feel satisfied and excited about going to work everyday. Remember that once an employer or contractor locks you in, a typical raise is between 3-5% over the course of the entire job.
- If you hit the six-month mark and still feel stuck, crawl if you must to get out of that mental rut and move forward. Just do it. Exercise and walks outside helped me a lot.
- Know that you’re worth of all of your goals and dreams. Sometimes the greatest turns (often off course) lead to amazing destinations, because you grow along the way!
If you’re reading this, I sincerely hope this post resonated with you and that you pulled from it what you needed. I wrote it for to celebrate the growth of my past professional self and for you. Oprah challenged me during her last tour stop and I’m passing the challenge onto you: to make clear intentions and purposeful moves that your future self will be proud of. It starts with understanding your why and growing in all circumstances. At this point, the only reason we should be looking back is in gratitude for the professional lessons and importantly to love and appreciate just how far you’ve come!
Wishing you an abundant and healthy year ahead,