Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
UNEMPLOYMENT / OCT. 20, 2015
version 11, draft 11

How Losing Your Job Can Make You A Better Person

The day, the hour, the minute, and even the second in which you got fired is one you’ll never forget. The deep tremor of fear welling up in your stomach, your thoughts immediately turning to questions of survival: How long will it take to find another job? How will the bills get paid in the meantime? The moment can be especially daunting if the position was well-paid and you thrived on the income earned from it, and you are now faced with the prospect of changing your lifestyle.

See Also: How To Handle Getting Fired

You may, however, encounter an emotion that runs counter to such anxiety and apprehension. If you are one of the 52 percent of Americans who, according to a recent Conference Board survey, are unhappy with their jobs, then you might experience the slightly odd feeling of relief. This is a natural response to losing a job that did not completely satisfy you, and it is an instinct that you should build on rather than ignore. 

As the organizational psychologist Paul E. Spector observes, most people are satisfied with work overall, but find certain aspects of their job dissatisfying or even distressing. Professional advancement, material security, and flexible work hours are factors that give the modern worker some pleasure in what he or she does. However, enormous pressures are being put on employees to put in more hours and to increase their performance and productivity without corresponding raises in compensation or guarantees of job security and promotion.   

You may have begun to feel this strain before getting your notice of termination. You may have felt yourself losing a grip on your personal life and being gradually cut off from those life goals that you believe will lead to fulfillment. Getting fired gives you the chance to re-concentrate your energies, to re-prioritize your life so that you can start doing things that matter. You will still have to work, to earn, to bring in enough revenue to keep up with the bills. However, your severance from your previous employer will enable you to meet this obligation in a way that can make you a better person. 

Here are some of the life-affirming opportunities that losing your job will give you:

Reclaim Your Mental Health

Insomnia, anxiety, and depression are just a few of the disorders associated with excessive stress. To be sure, a little stress is a good thing. The need to perform and to meet high demands and expectations can bring out the best in people. Too much stress has the opposite effect. It can diminish performance and cause people to withdraw and disengage, mentally, from work.

Meeting impossible deadlines, anticipating changing client needs, and navigating shifts in office power politics may have put you in a state of mental decline. Your first aim after leaving your job should be to reclaim your mental health. You need to unwind a little before making further career decisions. Why? Because, as an excellent article in Business Daily points out, excessive stress poisons everything in your life. It saps you of enthusiasm and optimism and keeps you grumpy and hostile. You will not be able to see clearly, analyze your situation logically, and commit yourself to a sustained energetic effort unless you get your stress levels under control.

Improve Your Personal Relationships

The demands of the job you had may have strained relations between you and your friends or significant other. Unemployment gives you an opportunity to heal such rifts. Start immediately. Resist the urge to turn sullen, and instead enlist the people you love in the project to re-make your life. If you are to make serious changes in your life, you will need the help and support of those closest to you.  

In the case of your partner, taking a little vacation and dedicating time to relaxing activities that you both enjoy will certainly help things along. However, you should not mistake such ventures for acts that will lead to real rapprochement. In order to put things back into balance you must re-connect to your partner sexually, emotionally, and spiritually. You must make it so that he or she is once again part of who you are and what you want to be.

Spend some time talking about what you want to do with your talents. You should also discuss the possibility of moving to a different city or establishing completely different living arrangements. Circumstances will dictate whether you have the flexibility to actually do the latter. If you have children of school age, for example, it may be unwise and impractical to simply pick up and start elsewhere. In any case, the main thing is to involve the people you care most about in your career decisions.  

Enhance Your Intellect

One way of improving your mind is enrolling in a graduate program. Many newly unemployed individuals take this route. Going back to school adds to your stock of knowledge, skills, and abilities. It is also a great opportunity to network with other experienced professionals. Being back in a classroom environment can boost your confidence, give you inspiration, and provide you with the space you need to make crucial decisions about your future.

If for some reason going back to school is not an option, you can also enhance your intellect by reading books. Even a profession that requires high intelligence can have the most deleterious effect on your mind if it keeps you from this vital activity. The loss of your job will give you time to get back into it. Use this time to get literary. This is best done by delving into the Classics. The list of books in Mortimer Adler’s Great Books of the Western World series is a great place to start in the creation of a reading plan. Most of them can be found in cheap paperback versions at your local bookstore or online.

Intellect is a robust power and quality of mind that enables you to analyze, judge, and express clearly, coherently, and logically. The classics consist of those works that represent the highest achievement in literature, history, philosophy, and science. Reading them will not only improve your understanding of the general principles of each subject, but will also help you become a better thinker and communicator—attributes that will come in handy no matter what you decide to do next. These books have also been known to have a calming effect on one’s temper and feeling. They speak to fundamental truths about the human condition and can thus help you take a larger view of short term troubles.

Make you More Willing to Take Risks

Losing your job can help you become more of a risk taker. Getting out from under the structures of an organization feels liberating. For the first time in years, you are in complete control of what you spend your time thinking about. You should make the most of being in this situation by taking risks. Talk to your partner, your friends, and your former colleagues and figure out what it would take for you to set up your own shop. Leverage your work experience and connections to become an entrepreneur if that is your inclination.

You should also think through the measures required to pursue a completely different career. Now is the time to look into what it would take to become a writer, a painter, or a musician. You may have put aside a promising career in the arts to do something more ‘practical’. Given that the road you took has come to an end, you should at least consider trying the paths not taken. Doing so will make you feel happier and more productive. It will also put you in a state of greater harmony with your family, friends, and work environment.

See Also: How To Find Your Dream Career

There are many ways you can turn losing your job to your advantage. Getting fired can become an event that brings out all that is best within you. What is your opinion on this matter? Do you have any experience with job loss? I look forward to your comments below.

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