It’s hard to describe the feeling that grips your gut when you find yourself on the receiving end of a little white envelope with your name on it – notice of redundancy. After a number of weeks lurching between wondering and waiting, you finally have some clarity on the work situation and it’s not good news. It’s official, you’re out of a job.
Of all the F words to use right now, fear of facing the future are a few that spring to mind. As humans, redundancy strikes the nerve of one of our greatest fears – our drive to survive is completely derailed by uncertainty. It triggers an avalanche of intense feelings; rejection, fear and failure to name a few. Looking down the barrel of unemployment challenges our identity, our sense of belonging and our purpose. Even for the bravest amongst us, it’s very difficult to thrive under the conditions of change outside of one’s control.
So where to from here after waving goodbye to your job, your team, your routine and your income? How do you navigate the crushing reality of redundancy and dig deep to find the willpower to repackage yourself to face the job market again? How do you manage all of this change and emotional upheaval, while at the same time trying your best to afford family life? Before you deep dive into the journey, let’s see if we can find some encouragement. I’ve got a few pearls of wisdom to share, so grab a cuppa, find a quiet moment and read on.
A survival guide for redundancy:
It’s not you, it’s a global pandemic
I know, I know. It will feel personal. It’s totally normal to feel a grudge against the company, the person or the process but this feeling is highly unlikely to take you where you need to go. So instead of getting stuck on the question of ‘Why?’, try instead to spend your valuable mental and emotional energy on the question of ‘Now what?’. Within all the uncertainty and change is an invitation to take some small steps in a new direction. A new opportunity awaits!
It might be too late, but if you haven’t already left your workplace – before you pack up your desk and ‘cut and run’, slowing down and taking some time to say a proper goodbye to the people you’ve enjoyed working with will be helpful in navigating your exit well.
Milk the perks
If you’re lucky enough to be offered any kind of CV writing, career coaching or counselling from your existing employer, grab it with both hands. Any chance you get to engage the support and expertise of someone to help you make this transition is a good thing.
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Make friends with the numbers
As hard as it is, it’s wise to face your new financial reality. And sooner rather than later. If numbers are not your thing, you might want to find someone you trust and ask them to help you look at the maths. In a nutshell, you want to divide your expenses into two categories: ‘must have’ and ‘nice to have’. Taking a swift and conservative approach to spending will be helpful now too, so prepare to cull all the luxury expenses you can in order to weather the storm.
Shout out for support
When you have worked out what you need each month, prepare by getting on the front foot and recruiting some support. Get in contact with landlords, banks, schools, suppliers, Work and Income, churches, community agencies etc – help is at hand! Communicate where you are at and seek support for the short term. Getting some of these issues sorted will provide massive relief and free up some headspace to get on with other things, like applying for jobs.
Do what brings you joy
Life will feel a little intense right now as you juggle everything so give yourself the time and space to chill for a bit. Looking for employment is not a full-time job so use the downtime to catch up with a mate, go for a run, go to a game, take your board out for a surf or do whatever it is that fills your tank. You might have lost your job but you don’t need to lose your joy, so be intentional about finding time and space to play. In other words, don’t get stuck in a rut, find something to do that speaks life.
Find your new rhythm
If there was one thing we learnt in lockdown it’s that life works better when we have some kind of daily structure and routine. As the days roll into weeks, some intentionality around staying active and productive will be hugely beneficial. This could be a golden opportunity to carve out a new niche for yourself at home, to spend a whole lot more time with the kids or to learn some new tricks in the kitchen.
Find the silver lining
I think we’re all in agreement – this is a really unsettling time and I don’t want to put a trite positive spin on everything simply for the sake of a cliché. Yet despite all the challenges that come along with redundancy, little threads of silver light can be found shining through the gaps. If nothing else, then redundancy offers you the chance to take a breather, the time to think about who you are and what you want in terms of work. Choosing to see this time as a season of repositioning your future might help you climb back into the driver’s seat of your own life.
Walking the road of redundancy is like climbing up a steep and slippery goat track to discover a breathtakingly stunning view from the mountain peak. You will get to the lookout and there will be a new view, but it will take some blood, sweat and even some tears. The climb will be hard but worth it, so lean in and dig deep – you got this.
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