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Quit? Fired? You Can Turn Career Change Into Gold

Here Are Nine Principles to Help You Successfully Navigate Transitions

By Published on . 1

Ariane de Bonvoisin
Ariane de Bonvoisin
When it comes to the two words that will have the biggest impact on your life, it seems that "I quit" or "you're fired" fall just behind "I do."

According to the Holmes-Rahe Scale of stressful life events, a job loss/career change is considered the eighth most traumatic life experience one can have.

Job changes stir up many emotions, but once you've given your notice -- or digested the news that your services will no longer be needed -- it's time to become a change optimist and look forward. In researching my book, "The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Any Change," I interviewed thousands of people going through major life transitions and discovered that people who successfully navigate change, including career change, adhere to these nine principles:


1. THEY HAVE POSITIVE BELIEFS

Whether you've been fired or are simply thinking of leaving your job, now is the time to redefine your beliefs about this transition. It's natural to view getting fired as a bout of bad luck or quitting your job as reckless and impractical, but you can also choose to see this time as a positive beginning to a happier professional life. Positive beliefs can turn getting laid off into the push you needed to pursue something more gratifying, and they can also give you the inspiration necessary to leave your comfortable but uninspiring gig for something more exciting. As you move toward your next work adventure, tap into the ultimate positive belief: Your next job will make you happier.


2. THEY KNOW THAT FROM THIS SITUATION, SOMETHING GOOD WILL COME

Optimism determines how easily you navigate a career change. Instead of wasting time wondering why or how things changed, spend your energy believing that there's something really good waiting for you around the next corner. When a media buyer from Los Angeles was let go from her new job, she made a decision to stay positive -- and it worked. "You've got to put it behind you and move on," she says. "Don't let what happened hold you back. I started making phone calls right away, and because the industry is so tightknit, sure enough, a couple of weeks later I landed a new gig."
'The First 30 Days': A guide
'The First 30 Days': A guide


3. THEY KNOW THEY ARE RESILIENT, STRONG AND CAPABLE OF GETTING THROUGH ANYTHING

You are much stronger, more powerful and more intuitive than you've ever been told -- no boss and no job can take away your self-esteem. And remember: Valuable people are always valuable regardless of the state of the economy. While there's never a right time to be unemployed, today is actually looking pretty good. "If you're considering changing jobs, explore it," says Larry Goodman, an industry veteran who has worked for Grey Advertising and CNN. "Don't think because you've been doing something for a long time that there's not something else out there that could more interesting. Even with the slowdown in growth in advertising spending, this is still a dynamic industry with lots of opportunity." Remember, you take all your skills and experience with you.


4. THEY KNOW THAT CHALLENGING EMOTIONS WILL NOT STOP THEM

Emotions run high when you are fired or laid off. If you were perfectly happy doing your job, but HR had a different agenda, you may find yourself paralyzed by the fear that you'll never find another job. Fear, blame, doubt, guilt, shame and impatience are expected emotions during career changes. Knowing that they will show up (and that some will be stronger than others) is the first step in moving through them. You won't get stuck in a debilitating emotion if you don't give it any power. Simply identify which one is holding you back and refuse to allow it to delay your forward momentum.


5. THEY KNOW THAT THE MORE QUICKLY THEY ACCEPT CHANGE, THE LESS PAIN AND HARDSHIP THEY WILL FEEL

Like an addict who accepts and admits that he or she has a problem, acknowledging that you want to leave your (boring, tedious, underpaid, overwhelming -- fill in appropriate adjective here) job is the first step to finding one you'll love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ariane de Bonvoisin is founder and CEO of first30days.com, a company dedicated to helping people through life changes.
And if you've been let go, you have to accept that your old job is over before you can find a new one. Accepting the way things are now -- instead of wishing they were how they used to be -- will help you get to what's next for you.


6. THEY ASK EMPOWERING QUESTIONS

When asked to leave a company, it's very tempting to pose questions such as: Why did this happen to me? Or: Why am I so unlucky? But to successfully navigate a career change, you need to ask questions that will open up a new way of looking at things. Instead, ask questions such as: How could this be a good thing? What can I learn from this experience? What is my dream job? Watch your language, the stories and the excuses you bring up to others now.


7. THEY KNOW THEY ARE CONNECTED TO SOMETHING BIGGER

Not knowing is OK. Whether you've got your five-year plan ironed out or you're leaping into the unknown, it's natural to feel intimidated by what happens after "I quit" or "you're fired." If you're stuck -- too unsure to leave or too defeated to start looking for something new -- remind yourself that it's OK to know nothing of what's next. You don't need to subscribe to a specific religion or philosophy, you simply need to believe that there are reasons why this is happening and that life is on your side, leading you to something better.


8. THEY SURROUND THEMSELVES WITH PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP

During difficult job changes, it's natural to think that you are alone -- that nobody else has ever been fired or hated her job the way you do. But the truth is that there is always someone who understands what you are going through and who can help. Locate your go-to people (friends, family, colleagues) and let them help you now. Don't allow shame or tentativeness to hold you back. There's a good chance that your next career opportunity will come from someone you know.


9. THEY TAKE ACTION. THEY HAVE A PLAN AND KNOW HOW TO TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES

Break the paralysis that can set in once you've been fired or once you've decided to leave your job by taking action. At this stage, a simple step, whether it's making a phone call to someone in the industry, sending an e-mail to a contact or arranging a meeting with a savvy friend, can break the inertia and put you on the path to your next job. It also doesn't hurt to know where you're looking. Your career may have been built on the traditional side of the business, but when looking for a new job, think technology and innovation. And as Simon Sinek, founder of Sinek Partners and former account manager at Euro RSCG and Ogilvy, says, "Don't run in the same direction as everyone else. Figure out what is a trend and what is sustainable when thinking about taking action."

People who love their jobs are inspired and inspiring. Many of them have been fired, have quit multiple jobs and only then went on to find a career that suits them. The difference is that they stayed true to themselves, weren't prepared to accept anything but what they loved and put in the effort and courage to go after what they truly wanted.
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