Saturday, May 16, 2009

Career Change

In the course of joining the University of Hard Knocks, a life-long learning environment that encapsulates all the group dynamics imaginable and then some, one may undergone career change, some self-initiated such as driven by career advancement, while still some other, externally imposed but not always beyond one's control. As alluded to, those in the latter category may include under-performance, negligence, insubordination, disciplinary transgressions, etc. that could be self-inflicted.

However, being conscientious and capable is no guarantee for continuous employment too. Personality clash with superiors is one, though that is usually not the stated reason, and the resulting egress may be effected through a series of subtle job reassignment ranging from a less favorable deployment to outright cold storage.

At times of economic downturn, an oft-used “scapegoat” is business downsizing, right-sizing, cost cutting, and others of a similar ilk, and the decision as to whose tie is to be severed, no matter how hard thought and seemingly justified these decisions would seem, invariably leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those at the short end of the deal.

Involuntary termination, layoff, retrenchment, the proverbial pink slip, all are euphemisms for losing a job, joining the rank of the unemployed. And the emotional stampede that “stroke-of-the-pen decision” sets off can range across the spectrum of disbelief, disappointment, bitterness, shock, self doubt, to resignation.

Understandably, these initial reactions are to be expected, and one may well spend the first few days in wallowing, shutting off, one's mettle being put to a severe test of resiliency. These are also the times when one is most in need of the caring presence of loved ones and close friends, not necessarily to help reverse the fateful event, but rather to lend a listening ear, to empathize and share in the misery, so to speak. Having someone to talk to in times of emotional distress can be therapeutic, and goes some distance in helping one to rebound.

After a time of grief, it's essential that one picks up the pieces, and embarks on what can be a long and arduous road toward recovery, gainful (re)employment that is simply because life goes on. There are expenses to be met, bills to be paid, and obligations to be discharged. These don't just vanish when one is out of work.

It's also vital that one regains confidence, banishing any self doubt of one's capability to oblivion. As the popular saying goes, one door closes, another one opens, provided one seeks, one canvasses, one networks, perhaps lowering expectations somewhat to be realistic, even relocation just to buy time if need be. It's also a good time to review one's past achievements, or the lack thereof, and re-evaluates the way one handles matters, including inter-personal ones. Be less outspoken perhaps, or more networking. And more important, be prepared, both financially and emotionally, the former meaning putting funds aside for raining days, the latter, cultivating a calm mind and understanding that one cannot change the environment, but one does have the means to decide how one would respond to changes in the environment.

To achieve that positive of mind, perceive the layoff as an enforced rest, affording opportunity to have quality time for family, to pursue one's interest that has been put on the back burner due to work commitment, and to contribute one's time to a worthy cause, to volunteer for community service. In other words, to live more like a member of the community, cognizant of the many things that are crying out for attention, and give, rather than being obsessed with forging ahead in the rat race driven by wants than needs.

After undergoing the “ordeal”, one may realize that there is more to life than working for a living. There are roses to be smelled, love and kindness to be shared, and nature to be savored. If nothing else, this realization (hence, the Chinese character at the top) could well be the best thing that could ever emerge from the energy-sapping, emotion-draining, confidence-decimating experience of layoff.