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The Hidden Gift in Losing Your Job

Losing your job hurts. It can fill you with self doubt, disillusionment, sadness and anger. It can also give you determination, resilience and - gifts.

You might say I have an insider's view of transition. I have been involved in outplacement counseling at a major corporation; I have been at the table when reorganization decisions have been made; I have coached/trained thousands in transition processes; and I have experienced job loss myself.

Now – listen to what I am going to tell you and please believe it when you hear it:

Everything happens for a reason. There are great things ahead. Your working for XYZ was not a mistake. There are no wrong turns on the path. There are hidden gifts in that experience. Ask. Allow yourself to learn. It’s all about you. And by the way - there is nothing wrong with you.

Having said these truths – I want to add that there is work to be done. Sometimes answers just come, but the most powerful answers come when we ask – and then stop – and listen.

There are two types of work that need to happen here – don’t ignore either one or you’ll risk stepping back onto a treadmill without having learned anything.

Look for the next opportunity.

Yes – there’s the work of looking for another job – and that new job/opportunity will come. In some ways, this is actually the easy part – because we know that it needs to happen – it’s survival mode. And it is important. But wait a second….How about taking it one step further? How about mixing a little wisdom with that search?

Accept some “down time.”

There is some “down time” that is built into the job search. And when I say “down time” there are at least two ways to think about that.

  • Way #1: There’s one part that suggests that we are actually down in the dumps – yep that’s going to happen. You may doubt yourself. You may feel angry. You may feel relief. You probably feel some fear and uncertainty. You probably need time to heal. I know I did. By the way – all of those emotions are normal. It’s part of the process. Give yourself time to do this – cry, rant, scream in the car - then move on. Remember not to allow yourself to stay in thoughts that do not serve you. Learn from what happened – and then move forward.

  • Way #2: When we take some “down time” it suggests taking some time to rest. Let me be clear here – I am talking about intentional rest – the kind of rest that you say to yourself, “I am going to go to _______ today because that is my favorite place and I always feel good when I am there.” The job search can wait for 2 or more hours and you will be better off for having conscientiously taken the time to rest.

While you are experiencing "down time" - try NOT thinking for a while. Just throw a stone into some water. Breathe. Run. Listen to music. Meander aimlessly. Do whatever you like to free your mind.

When I got "reorganized," within an hour I was walking my dog to the lake – I felt like a brick had hit me. But oddly, I also had an incredibly light feeling - I felt as though a burden had been lifted from me. And I had to laugh – I knew I was probably supposed to have left that job – but I didn’t leave because I was uncomfortably cozy in the stability of the situation. As I walked to the lake with my newfound mixed bag of freedom and my dog Logan, I looked to the heavens and actually laughed out loud saying: “You have my attention now – what’s next? I’m listening.” And I really didn’t know what was next, but I knew I was supposed to be on alert and listen.

Think – about unexpected things.

After you have allowed yourself to rest and NOT think, I want you to think – about unexpected things. Everything happens for a reason. There is something to be learned. What did you learn? Go ahead and choose to learn it now. It’s a gift.

Need some ideas about how to find the gift? Here are some clues.

Gratitude: Start here. What are you grateful for? Make this the first two pages in your “New Beginnings” journal – or spiral notebook (cost .90). Write it down – keep adding to the list as ideas pop into your mind this week. Focus here. It has the power of lift.

Mistakes: Own them now. We all make mistakes. Don’t be overly critical with yourself. Be objective. Repair if necessary. Get it out of your system – I mean that. Don’t hold on to it. Clear it out. Talk to someone. Write it out. Forgive yourself. Move on.

Wrongs: Did someone treat you poorly in this situation? Recognize it without being overly critical. Be objective. Everyone makes mistakes. Your job? Find a positive takeaway. Release it. Forgive it. Move on.

Lessons: Is there a common thread to this situation? A positive lesson that you can take away from it? What did you learn? Write it in your journal. Hold on to this. Focus on the positive.

Passion: What are you passionate about? What do you love to do? What makes you happy? What skills make you unique? Think about what you love to do. Make a list and see where it takes you.

Revitalize: It’s really important to take care of yourself right now. Listen to music that makes you feel good. Dig in the dirt. Walk. Intend to do something for yourself each day. You will feel energized as a result.

Search: Remember, it’s not what happens to us but what we do with what happens to us that matters. There are hidden gifts waiting to be discovered. Search for a job. And don’t forget to search for broader wisdom. It’s why we’re here. Clarity will come – if you ask for it.

There is a gift in every challenge. Look for the gift - finding it will open the door to new opportunities.

Ask. Listen. Act.

I am supporting your success....

© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact for more information on motivational programs.

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