Losing Your Job or Finding Yourself?

Losing a job, especially if you’re well into middle age and living in our economic situation, is a terrifying thing.

But it’s not the worst that can happen.

The worst that can happen in losing your job and not taking advantage of the opportunities it gives you. Yup. Opportunities.

If you lose (or lost) your job, you will go through the stages that are common to any loss. If there are shortcuts around those stages, I’m not aware of them. Sorry.

If you’re smart, you’ll hook up with any number of services that are available to you. Through the unemployment office, through your local community; For me, it was through the incredible people at Connect to Care, a wonderful Jewish community resource for the greater New York area. These places will help you figure out how to network, what to include in your resume, the amount of money you’ll need to earn to keep your roof over your head, how to use Linked In. All that good stuff and more. They can hook you up with counseling if you need it, and with emergency cash, if you need that. That’s all good. But I want to share how I’ve grabbed hold of life and spent my “underemployed” time when I was moved to part time, and my “unemployment” when I left the job I had.

Since things started to “go south” in my work situation, I’ve used the time and some money saved as “venture capital” to:

  • Get life coaching
  • Launch and incorporate a coaching and consulting venture, Jewish Connectivity
  • Get a business mentor (free) from an organization called SCORE, which partners with the Small Business Authority
  • Develop a website that describes the company and allows for interaction with potential clients
  • Attract clients that have included Jewish Teen Funders Network, UJA-Federation, The Jewish Education Project and more
  • Begin a podcast series, Meet me at the Tzomet, linking Jewish values and texts to life’s challenges
  • Find a part-time online teaching gig at Gratz College, that is training me in online teaching
  • Start a You Tube channel, including videos of presentations that I give in my work
  • Upgrade my blog, which has had thousands of “hits”. Subjects include: new paradigms for success in Jewish learning, new models of rabbinic leadership, and other topics in Jewish living and learning
  • Launch my own twitter feed (@JewishConnectiv), with over 1400 followers in just a few months
  • Develop curriculum for BBYO Kallah and work at camp with over 200 teen learners
  • Present at TribeFest and join the speakers bureau of Jewish Federations of North America
  • Spend time meeting with professionals in the field (and beyond) who I wanted to meet because they seemed interesting
  • Build my Linked In profile, which now has over 20 recommendations from people who I respect

If the ax has fallen, or seems about to, here are a few thoughts for you:

  1. Take time to mourn the loss of the job (or possibly career) that you’re leaving behind. Mourning a loss empowers you to move on. Don’t try to skip this step, but don’t wallow in it, either.
  2. Prioritize. With limited resources, concentrate on the things that really matter. There’s no boss telling you what to do. Take charge.
  3. Accept help. You’ve paid your dues and have helped others to get ahead. Allow the world to return the favor.
  4. Reconnect with people that you didn’t have time for: professional or personal connections. Not just to network for jobs, but because you enjoy their company and will learn from them.
  5. Spend time with new people. Especially people who are smart, wise, successful and can teach you something.
  6. Make sure every week (if not every day) to do something that scares you and to challenge yourself in some new way.
  7. Start a new venture. Whether it’s a business, a blog, a Twitter feed.
  8. Read and write. Maybe there are articles, a song, a play or a book you always thought about writing. Go for it!
  9. Put in some volunteer time. It will make you understand how much to still have to offer, and might even lead you towards your next step.

Oh, and of course, keep looking for the next professional opportunity. At the same time, make full use of the opportunity that life has handed you.


[Co-published with the blog of Connect to Care, Nassau County UJA-Federation of New York Connect to Care]

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