You’ve lost your job and you feel like you’re in a raging storm. The sun is blocked from your view, yet you know the sun still shines as it orbits out there in the universe. Eventually the light and warmth will re-emerge. But when?
Clearly the impact of the global pandemic is personal. Losing a job is crushing. When we hear news of people suffering in another part of the world, we may feel a degree of compassion, but then we continue focusing on our own affairs. Now it is you. It is me. We are the ones in distress. It has hit home. What will tomorrow look like? There are several important considerations I want to pause and explore with you.
Let’s start with the abject panic of being cut off from income causing insecurities of everyday life to bubble up. How do you handle unrelenting bills? Self-isolation? Boredom? All hell breaks loose in your mind and home. Welcome to basic survival 101!
Even more insidiously, you are severed from your self-worth. In the past, the opening question at all social gatherings was:” What do you do?”. You now have no answers as you mega dose on Netflix, pace nervously screaming at the heavens, TV, or at a roommate or spouse. Emotions rage morphing from anger to fear. What will happen next? Killer hornets? Oh wait, that’s another story!
Men and women experience this catastrophe differently. Guys feel devastated, especially if they have a family, because most men view themselves as protector and the lightning rod of happiness. Women dive deeper into multitasking to delude themselves into thinking they are taking care of everything; whatever “everything” may be. We have entered unprecedented territory both externally and internally. We need to look beyond the dark clouds.
Losing a job detaches you from a significant part of your very identity. Whether you accept it or not, work gives you value in the world. You exchange a talent or expertise for money. Without a job, you are painfully disconnected from three major areas of your life:
1. Obviously, you no longer have a revenue stream.
2. You cease to interact with your tribe of associates; a business network which fostered daily friendships and a certain level of socialization.
3. You have abruptly stopped contributing your skills in any meaningful way. You feel rudderless in rough seas that threaten to drown you in self-doubt.
Recently, The New Yorker reported that the “real jobless rate is probably somewhere in the low twenties, which would put it on a par with the peak rates seen during the Great Depression.” That’s the good news! In some bizarre way that makes losing a job a little more acceptable, even trendy. After all, it is not me, it is the situation. True. But still job loss can mean disaster in your everyday life. What are your options?
Breathe. There is a silver lining even though in this moment, the picture looks bleak. Before digging deep into the bright side, you need to take care of the troublesome side. The finances. The instability is a looming mass of uncertainty causing night sweats and insomnia. So here are some basics.
REVIEW YOUR FINANCES: Be Objective
First things first. Tighten your budget. Evaluate where your expenses are highest and trim where you can. A study by CareerBuilder shows that more than two thirds of US Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Cutting expenses is challenging but doable. Get off the couch and begin the process.
Here are immediate steps if you have not done them already.
1. File for unemployment. With State systems being inundated by claims, benefits can be delayed by weeks. File quickly to get cash flowing. Whether or not you feel you are eligible, file. The guidelines are expanding so you will not know unless you try!
2. Make a list of all your monthly payments and start calling lenders to request leniency, forgiveness, and extensions.
3. Talk to your landlord (if you rent) or your bank (if you have a mortgage) about suspending or reducing payments. Many are being cooperative. Negotiate.
4. Assistance is also available for credit card and student loan debt. Ask lenders for relief.
5. If you are applying for a business loan, approach multiple banks. Even though you will ultimately get only one loan, you should speed the process by applying to several institutions at once.
6. If need be, consult a money manager to help you figure out additional options in your current situation. One of the best ways to calm your current anxiety is by creating a new sense of financial protection and have a plan.
7. Consider local sources of support. Civic organizations, non-profits and other groups are helping individuals in a variety of ways, even assisting to pay bills. Food banks are providing donations from farmers, et al. Another example: The Rotary Club of Naples (of which I am a proud past president) is helping restaurant owners. We do an annual Wine & Food Festival to raise funds for community charities. To support those owners that have supported us, Rotarians and friends are choosing one restaurant per week to order take-out. In addition, some of us are funding extra meals that are delivered to first responders at our area hospital. Reach out to your community! Find ways to get or give help!
STOP THE NEGATIVITY
The pandemic is like a Bengal tiger chasing you into exhaustion. As a Personal Development Coach, I advise you that when anxiety rises in your body, pay attention to it. It is a normal reaction but what becomes harmful is when you allow yourself to stay in that state of high alert. The best way to dissolve fear is through awareness. Face it head on. It is OK if you feel scared. Notice it; accept it. In a twist-of-fate way, we are biologically wired for negativity to keep us alert to any perceived dangers. The problem is that when we remain stressed out, hormones get released that activate increased blood flow and heart rate making us feel agitated, nervous, and unfocused. By bringing more self-awareness to your fear, you open the door to dismantling its hold on you so you can begin to think more clearly. Breathe deeply and let go. Try this for an extra boost.
DISCOVER YOUR REAL PURPOSE
You are not your job. Your work is what you do but is not who you are. You are so much more than your salary or job position. Take a moment to consider your personal traits and your value to those in your circle of influence — parents, friends, your spouse, even co-workers. What are compliments people give you regularly? Are you a good listener? A caring person? Creative? Organized? Diligent? Trustworthy? Resourceful? A problem solver? Ground yourself in your positive attributes and take a moment to appreciate who you are, as those things about you don’t change based on your employment status.
Adversity often leads to breakthroughs. This BIG PAUSE is giving you a chance to find your passion and explore a different kind of work life. Trust that you are moving towards something better. Be proactive. Re-invent yourself. Consider using this time to explore interactive online learning. Get certified in a new skill.
For myself, I am re-focusing my energies. One area of my practice that has been eliminated is public speaking at conferences. I can no longer stand on stages in front of hundreds of corporate executives to deliver motivational talks about productivity and how to reduce stress and manage work-life balance for healthier, happier lives. Yet I can provide online programs and workshops. I’ve even taken time to learn video editing so that I can create more interesting presentations. Instead of in-person coaching, I now meet all my clients face-to-face digitally on Zoom or Skype. The adage from H.G. Wells comes to mind: “Adapt or perish…”
On your way to post-COVID-19 life, you have alternatives. Although social distancing is creating separation, you can still network. Now is the time to update your resume. Refresh your LinkedIn profile. Reach out to friends, associates, old contacts to explore the marketplace and discover new jobs. Discuss how you might help them.
The economy is changing drastically. You may never have the old job to return to especially if you worked in retail, movie theaters, restaurants, or travel-related businesses. Or it may take much longer for these industries to recover. So, use this interim time to take a leap of faith. Besides considering your passions and what else you might be good at or what you might prefer to be doing, let’s examine what jobs are becoming more relevant in the age of new norms.
Fitness and wellness sectors are expected to grow garnering salaries from $40,000 to over $100,000. Futurist Faith Popcorn, CEO of BrainReserve, anticipates that stay-at-home lifestyles have impacted a potential move to digital, remote services for personal fitness. Health consulting, online classes of yoga, Pilates, aerobics, and wellness programs have become more embraced by quarantined consumers who may resist returning to packed gyms, studios, or classrooms. More and more people are comfortable training online.
With increased digital interactions, technology will ramp up across all industries. As a result, the software industry is expected to experience an uptick. Programmers and software developers will be more in demand for reliable services as employers allow staff to continue to work remotely. This will also impact commercial real estate in a negative way as many companies will be downsizing their rental spaces to adapt to shrinking numbers of on-site workers.
Front-line responders in health care will continue to be needed as we move into more battles against viruses. Registered nurses, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners will all be high-demand jobs, especially to manage the expanding telemedicine venues. Rotary International is helping to gear up volunteers by offering free training as Certified Nurse’s Assistants (which could eventually lead to a paid position). You can register as a friend of Rotary at https://theglobalimpactgroup.org/
Alternative practices will also become more desirable to encourage wellness through nutritional coaching, life coaching, functional medicine, as well as therapies such as bio-electrotherapy, sound and vibrational methods, aromatherapy, meditation. More and more people will want to be better educated in self-care options to maintain strong immune systems.
Another major area for employment lies in the supply chains. We’ve all witnessed the critical importance of drivers, delivery personnel, and stockers within stores that sell basic items such as food, water, and toilet paper! Warehousing and logistics are also emerging as key areas.
Obviously, drastically-changing industries will need their messages about new products and services to reach the public, so experienced marketers will be hotly pursued. Advertising and promotions companies will need to expand to satisfy the increasing demand across all platforms.
While the turmoil of the Coronavirus outbreak will continue to upend our lives for months to come, you can seize the chance to create your new destiny. If you need support or guidance, talk to a coach, religious leader, or mentor for advice. As a life and health coach, I’m also here to serve and have many free programs on my website that might help you improve decision-making. I’m also available for online or phone consultations. So do not wallow in the darkness feeling alone. Connect to your inner powers so you may see the light of possibilities. Opportunity is waiting to knock on your door. Are you ready to answer?