Living in Limbo: 5 Survival Tips When You're in Between Jobs
Let go. Laid off. Corporately restructured out. Downsized.
So many ways for a company to tell you you’ve been terminated, but they all translate the same: You don’t have a job anymore, and it sucks.
Sure, your mentors will tell you, “In a few months, you’ll realize it’s the best thing that could ever have happened to you.” Your colleagues will pout, “Lucky you. Wish I could get out of here.” Your friends will say, “Now you can do what really makes you happy and have fun again!” And all of it may very well prove to be true. But while you’re in the midst of transition—from the moment you turn in your security card to the day you find a new gig—it’s easy to get down on yourself and forget who you are and what you have to offer.
To help ease into (and even enjoy) what I call “living in limbo,” here are five tips to give you some perspective:
1. Realize it Ain’t You
In these situations, many of us shoulder more than our fair share of responsibility and blame. My advice? Knock it off. Look around you, either within your former company or at pretty much any other organization in existence, and you’ll see that losing a job through no fault of your own is a sign of the times. You’re actually in pretty great company (even if you’re no longer employed at a company).
Take the time to recognize that it’s not you, it’s them and their issues: Sales projections weren’t hit, executives are in chaos, there’s a lack of strategy, whatever. You may not ever know the real reason, but do know that it likely had very little—if anything—to do with you.
2. Stop Suffering in Silence
It feels like some dirty little secret, doesn’t it? Part of you is embarrassed. Another part hurt. Another part angry. And yet another part worried about what the future will hold. And even though you’re not the first to go through this, you’re probably scared to share with anyone how you’re feeling.
True, there’s something to be said for pretending to be happy, putting your best face forward, and faking it ‘til you make it. But if you’re a bundle of ping-ponging emotions, remember that you don’t have to keep them bottled up inside. Talk to someone—and consider someone other than your spouse or your best friend. Getting an outside perspective is worth it, and it’ll leave your friends and family for fun.
3. Do Something
Be like Nike and “just do it.” Force yourself up at the crack of dawn to take a five-mile hike. Gather up all the books you’ve wanted to read and start at the beginning. Volunteer for an organization that holds interest for you. Start writing a blog. Do something. And here’s the key—do something outside of you. Get out of your head and your job search and start engaging with others and appreciating the beauty and experiences that are all around you. You’ll be surprised what it can do for your employment status, not to mention your soul.
4. Take Stock in You
I know, you’re probably ready to sit down and apply for every job posting on the entire Internet. But before you hang that “Will Work for Food” placard around your neck, ask yourself: Who are you, really? What did you want to be when you were all grown up? Is that what you were doing at your previous job? If not, why not—and why not do it now?
Sometimes, doors close on us because it’s the only way to get us to stop doing what we weren’t meant to do and redirect us onto another path. Taking the time to think about who you are, what your own unique skills are, and how you can best apply them is one of the fastest ways to find out what your next chapter will be (or actually—to your next chapter finding you).
5. This, Too, Shall Pass
What was the happiest day of your life? When you won that 5th grade spelling bee? Graduated with honors? Your wedding day? Giving birth to your first-born?
You were so, so happy—remember? And you thought it would last forever. But hey, it didn’t—and neither will this. It, too, shall pass. Keep this in mind if you find yourself in transition. And most importantly, take care of yourself. Doing so will help give you objective perspective on the situation and will make “living in limbo” a bit more tolerable. Until, of course, your next opportunity comes knocking.
Photo of woman in limbo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Paolina Milana is a former journalist turned marketing, PR & media pro. She currently serves as Chief Communications Officer for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the number one private funder of childhood cancer research. She also is a partner in Acre of Diamonds Entertainment, developing original content & programming, and has recently published her memoir The S Word. Find Paolina at PaolinaMilana.com or follow her on Twitter @PaolinaMilana.More from this Author