“I’ve been here working here for 35 years, but now I feel like a YTS trainee again!”
“The last few years have been tough – I can’t remember who I was before.”
– these are just some of the things I’ve heard from people feeling very fragile as their lives are turned upside down, as they face redundancy and other major life changes.
I know from my own experience – and from helping others in that situation – that if we’ve been working for an organisation for most of our working life, it can be completely disorientating to start thinking about what to do next.
In some cases we can feel that we are that nervous 17-year old trainee again, rather than the highly competent and experienced manager we’ve become.
When did you last make a decision for yourself?
Maybe it’s been a long time since you made a conscious career decision – or maybe you never really have, as you followed a path that appeared to be mapped out for you, or always chose the ‘adjacent possible’.
Particularly if we are mothers, people pleasers, or empaths, we might not have thought about what we actually want for ourselves for a very long time!
The thought of finding a new job when you have no idea what you actually want to do, can be quite frightening!
You might start worrying about updating your CV and applying for jobs, without really knowing what it is that you would like to be doing.
I’m losing everything!
When we’re facing redundancy, our focus tends to be on what we feel we’re losing – our job (and associated salary, status and benefits), and not what opportunities we now have (or all the bits of what we’re losing that we weren’t that keen on anyway).
You may find that imposter syndrome / phenomenon raises its ugly head. You may feel that you’ve lost all confidence.
Remember who you are!
My suggestion if you find yourself in that situation – is to remember who you are, rediscover and reconnect with what lights you up…
…remember what makes you, you.
Thinking creatively and positively about your future
Maybe you’re going through life change through choice, or maybe it’s being done to you – in either case, it’s great to take a step back and explore things differently, non-cognitively, or non-consciously.
In order to do that I suggest creating an environment to help you think creatively and positively about your future.
When you’re ready, find a comfortable and pleasant space, away from your normal place of work if you can.
Arm yourself with large blank pieces of paper or card, and some coloured pens. Music affects our mood, so experiment with playing some uplifting tracks. Tap into your playful and creative self – if you fancy a glass of wine, try that too!
Choose to ignore your inner critic, and turn down the volume on the negative voices in your head.
Meet the Best You!
Now capture yourself (yes, draw! – don’t tell me you can’t! Maybe you don’t very often, that’s all!) at your very, very best.
Make sure you have plenty of time, it may take you a while to get going…
- What are you doing when the time just flies?
- What are you doing that gives you a smile on your face just thinking about it?
- What are you doing that you would do for free?
- What are you doing that makes you leap out of bed in the morning ready to get started?
- Who are you with?
- Where are you? Inside/outside? Up a mountain? On the beach? Both?
- Is it winter? Summer? Morning? Evening?
- What else is happening?
- What other elements would you add to your picture?
Don’t draw yourself in faint pencil in the corner of your piece of paper!
- Fill the paper!
- Use the colours!
- Take your time.
- Enjoy adding detail.
Remember no-one else has to see this picture, so don’t let anyone else determine what goes into it.
Don’t draw you feeling ‘just OK’. Draw yourself feeling on top of the world, or ten feet high!
It’s good to dream big, or as a client said to me, to ask for ‘the moon on a stick’.
Don’t worry about whatever you draw being physically possible or financially feasible. And don’t worry that what you draw might feel out of reach or a long way away from where you are today.
It’s your picture, your ‘best you’ – go for it!
Remember to just draw.
Don’t analyse what you’re doing as you do it – have fun with it, play!
(If you prefer audio/visual instructions, check out this video: Meet The Best You)
What does your ‘best me’ picture tell you?
When you have your picture, take a look, a good look.
- What have you captured?
- What does it mean to you?
- When was the last time you felt like that?
- What are the important elements of your picture?
- What is it telling you?
How would you describe yourself in that picture to someone else?
Tip – this can be a great way to answer the dreaded ‘tell us a bit about yourself’ part of an interview – the question that comes up most often and that candidates prepare for the least..
Keep your picture close to hand, refer back to it as you continue to think about your future. Keep an eye on my blog for exercises to continue your thinking…
Meet the Best You workshops
When I was running this exercise and others as part of a series of ‘Meet the Best You’ workshops in the outplacement centre for a well-known (particularly at the moment) pharmaceutical company for R&D scientists facing redundancy (in some cases after many, many years), I saw a wide range of emotions.
Many of the attendees felt the rug had been pulled from underneath them; they felt they were unlikely to be able to replace what was being lost.
With positive creative thinking through a range of exercises, coloured pens and a carefully-chosen playlist, they entered the room feeling pretty fragile – and left bouncing out the door!
I think the feedback speaks for itself!
Playlist ideas to help that positive, playful, creative thinking (something for everyone!):
- Pencil full of lead ‒ Paolo Nutini
- Get lucky ‒ Daft Punk
- Waka waka – Shakira
- Kiss the rain – Yiruma
- Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence – Ryuichi Sakamoto
- Bach’s Prelude in C major – Glenn Gould
- Comptine d’un autre été, l’après midi – Yann Tiersen
- Chariots of fire – Vangelis
- You raise me up – Josh Groban
- Imagine – John Lennon
- Sunshine – Gabrielle
- Where is the love – Black Eyed Peas
- You gotta be – Des’ree
- Lovely day – Bill Withers
- Happy Pharrell – Williams
- Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO
You don’t have to do this alone!
Let’s talk about how you can support your staff who are facing redundancy (or if you’re facing major upheaval yourself), please get in touch via the contact form or call me on +44 7526 740486. Take a look at my group facilitation page and 1:1 coaching page for more information on how I can help.
[To get your free copy of my eBook ’10 things to consider when choosing a coach’, sign up for my fortnightly newsletter using the sign up box on the 1:1 coaching page.]
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