The road to recover from a career downfall or career change
Most of us have been there, with probably a few exceptions. It is part of life and to be honest, nobody will ever be ready for a career downfall or career change.
In a perfect world we all would have access to some kind of counselling to help us to go through it but the reality is that most times it is not how it happens. Still there are amazing ways to recover from a career downfall/change and most times we get out of it stronger and wiser.
I remember my major career downfall very well and I easily could turn the narrative into a lengthily drama narrative.
I was a single mom, owning a small business for quite a good number of years, when my career downfall happened. I was living in my hometown, São Paulo, Brazil. I owned a small business, a Dance studio for more than 20 years. I had to learn how to turn it into a business and all my income was dependent on it. Fun, exciting, challenging, busy but most of all, rewarding.
I loved the students, the teaching, the planning, the tracking of my business growth and I was proud of my career and my life. However, over time, the day came when I had to face the fact that my Studio was not providing me with the income I needed to survive. I decided to sell it. It was a difficult and emotional process.
I knew I wouldn’t get the revenue that was necessary for me to rebuild my career and start over. There was no time to grieve, I had to re start immediately. My professional experience was limited to teaching dance and running a small business, or so I thought. Looking back now, I was more resourceful than I thought. Here are some lessons I learned:
The Steps to Recover
1- Don’t waste time grieving, go into action right away
You will have plenty of time over the years to review your story and evaluate your actions. Now is the time to act to insure your survival. Scary, but simple and super effective. Sometimes in life it is fear that moves us forward. Your career was in the downfall mode, when it reached the bottom, now you can only be moving up. Work on a fast solution to get some income to cover your most immediate expenses, it will not be the ideal job, but a necessary step. It is just a fixer up job, so don’t go crazy getting too caught up with that. You’re in the beginning of figuring out what your new career goals will be.
“Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.”
2- Start your emotional assessment
Meanwhile, maybe you can take some time assessing yourself emotionally, through some simple and rational evaluations. We tend to get caught on our version of events that not necessarily are related to the truth. Whenever we feel threatened emotionally, the brain “fabricates” a story to calm us down, to make some sense of what we’re going through. Most times those stories are far from what really happened and it is our ability of analyzing and doubting them that will make a difference at the end.
Most times we just keep on believing in the same story, which was really originated as an emergency call. At this point the goal is to “doubt” the story and get curious about what is the true story and let go off the first one. A good example is when we meet a person for the first time and this person looks off and distant.
The story the brain might fabricate could be that that person just didn’t like us. In fact that person was having a bad day because of a family emergency. Many times we hold on to that story without bothering to understand why, dragging it for a long time.
3- Look ahead, to the future!
Although something is being left behind, there is a huge opportunity coming for something bigger and better in your career. Nothing can be worse now, embrace your own future, plain and simple. Look for inspirational stories and books to dive inside yourself, getting to know you better. Now it is the time to learn more about yourself. This Brené Brown book is all about this journey of self discovery. She is a behavioural scientist who tackles the dark emotions that get in the way of leading a fuller life. It is a best seller that will get you up and motivated.
4- Deal with the urgent things first
You will be busy enough doing so, to not be sorry about yourself. After doing your survival budget, update your resume, review your skills and start networking. Right away. The resume doesn’t have to be perfect at this point, you will improve it as time goes by, but start the action.
5- Reconnect, reach out
Do it all over again. And again. Most times reaching out to people that are not too close to you is easier and more effective. Family and friends, even with the best of intentions, can turn judgmental and preachy. A good idea is to reach out for some career advisors and search for the most updated book titles in your professional area.
6- You can always count on yourself
When you become overwhelmed with the way your life is unfolding, the best way is to think of other times when you had managed to find solutions for an unexpected event. You’re your best counsellor, you can always count on yourself. Repeat this mantra many times a day, preferably looking at yourself in the mirror. This simple action creates a wave of self confidence that will grow consistently in your mind.
7- Take a calculated risk if possible
Now is the time, there is not much to lose. Although it might sound scary it is also very refreshing to feel you’re not attached to anything. What you think is an empty hole might work in your favour and give more clarity in what to do with your life. Time for a change, maybe start small with your home: declutter, bring some good energy in, move things around. Even a nice home cleaning day, can boost your mood towards a future change. There is a strong connection with the process of physically cleaning and our mental well being. Taking a calculated risk takes courage to face the uncomfortable and unknown. Again you don’t have to do this by yourself, there is help out there to figure it out, like life coaches, career counsellors and psychotherapy. Take your time and get some help to figure it out.
8- Aim high with your goals
Shoot for the stars but adjust your expectations accordingly. Your priority is to get your survival guaranteed first and move from there. A career down fall is not a life downfall. Setting ambitious goals will help you to understand where you want to go. It doesn’t mean you’re wasting time and energy dreaming. It is a road map for your new career path. Start your road map now writing down your goals and plans.
9- Praise yourself
Pat yourself on the back many times a day, you’re strong, you’re smart, you will find your way to change careers. You deserve the best. People who have the ability to self coach themselves are the most successful recovering from anything. A few years from now you will look back and be proud of whatever you have achieved. You are your greatest fan.
10- Don’t lose your sense of humour, ever
Maybe this is the most important part of your re building. Don’t ever lose your sense of humour and the ability of laugh at yourself. Although you might feel awful, people will perceive you as strong and fun before feeling sorry for your situation. You do want that, not because of what people think about you but because you will feel in control of the situation. It is a game changer.
11 – Be grateful for your health first.
With your good health you can do anything you need to start all over again. Keep on the good road for a healthy way of living because in times of stress our metabolism goes down. Move, walk, exercise, do some yoga, go jogging. Any physical activity will boost your endorphins and make you feel you can conquer the world.