Job Loss and Three Important Needs

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Apr 20, 2011 in , , | 2 Comments

At some point in life, you will be out of a job. How will you handle the transition?

A job fills important needs–besides financial–which are missed in unemployment.

More than just a way to earn an income, a job provides self-worth, deep purpose, status, achievement, recognition, room for personal growth, supportive interaction with coworkers and a sense of power. When you lose your job, you lose these important rewards of being employed. These rewards have been broken down by Ernie J. Zelinski in his book, The Joy of Not Working (21st Century Edition), into three important needs: Structure, Purpose and Sense of Community.

New Structures

We have many structures with different routines in our lives–from birth to death–some we set, others are set for us. In the workplace, we have routines, in fact, just being employed is a routine! But when we become unemployed (or retire) those long-held structures with routines fall away and we are left feeling as if the rug has been pulled out from under our feet. We tend to ask: “Now what?”

People who are not flexible find unemployment and unplanned retirement especially difficult. But to those who are independent, creative, and motivated, the loss of other-imposed structure and routines is a joy. Whether you’re the inflexible type or creative personality, begin to create your own new structures and routines. For example: go to bed and wake the same time each morning. Plan your day, make a list of things you wish to accomplish and then set about organizing your time to do so. Job seekers need to be especially diligent making sure to spend time networking, crafting cover letters to fit specific jobs applied for, searching online for information, reading the latest books on interviewing skills, attending job fairs, volunteering or interning, going to workshops and classes. Also include time to exercise, socialize and have fun! It’s got to be balanced.

“I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.”–Fred Allen

Your Purpose

Having a purpose is almost as important as breathing. Life is greatly enhanced when you have purpose, it brings meaning to your existence. When unemployed, it’s necessary to put purpose into daily activities. Having a purpose makes you feel useful, productive and happy. [You might want to see my earlier blog "Do You Want to be Happy?" regarding purpose and balance in life.]

People who have not had an important purpose, but rather focused instead on material possessions, status or workaholism, usually feel completely lost when unemployed. These people must set about to discover what their purpose actually is in life since they’ve never really taken time to do so. Instead, they’ve spent their time on superficial pursuits, leaving them feeling empty. That emptiness grows when they are out of a job or retire.

In his book, Zelinski suggests answering the following to begin discovering your purpose:

To change the world I would like to_____________________.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could_________________________.

Someone with purpose whom I admire is_________________.

At the age of ninety I would like to look back and say this is what I’ve accomplished_______________.

I would get satisfaction in my life if I could________________.

Keep in mind that purpose is something to be sought out, it won’t coming knocking at your door. It’s what makes life worthwhile and brings joy. Finding a purpose in life is serious business. It can lead to a fulfilling new path!

“The secret of success is constancy of purpose” –Benjamin Disraeli

Creating Community

We spend many hours at work, in doing so, we create bonds with coworkers that become our support system. These people we see daily know much about us, and we know much about them, sharing life’s joys and sorrows. With little time to make friends otherwise, it’s no wonder that when we become unemployed, we feel a crushing void without our coworkers.

With the advent of “work at home” positions, when unemployment hits these folks, they especially feel isolated since they’ve not had the advantage of workplace socialization. These people will feel like social misfits and discover their ability to associate with others stunted because of their work situation. All the more reason to make time to network face-to-face and socialize with friends, if you choose this type of work.

What should the newly unemployed do? Meet quality people. Where do they congregate? Try nonprofits, art galleries, museums, libraries, places of worship, social clubs and professional networking events–just to name a few. Get involved with groups where you can meet like-minded people that have a purpose related to your own interests. Joining these people will energize you again and help you to feel part of a vibrant community. Networking opportunities abound in groups, so be sure to mention to people you are seeking employment. Find out what they do, perhaps they might pass along your resume to their supervisor.

“I don’t care to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.” –Groucho Marx

Don’t Discount Your Needs

Having structure, purpose and a sense of community is essential to your well-being. If feeling depressed or discouraged, reevaluate what you’re doing–or not doing–right now. What can you begin today to ensure you are addressing your basic needs for Structure, Purpose and Sense of Community? Make a list, then take action!

“Once in a while you have to take a break and visit yourself.”–Audrey Giorgi