With 8,000 Telstra workers facing job loss and another 6,000 at National Australia Bank, many employees will begin the trudge towards the unemployment queue. As automation and clever software take the place of managers and workers in financial and other industries, unemployment is expected to increase in Australia.
NAB workers may appear fortunate as they were given a couple of months’ notice. That might not help though, given it’s no longer a matter of moving from one financial institution to another. People may have years of experience and be highly skilled, but they may simply see their roles evaporate and be replaced by automated processes utilising voice recognition and artificial intelligence.
Over a lifetime, we spend countless hours at work. For many of us, the days take on a shape that wraps around us, anchoring us to the rhythm of the week. But what happens when the wrapping comes undone and the freedom we once craved leads to a dark tunnel instead of blue sky?
FINDING YOURSELF SUDDENLY UNEMPLOYED IS A LITTLE LIKE A DEATH
It may not be completely unexpected, but it still shocks us to our core. They may well say, “It’s just business,” but it surely feels personal!
So often we identify ourselves by what we ‘do’ in the world. Then, if the ‘doing’ is stripped away, we can be faced with an existential crisis about our intrinsic value. Who am I? What am I doing on the planet? What’s my value as a man/woman? Am I living the life I came here to live? If not, why not and what am I going to do about it?
Some people considered these questions in their youth, but then relegated such reflection to history as they pursued careers and advancement. These or related questions, tend to surface at powerful change points in our lives and can engender both fear and uncertainty or excitement and opportunity, depending upon an individual’s perspective.
ADAPTING TO CHANGE WILL BE AN INCREASINGLY VALUABLE LIFE-SKILL
Especially as the workforce is remodelled over the coming years. Disruption shakes us out of our comfort zone and provides us with an opportunity to creatively tap into our unique response to changing circumstances.
No one likes to feel stuck in the quagmire of resistance, regret, resentment or blame about what could have/should have/was meant to have happened. These feelings are not just a state of mind. They potentially damage our health if we’re unable to move beyond them and, while stuck in their grip, we lose our creative capacity to see new possibilities. Our ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances is one of the greatest attributes of a robust resilience.
Fortunately, there is a great deal of practical knowledge about building our resilience and creativity in the face of rapidly changing circumstances. Operating from an inner equilibrium while in the midst of uncertainty is a powerful skill which fosters insightful, wise, compassionate and creative responses.
OUT OF CRISIS OFTEN COME UNEXPECTED BENEFITS
Having to re-invent ourselves when we already have what we thought was an ‘established career’ is very demanding. We have worked hard to achieve our position and its commensurate salary, only to have to start again from what feels like ‘scratch’. The potential for fear, anxiety or despair to take hold is very real, especially for people who have significant financial outgoings combined with poor self-awareness or inner resourcefulness.
Our role may have been made redundant, but we are not the role, we fulfilled a role! The role has gone but we’re very much still here and capable of adapting to the changed circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Here are some ideas for how to reinvent yourself.
- What are the upsides of being made redundant? Do you have more time? Are there skills you could develop? Information/qualifications you could acquire?
- Allow yourself to wallow … then get back up. Put a time-frame around how long you will allow yourself to wallow in self-pity/anger/despair/anxiety and then shift your attention to something else.
- Get professional help if you need to. It’s incredibly useful to have a mentor, a touch-stone, a witness, a coach to support or encourage us or cheer us on. Consider asking for help through times of uncertainty.
- Self-worth. Remember all the other areas in your life in which you feel successful; your friendships, your sporting capacities, your family, your hobbies.
- Surround yourself with people who ‘get’ you. Draw on your friendships and family and let them know how you are feeling. Don’t be afraid to cut people out of your life who undermine, criticise or negate you.
- Volunteer. Creating or contributing to other people’s happiness is one of the greatest gifts available to humankind. Giving and receiving are the same. The giver is equally blessed.
- Develop new skills in building your resilience … meditation, journaling, learning communication skills, emotional literacy and regulation, living with emotional and spiritual awareness.
If you need help in reinventing yourself, Quest for Life’s Healing Your Life program provides a wealth of practical skills, strategies and tools for living a meaningful life in difficult circumstances. On this 5-day residential intensive group education program you’ll learn tools and strategies to:
- Develop a clear map forward in your life
- Feel confident in your ability to skilfully embrace your challenges
- Know how to create an environment for healing
- Feel optimistic, empowered and capable
- Appreciate your story and your potential
- Respond rather than react to stressful situations
- Calm your mind so that you can think more clearly
- Understand the benefits of, and how to build meditation in, to your daily routine
Quest for Life can help you work through what to do when you lose your job through our program. Learn more about Healing Your Life…