10 Days of Self-Reflection from a Job Loss

  Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Our jobs are more than a paycheck. They impact how we see ourselves and how others see us. Even if you didn't enjoy your job, it provided you with a social outlet and gave your life structure, purpose, and meaning. Being laid off unexpectedly can leave you feeling hurt, angry, or depressed. You can start doubting your own identity, ruminating on what you lost, or worrying about your financial future. 

Losing your job is one of life's most stressful events. Aside from the obvious financial difficulties, losing a job can significantly impact your attitude, relationships, and overall mental and emotional well-being.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people worldwide have lost their employment or other means of income. While the widespread, unprecedented nature of this hardship means you shouldn't feel responsible for your circumstances, this may be of little consolation when you're worried about paying bills and feeding your family. Fortunately for you, we are here to help!

The 10 Day Challenge

If you or someone you know is going through something similar, we have a well-balanced and thought-out 10-day step-by-step guide to recover from the shock of being unemployed. This journal challenge has been carefully designed to encourage self-reflection through expressing writing and is bound to help you make the most out of this uncertain period in your life. It includes a step to go through each day and finishes with a thought-provoking question to answer in your JournalOwl journal. It's that simple. 

At JournalOwl, we believe that you can take something terrible and turn it into a learning experience for yourself through the influence of introspection on journaling as a creative outlet. Let's go through 10 days of hard soul searching without further ado.

Step 1: Grieve 

According to psychology, grief is the body's normal response to loss, not merely psychological but also physical, which is why the best way to start is to nurture the heartbreak. Dr. James Pennebaker, an American social psychologist, hypothesized that men who used journal writing therapy could work through their anger and hatred toward the employer that had laid them off. Still, men who didn't process their emotions in writing may have accidentally shown similar feelings during job interviews in the future.

What things upset you the most about losing your job?

While everyone grieves in their way, there are healthy and destructive ways to mourn a job loss. For comfort, it's all too simple to fall back on bad habits like binge drinking or overeating junk food. However, these will only provide temporary comfort and make you feel worse in the long run. Recognizing your emotions and confronting your negative beliefs through writing, on the other hand, will assist you in dealing with the loss and moving forward. It will also give you a mouthpiece to express your fears, an outlet that is seldom offered to us. 

Step 2: Avoid Constant Self-Blame 

When you're unemployed, it's tempting to start judging or blaming yourself. It's critical, however, to avoid lowering yourself down. While you're looking for new work, you'll need to maintain your self-assurance. Every negative notion you have should be challenged. If you find yourself thinking, "I'm a loser," put down proof to the contrary: "I lost my job because of so and so, not because I was a lousy employee.", etc. 

What are the circumstances that led up to your unemployment?

There have been studies linked to depressive disorders formed through constant self-blame. The study tracked the moods and behavior of people to find out that the most closely co-occurring and consistent symptoms they faced due to self-blame were feelings of inadequacy, sad mood, and hopelessness. 

Writing about the circumstances of your unemployment may allow you to look at them objectively. Ultimately, you can chalk it down to happenstance. 

Step 3: Evaluate Your Choices 

According to a new Pew Research Center poll, about half of Americans who are currently unemployed or temporarily laid off and looking for work are uncertain and pessimistic about their future employment prospects. The majority say they've seriously considered changing fields or occupations since they've been unemployed. However, this may be the perfect opportunity for you to work for the career path you've always wanted.

What long-term goals did you set for yourself, and have you achieved them?

Perhaps your unemployment has allowed you to reevaluate your professional priorities and reflect on what you want out of life. Perhaps it has strengthened you. You might be able to locate something useful if you look hard enough. If you can discover a lesson in your loss, the feelings that come with losing a job will be simpler to swallow. That can be difficult at such a low time in your life, but this is a great time to evaluate your goals and lifestyle. You may realize that you can do something better than your last job and make the most out of the career you want. 

Step 4: Don't Let Your Job Define You 

Work molds our identities and determines who we are for many of us. After all, one of the first things people ask when they meet someone new is, "What do you do?" We lose our sense of self when we lose our jobs. Alison Green is the founder of the advice blog Ask a Manager.

"If you're conscientious and you like what you do, it's very easy to get your identity all tied up with your job," she says, "And not just the job itself, but the idea of yourself as someone who's really good at what you do. That's a very powerful thing." She goes on to say: "There is this dark side to it that you don't really spot until it's no longer a force for good in your life."

What other activities bring purpose and joy into your life?

Researchers urge us to stop thinking of work-life balance as a binary goal that you either attain or fail to accomplish. If you have things to fill the page with, that's a good start. You may reiterate that these things, not your employment status, define you as a person. If you're blanking on this question, this is a good time to do some introspection and write down things you would pursue if it weren't for your job schedule. 

Step 5: Self-Care is Important 

Job loss and unemployment can negatively impact your health and make you more sensitive to mental health issues. It's more vital than ever to look for oneself. Allowing your job search to overwhelm you is a bad idea. Make time for pleasure, leisure, and relaxation, whatever it takes to recharge your batteries. Your job hunt will be more effective if you are cognitively, emotionally, and physically fit.

How can you change your routine to incorporate better physical and mental health practices?

In your answer, focus on creating a proper schedule where you list down an appropriate time for exercise, the addition of healthy food to your diet, and, of course, a good sleep routine. Distraction, self-efficacy, and social interaction have all been presented as explanations for the positive effects of physical activity on mental health. For persons going through difficult times, lifestyle adjustments that emphasize the accumulation and increase of moderate-intensity activity throughout the day may be the most appropriate. Your answer needs to accompany motivation to switch to healthy habits. 

Step 6: Hone Your Skills 

Degrees are really nothing more than pieces of paper if you are unemployed. It is impossible to be too well educated or informed not to desire to develop new (marketable) talents. Developing new abilities and looking for work are not mutually exclusive, and no more incredible drive exists than the will to survive and earn a living. 

What skills do I want to acquire during this time, and how will they benefit me personally and professionally?

Learning helps to keep your mind active and your body engaged. It aids you in attaining new and informed insights into the world around you. It most definitely allows you to expand your horizons, train your brain to deal with a variety of obstacles, and keep your neural networks active. 

In her 2007 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck, a prominent Stanford psychologist, claims that IQ, talent, or education doesn't distinguish successful people. It's their mentality or how they tackle life's difficulties. The assumption that your intelligence, talents, and other attributes are fixed is known as a fixed mindset. You believe you were born with a specific set of abilities that you can't change. If you have a growth mindset, you feel that you can improve your innate abilities through hard work, perseverance, and determination.

According to Dweck, via your experiences, training, and effort, you may develop your skills, abilities, talents, and even IQ.

It's critical to narrow down the seemingly endless range of abilities available to those you want to acquire. While this may seem self-evident, be sure that at least the majority of the talents you wish to master (shortly) are connected to your field/industry/position. Next, most talents individuals desire to master are composed of a series of sub-skills, or smaller skills, that combine to form a more complicated skill. For example, if you want to learn to play the guitar well, you'll need to learn sub-skills like reading music, strumming patterns, chord characteristics, and more.

Step 7: Reach Out To Loved Ones

Because unemployment impacts the entire family, don't handle your difficulties alone. Keeping your job loss hidden will exacerbate the situation. Even throughout this trying time, your family's support can help you survive and thrive.

Open up to your loved ones. Even if you pride yourself on being tough and self-sufficient, now is the moment to lean on the people who care about you, whether to relieve tension or cope with the pain of job loss. Keep them informed about a change in career or your job search and let them know how they can help.

What are some of the toughest moments of your life your loved ones got you through, and how?

According to a publication by Patricia Thomas et al., family relationships last a lifetime and significantly impact one's well-being. For better or worse, family interactions play a critical part in developing an individual's well-being. As people get older, their needs for caring increase, and social ties in other areas of their lives, such as employment, become less significant. These relationships may become even more crucial to their well-being. Of course, by here, we mean family by blood and family by choice. As you sit to remember and write some of the things your loved ones did for you, you'll realize that it's their support that you'll need when you're going through unemployment.

Step 8: Don't Hide, Network 

You could withdraw from friends and family out of shame or embarrassment during this challenging time. When you're dealing with the stress of job loss and unemployment, don't overlook the importance of other people. Nature's remedy to stress is social contact. Nothing beats conversing face to face with a good listener for soothing your nervous system.

When we lose our employment, we often lose friendships and social networks at work. However, it's never too late to widen your social network outside of work. It can be helpful in both coping with the stress of losing your job and obtaining a new one.

The great majority of job postings are filled through networking rather than advertising. Even if you're an introvert or don't know many people, networking doesn't have to be daunting or laborious when it comes to getting a job.

What are the most important networking channels that I can tap today? How can I better present myself to others?

Listing down your networks and their requirements will help bring light to your strengths and weaknesses for better evaluation. Experts agree that your networking abilities are directly related to your success. This is why the most connected people are the most successful. Investing in personal and professional ties will pay off in the long run. It would be best if you kept a pulse on the job market, remain updated on current trends, and meet potential clients, partners, and mentors by connecting with people. In addition to helping you grow and improve your abilities, networking gives you access to the tools you need to advance your profession. 

Dr. Christine Buske is the product manager at Mendeley, an academic, social media site. She has lectured in neuroscience and studied behavioral psychology. She claims she was highly timid until her early twenties and was terrified of public speaking and mixer gatherings. Buske's job objectives, on the other hand, led her to confront her fears until she got desensitized. She claims that while introverts will always be nervous during networking events, practicing will help them perform better.

"You can't change your personality, but you can change your behavior and your reactions to a given situation," says Buske. "If you are very nervous about networking, the best thing you can do is to do more of it.

Step 9: Rework Your Resume 

A resume is a collection of work from past jobs that you can exhibit to a recruiter or hiring manager. You can publish your portfolio on a website, give a presentation, or print out copies of your outstanding work and save them in a binder. Portfolios are a terrific method to demonstrate your actual accomplishments instead of just listing them on your CV as bullet points. You may gain confidence in your abilities due to constructing your portfolio.

What are your strengths and weaknesses, how often do they present themselves in your work and personal life?

The primary purpose is to follow introspection and become familiar with your accomplishments and wantings. Introspection is also a term used to describe a study technique created by psychologist Wilhelm Wundt. Wundt's technique, also known as experimental self-observation, entailed teaching people to study the content of their thoughts as carefully and objectively as possible. Introspection can provide a wealth of personal information. It can assist people in making connections between their various experiences and reactions.

Once you are familiar with your work and life experiences, you can better organize them into a portfolio or resume to look for a job in the future. 

Step 10: Look For New Opportunities 

When you lose a job, it's sometimes the most significant thing you can do is look for a new one. If you've given some serious thought to the type of job you want or looking into changing your career, narrowing down your options should be more accessible. However, applying for other jobs can take some time. Make a plan for job hunting and application, such as how many jobs you'll apply for in a week or a commitment to spend only a specific amount of time looking for new opportunities every day.

Question: 

What are some of the things you've learned while being unemployed, and has it changed you as a person?

Once you start applying for jobs, there is an excellent chance that life will hand you another opportunity soon. When periods of tough goings end, we tend to forget all that we have been through and start to take things for granted again. Writing down the most critical aspects of your self-reflection journey will help you realize that you are not the same person you were when you were employed. That's not a bad thing because if you hadn't been free to follow through to your last day, you might have never found the strength to look yourself in the mirror and decide that you have the potential to live a better life, a life that you want. 

To reiterate once again, we at JournalOwl stand by the brilliant and effective method of journaling therapy. Hence, to help you on this journey of self-reflection, you can sign up to our website for a daily online journal. Write your thoughts down no matter where you are with us!

Health Disclaimer

JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.

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