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Have you ever been made redundant?

by Noemi Ripert
Cliquer ici pour la version française

Being made redundant can turn your life upside-down. But how do you deal with it?

I am sure a lot of people can relate to this subject, especially in the current economic climate. I for one can! I was made redundant last year. Although I was aware that I would be losing my job, receiving the news was still quite distressing.

The feelings and emotions

It is only normal to feel completely let down and helpless when you are told by your employer that you are being let go. Most people would go through a cycle of grief and pain before feeling positive again.

The most common emotions that you may feel if you have been made redundant are the following:
– Shock and/or denial
– Anger
– Guilt
– Depression
– Acceptance (or relief)

In most cases, I imagine, the first reaction to the news of being made redundant will be shock and maybe disbelief. You have to take the time for the news to sink in and to get used to the idea that soon you will no longer be employed.

Once the shock wears off, you might feel incredibly angry and frustrated. You will most probably be angry at the company and the people who have made you redundant. Even if you cannot do anything about it, it is ok to feel that way, and important to let that anger and frustration out.

Sometimes you will ask yourself if you did enough, you will question yourself as to why that decision was taken and if you could have done anything to avoid the situation. This is where the guilt comes in. But you cannot feel guilty for something which is totally beyond your control and for which you are not to blame. That much I know!

Just when your family and friends might tell you this is the moment to start reacting and see the positive side, but you on the contrary might start to sink into loneliness and feel despair. It is important to try not to get too deep into depression, and to get as much support as you can from your family, friends, and most importantly to seek professional advice.

When you can start to see the positive side and begin rebuilding your career, this is the upward turn, you have accepted your redundancy and you are moving forward. Take the time to think about what you want to do next, don’t rush. Take anything positive from the experience; use your redundancy as an opportunity.

If you wish to know more about the five stages of grief I invite you to read Elisabeth Kübler-Ross grief cycle model.

Stand up and fulfil your dreams

The personal impact of redundancy is often devastating. Anyone who goes through a redundancy will tell you the same thing: it is a difficult time. Not only because you have lost your livelihood, and this can be dramatic enough, but also because you have to get back on your feet no matter what. But how? Confidence and self-belief can be seriously affected. The stress of having to find another job can impact on your health, stress levels, libido, and ability to sleep. You may feel ashamed and embarrassed to tell your family and friends and feel as if you have let them down.

Being made redundant is something that obliges you to change. It obliges you to react and to make a decision as to what to do next. Believe me this is not that easy. Of course you can apply for numerous jobs, go to so many interviews, and if you are successful, so much the better. Unfortunately this does not happen to everyone. People struggle to find a new position, let alone one that they like. Nothing is easy and straightforward nowadays.

But would this not be the time to take the opportunity and do something for yourself? Being made redundant can sometimes open new doors and provide the potential for a viable new career. Maybe you can take courses, explore work opportunities in different industries, why not a career change? Many people use redundancy as a time to train, to start a new career or business venture.

If you take my example, it took me a while to make the final decision and to create my business. You yourself doubt whether you are making the right choice. Should I just not apply for a job with a permanent contract and a steady salary? I have a family to think of, I have a mortgage to pay…maybe this is too much of a risk? All these questions went through my head, again and again. But then I have often told myself in the past, one day I will be my own boss. One day I will stand up for myself and fulfil my dream. And in a way if I hadn’t been made redundant this would not have happened.

So, redundancy can be a valuable time for a fresh start, to perhaps consider doing things at this time in our lives that we may not have given much thought to in the past, to use this opportunity as a positive new beginning at the next stage of our lives.

It has been quite fashionable to quote Steve Jobs in the past years so I will do it as well here. In his 2005 Stanford Commencement speech, he mentioned all the ‘good’ being fired from Apple did to him:
“… I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful- tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

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