Making Job Loss A Positive Learning Experience
Dear Dr. LeCrone:
I was laid off from my upper management manufacturing job about a year ago, and my savings are almost depleted. I have really tried, but I have not been able to find a job utilizing my past education and experience and that offers benefits that enable me to maintain my current lifestyle.
The thought of working in a job that requires very little education or experience and comparative low pay is beyond my comprehension. My lowered self-esteem has caused me to experience a lack of initiative and extreme pessimism about my future. Please address this problem, which I believe is being experienced by many people at this time.
-A reader in Ohio
My personal and professional experiences both relate to your situation.
After completing my master’s degree in psychology, I diligently entered the job market only to find that there were no jobs available in my line of work.
My forthcoming marriage necessitated a radical shift in my career plans, as I had no intention of taking a bride without some means of supporting her. Facing no other options, I began working for minimum wage in 100 degree heat loading sacks of wheat into box cars. Taking this job necessitated shedding my pride in order to open a door that an oversized ego would have kept shut.
One of the many things that I learned from this experience was the need to broaden my skills and prepare for a lifetime of career diversity. Continuing my formal graduate education, which resulted in a doctorate, was one outcome of this fortuitous experience. It also helped me see the need to become a lifelong learner.
Over the years I have known many people who had to ratchet down their employment expectations and take a job, or even several jobs, that required less education and/or experience for less money. These humbling experiences can serve as very valuable milestones in a person’s life. Often, a job loss can lead to new education and training, a shift in career focus and, most importantly, a healthy re-evaluation of your whole perspective on the truly important things you should look for in your future.
Stumbling and even falling in life give us an opportunity to learn to maintain better balance, one of life’s greatest virtues. Walt Disney is said to have coined the phrase: “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.”
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 2009