Bill is 39. He worked for the same company for the past 8 years, as a Management Accountant. He did his work ok, but his real passion was restoring old cars. When he was told that his department was being restructured, and that he would have to compete with his colleagues for fewer positions with talk of redundancy in the air, he felt a mix of anger, guilt and anxiety.
How would you react if you were told your job was redundant? Would you panic or feel relieved? Would you take out that dormant self employment plan? Or maybe escape for a two week holiday? Or just take time to work out your future?
In my experience as a career counsellor, many people have a knee-jerk reaction to redundancy. They either rush headlong into frantic job search activities or too quickly into trying to embrace a long-held dream of running a small business.
It takes time to transition.
Redundancy = Transition
William Bridges, in his excellent book ‘Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes’ (2004), distinguished ‘change’ from ‘transition’. Change is the concrete event – you lose your job, you get married, you change country. Transition is the psychological process needed to adjust from one status quo to a new one.
Bridges described three stages we go through:
- ‘letting go’
- the ‘neutral zone’ and
- ‘new beginnings’.
At the letting go stage, we may feel a combination of shock, sadness and relief. The neutral zone is a mixed bag of anxiety, anger, guilt but can also yield creativity during this fertile arena of uncertainty. It helps to acknowledge, and not deny, the stage you are at.
To do that, try writing down those things you will and will not lose from the change you are going through. Perhaps you will lose a bunch of colleagues you liked, but you won’t lose your skills or experience. Maybe the new status quo will enable you to reap some gains? Try writing down these gains as well: for example, new contacts, learning, skills, a lifestyle aligned more with your values and needs, and so on.
At CCS, we help many people to get through this neutral zone, by taking time to clarify who they are and what they want.
Do book one of our free Introductory meetings to find out more about career coaching and how it can help you cope with redundancy.