July 17, 2012 | By: Laurie Campbell

Lost your job? Keep your head.

They come to us here at Credit Canada Debt Solutions looking as glum as a grey day in January. Invariably, the story unfolds that they’ve lost employment and life’s been downhill ever since. The bills pile up, the worry grows, and now the wolves are at the door. Our first response to them is to say that for whatever miss steps they’ve taken since losing work, they’ve made the right choice calling on friends who can help them put their finances, and their lives, in order. Losing a job is never the end of the world. In fact, it could be a whole new beginning depending on your outlook.

Ideally, unemployed souls should not reach a point in their lives where they have to seek out our credit counselling services. Though the shock and worry of being unemployed can be very stressful, it is also a testing ground, and should be looked at from the point of view of being a challenge that you are fully capable of tackling. Attitude, as they say, is everything, since it frames the whole world we inhabit. For those who have recently lost work, I offer four simple rules of thumb to follow at the starting gate of a new life.

• Keep your head. Don’t panic or blame yourself. Stay focused to take charge of things.

• Talk to others. Speak openly about your problem to family, friends, and associates who can provide spiritual and maybe even material support.

• Take stock of things. Look at your whole financial situation. What money and assets do you have? What money may be coming in (especially benefits and insurance)? What money needs to go out?

• Develop a plan. Put a game plan together to find work, and to budget, cut spending and deal with your creditors.

Now, let me tell you about my friend, Wendy, who at 42 is a shining example of someone who made all the right moves after losing her job a few months ago. She kept her head, she reached out, she took stock, and she created a game plan when an international beauty and cosmetics company let her go after her ten years of service, first as a sales rep and later as a regional sales manager. I won’t go into the details of why she lost her job, but I will say that Wendy’s attitude after receiving notice was not one of doom and gloom, it was more along the lines of the saying, living well is the best revenge.

So what was Wendy’s action plan? Well, the same week she lost her job, she set a new personal budget, allowing for contingencies over time if she did not find work in her field of interest (sales and marketing in cosmetics), and setting goals for the work that interests her. She got a new email address and alerted everyone far and wide about it, then she gave her resume a facelift and let all her friends and associates know online – through LinkedIn and Facebook - that she was a free agent eager to explore new possibilities. At the same time, she had nothing bad to say about her previous employer; she accented the positive, rather than the negative. She got a snappy new business card, listing her as an independent sales and marketing consultant, with her home address as her office.

From that point onward, Wendy treated every day of the workweek as a day on the job, and took weekends off, pretending in a way that she was not out of work. In essence, life proceeded apace on her terms. During the week, she was on the phone scheduling networking meetings and reading up on activities in her professional sphere, including shows, conferences, and professional groups.

She took lunch and rubbed elbows with people not necessarily with a view to asking them about the possibility of work, but for advice and consultation. In the process, she found that others generally are most willing to engage, and are charmed by the fact that they are being sought out for advice. Wendy also developed a full list of online job sites - as well as Web sites for companies relating to her field of work - which she assiduously visited.

As a part of her plan, Wendy also scheduled time everyday to work out, and to enjoy quiet, meditative moments. Mornings, she would jog on a path leading to a verdant river valley, rife with trees, and flowers, and birds. After the workout, during the cool down, there were some large stones along the path where she would sit and rest and take in a view of the river. It was here that she pondered what she would like to be doing for her next act in life. She allowed herself to dream a little, imagining how she might turn and use her skills in a new arena. She opened up to the possibility of exploring new areas, which opened up a much larger field of job opportunities.

And wouldn’t you know, within a couple of months, she connected with someone in packaged goods (food and beverages) who was looking for a middle manager with her range of experience in sales and marketing.

“I’m selling grape juice now,” Wendy told me recently with a grin.

To which I can only say, sweet.


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