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It's over! When you break up with your career

It begins like this:

Caller: " I know I'm going to be laid off in a few months. I have no idea what I'm going to do."

Me: "Would you like to start career coaching next week?"

Caller: "On no! I have so much to do here. Paperwork for severance. Employees to manage. I'm just not ready."

The wake-up call:

Caller: "Help! My severance will run out in five months. I need a new career -- fast!"

When you're working, unemployment seems far away. You see your desk, chair and computer. The phone rings. Colleagues stop by.

Negative events tend to be pushed to the hidden corners of your mind. "I will have six months of severance," you figure, "and outplacement."

A month or two after your job disappears, you get a wake-up call. You've lost three months -- one-fourth of a year.

How did this happen?

Once you face unemployment, your priority shifts to, "What next?" If you're a loyal, caring employee, that's tough.

"Zelda" said, "I don't have time to call a recruiter or interview my network for information. I have too much to do!"

"Tim" spent two weeks in a company training class, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I won't tell you to fake a dentist appointment.

However, senior managers have told me, "I wish my people would just use their medical and vacation time. I am not going to ask questions. I understand what they have to do."

How can you move forward?

"My company did a number on me," said Hortensia. "I want to work for employee protection services."

Hortensia needs to grieve her loss. Until you can make peace with your former job, you may not be able to move on.

"I'm terrified," said Kevin. "My savings are disappearing."

Kevin needs to create a rock-bottom worst case scenario. Fear should motivate you to take action. Being paralyzed by fear, especially irrational fear, calls for serious attention.

You need to grieve

Losing a job you love can be as painful as breaking off a relationship. If a friend were going through a bitter divorce, you'd expect them to go through a dysfunctional mourning period. Yet often we expect colleagues -- and ourselves -- to forge ahead with business as usual.

Most people make the change alone or with a supportive coach. They learn a new definition of time and an even newer definition of work. They learn to manage their time to cover their work responsibilities and their transition. In fact, they learn to use their company as a vehicle to move to their new life.

If you have trouble getting yourself to shift to future tense, don't wait. Once you're on your own, watching the money disappear, it's too easy to slip into panic mode.

Get moving!

Transition begins when you get moving . Find your new "partner." Six months from now, the old job will be a distant memory. And you'll be living an adventure you never believed possible.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast move to career freedom. Visit her site http://www.movinglady.com or call 505-534-4294.


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Career and life transition