They say losing your job is one of the top three major life stresses, up there with divorce and death.
You only die once… and most people probably won’t divorce more then two or three times in their life… but we can all lose our job over a dozen times in our career. If we change jobs every five years, and we start at age 20 and retire at age 65, we’ll change jobs 9 times.If we change jobs every three years, and we start at age 20 and retire at age 66, we’ll change jobs 15 times.
I met a guy last year who had been laid off 26 times. Imagine, 26 pink slips… and he wasn’t retired yet!
Why is this so stressful? Why does it rank up there with death and divorce? Here are some things I lost when I lost my job:
The ability to pay my own way. I’m quite independent, as I’m guessing you are. I like to pay for my own stuff, from a movie ticket to my car payment to my house payment…
The security I feel with insurance. Life insurance, and health insurance. I felt extremely naked as I lost these two things, which added to the stress in a big way.
Respect. I lost respect from others, who judged me because I lost my job (just as I had judged others… what a dork was to judge). Worse, I started to lose respect for myself.
My identity. I went from Jason the General Manager to Jason the ???. That was hard. In a society where we identify ourselves with our titles, losing the title was pretty devastating and left me in a state of confusion for a while.
My place in society. I was no longer able to contribute time or money the way that I had before, and felt more like a leach than someone who was adding value to the world.
My confidence. I was pretty self-confident before I got let go. I was even confident during the first couple of weeks, but as my job search stretched through the weeks and months I questioned whether I really had what it took to be an employee. Should I start from the beginning, and get an entry-level job?
Some of my “friends.” This was weird… to be quite chummy with the guys at the office, sharing personal experiences, enjoying personal successes, developing personal relationships. And then, with the pink slip, comes the fine print that almost says “you can’t communicate with the guys from the office anymore.” I didn’t expect that to be a side-effect, but it was. And losing friends like that hurt.
Yes, it’s stressful, and painful. We should be prepared for this recurring event, though, and with that preparation it doesn’t have to be so despairing!
What did YOU lose when you lost your job?