In March 2016, human resources professional Nicola Nolan was made redundant, here she talks about how she turned it into a positive.
The whole process was an emotional rollercoaster and I struggled to cope with the full force of the change. Even though I was assured it was my role, not me, that was no longer tenable my overriding feelings were of rejection and despondency.
Being in human resources I knew exactly how people are expected to feel at various points of the redundancy process, but that didn’t help. I knew I should focus on the glowing reviews, peer awards, testimonials and exceeded targets I’d achieved but all I did was question myself: what did I do wrong? If I was so great, why didn’t they fight to keep me? Who can I trust? Where do I go from here? What is my purpose now?
Take the time to find the right job rather than rush into the first one
I could have panicked and jumped online to secure another job straight away. But instinctively I felt I’d regret making a knee-jerk decision about my future. Instead I took some time out.
You need to go through a grieving process after redundancy, just as you would when you lose someone close to you. It may seem like a silly comparison, but given you probably spend five days’ a week focussing on your job, most people spend more time at work and with colleagues than with anyone else. If you don’t grieve and process what’s happened it’ll impact how you search for jobs and potentially how you perform in an interview.
So, I called my husband and asked him to throw our camping gear in the car. We hit the road the next day, driving for eight hours to a sleepy seaside town in northern Western Australia. We pitched our tent and lived simply for two weeks – I wrote my diary, read books, drank wine, lay on the beach and slept a lot. It gave me the perfect space to think about recent events and what to do when I returned to reality.
What did I decide? Rather than retreating to lick my wounds, which is usually what I do when I’m hurt and vulnerable, I did the opposite. When I got back I talked to colleagues, friends and family about what had happened and how I felt. They told me I was a good person, that I was valued and should believe in myself. They said this was the time to chase my dreams.
These champions, my cheerleaders, reminded me of past adversities and how I’d shown my strength of character during those times. Without their words, it would have taken me so much longer to heal. The warmth I received was in stark contrast to the clinically executed redundancy process. Talking was my attempt to make sense of what had happened and enabled people to give me positive love, support and encouragement.
This gave me the strength to take control of my future, which is important when you’re faced with uncertainty. I’ve established a business of my own, using my corporate experience to provide coaching and development support to individuals and organisations going through change. I’m also working freelance on projects for a couple of national businesses. I feel like I’m in charge of my career and love the variety and flexibility of my new life.
The whole process taught me how important it is to take time to think constructively about your future and to talk to people about your situation. The encouragement and support I got helped me back on my feet and gave me the confidence to pursue my new goals.
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