Essentially, there are two ways a career will end: happily because you want it to or sadly because you do not. Faced with redundancy or early retirement (no matter what rumours have been circulating with regards the day of reckoning) hits hard and it is personal. Once you have been given a seat in the departure lounge, there is very little likelihood of the decision being reversed.
The first piece of advice I would give to anyone in this position is do not be an ostrich. Sticking your head in the sand is the worst action you can take. Most people will go through a range of emotions, from anger to self-pity to disbelief, but the sooner they can move through it to the point they are excited and looking forward to a new challenge the better.
My second piece of advice would be do not wallow. It will not help at all. It will only drag you down, potentially spoiling special parts of your personal life that you worked hard to achieve.
If you ask people to tell you something about themselves, most will start with what they do for a living. This is because, typically, our identity is wrapped up in what we do as a job. Little time is spent understanding what we really want to be.
As we move up the career ladder, we get swept along in the rewards it brings, in believing that the more we earn the better it will be and the more security we will have.
At aged 20 we are full of hope and ideas, with hobbies and passions. At 40 we are much more likely to be what we do, with all the hope forgotten as work becomes a much bigger part of us.
To successfully reinvent ourselves, we need to know more about ourselves and be in a position to make well thought-out decisions. The first question to ask is: what are you leaving behind that you will miss most? Answers can be commonly sorted under five headings: relationships, structure, purpose, power and identity.
The second question should be: what do you want the next chapter of your life to have in it? Now is the time to start thinking about the things that did not seem as important as working, earning reputation and money. Now is the time to take control. What are your skills? What are you passionate about?
Tip number one was to not be an ostrich. Rephrase this into the positive: stand tall and look around you. Be interested. Tip number two was to not wallow. Recall with pride what you did well, where you made your mark and how you can do this again, only better because you have more experience. It will dawn on you that other companies would seriously benefit from working with you if they are lucky enough to get you. Be interesting.
One final thought for you: when you find yourself thinking ‘I can’t believe the company has done this to me’ remember the company is not a person. It cannot care about you. You have allowed yourself to become emotionally bound to a role. Is that what you planned for your life?
Penny Whitelock is founder of Improve Managers