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  • Starting Over – grieve, let go and then move on

    “The only thing constant in life is change.” François de la Rochefoucauld (1613 – 1680)

    In reading the multitude of media sources, which bombard us daily, we know the rate of change is ever increasing. Even with this knowledge many people still are surprised and angered when they need to start over and re-invent themselves. It hits the over 40 crowd and the under 40 crowd, no one is immune. Any time you start to feel comfortable you are at risk. To me, being comfortable means you are on the flat part of the learning curve and no longer growing.

    When you are faced with the need to re-start your career or start-over what should you do?

    To embrace change you have to let go of the old comfortable patterns. To do that you must grieve before you can move on. Change involves loss at some level. During my college years I had to read the book “On Death and Dying”, by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Initially this was focused on the medical community and the death of a loved one. She later expanded this concept to apply to any form of catastrophic personal loss or tragic news. The loss of a job is tragic news for the person impacted. As an individual you need to “grieve” for your job and the circumstances you find yourself in. Although it is important to recognize the emotions you are experiencing you cannot wallow in self-pity. The process may not be linear, but you need to go through all the steps.

    To adapt to change you need to understand the 5 phases of grief, acknowledge your own personal emotions and then move on. I clearly remember the time when I realized that my dream job was not going to last forever. The Fortune 500 company I worked for would stop growing and employment levels would decline. Since 1980, the decline has been drastic; 120,000 to 17,000, an 85% reduction. However, I knew that if I did not take charge of my emotions and career, no one else would. It was important to see change as an opportunity not a set-back. I personally allowed myself 24 hours to grieve. That is a bit short, but again, you cannot dwell on the negative. It does not move you forward.

    Listed below are the 5 stages of grief, developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

    1. Denial: “This can’t be happening, not to me.”
    2. Anger: “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”
    3. Bargaining: “I’ll do anything, can’t you stretch it out a year?”
    4. Depression: “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”
    5. Acceptance: “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

    Additional background can be found on this site, as well as many other websites.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model

    How can you use this information to help with the initial question?
    As an individual, recognize that change is part of life. Take charge of managing your career. Pay attention to what is going on in the economy overall. Learn how to grieve, let go and move on.
    If you are a supervisor understand that employees need to take time to internalize change. Acknowledge and accept that they will experience a variety of emotions. Help them with their journey.
    The future will come, whether we plan for it or not.

    Published on March 13, 2012 · Filed under: Career Planning, Coaching, Leadership, Supervision; Tagged as: , , , , ,
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