• Kevin Nourse, PhD

Intentional Resiliency: Thriving in job loss and transition

Viktor Frankl, a psychologist and writer who survived as a prisoner during the Holocaust, observed how the ability to make meaning from challenges people face is a key ingredient to growth. He also concluded that regardless of the ​

​painful circumstances we face, nobody can take away our ability to choose our attitude toward the adversity. When people choose to grow from tough times such as job loss, they are more likely to thrive in the face of adversity. In this article, I present the Intentional Resiliency framework and supporting strategies developed in partnership with my colleague Dr. Lynn Schmidt.

The Challenge of Losing a Job

Fifteen years ago, I started my coaching practice working with individuals who had lost their jobs after massive layoffs resulting from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Many of my clients described how they felt sad, depressed, angry, and shocked. None of them ever expected to lose their jobs and most felt a tremendous anxiety on how to conduct a job search.

As with achieving any goal, people are more successful in finding a new job when they take consistent action over time. In essence, finding a job becomes your job when you are unemployed. Many of my clients immediately focused on the tactical aspects of career transition, such as resume revision or interview skills. Just as important in this process is sustaining your ability to weather the ups and downs of the process. In order to help my clients sustain their job search efforts, I frequently coached them on how to cope and manage themselves so they could sustain their resiliency.

Intentional Resiliency Framework

The Intentional Resiliency Framework consists of six strategies that you can use to increase your resiliency in navigating a job loss. Beyond simply surviving a job loss, this framework can help you thrive in your career transition. The six strategies include:

  • Strengthening your support networks to augment your ability to cope with adversity and regain balance.

  • Clarifying your sense of purpose by understanding your values, passions, vision, mission, and goals to boost your sense of optimism, align your behavior, and take action.

  • Building self-awareness of your thoughts and emotions to improve your capacity to manage your behavior.

  • Enhancing self-care, including your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, to increase your energy and inoculate yourself against stress.

  • Actualizing your strengths as a means to build confidence, gain the courage to take risks, and achieve greater results.

  • Broadening your coping skills, including the ability to reframe adversity and make conscious choices that lead to your thriving and growing, not just surviving.

These six strategies, used individually or as a whole, can make a dramatic impact on your ability to sustain your career transition efforts over time.

Applying the Strategies: The Case of Maria

Maria, a financial analyst in a healthcare organization, was on a fast track for career advancement until her organization hired a new manager in her department. Almost immediately, the relationship soured based on substantial differences in their personality styles. Eventually, she was asked to leave the company. After a few days of feeling sad and angry, Maria realized she needed to take action to move forward. Upon reflection, Maria recognized the need to explore four of the Intentional Resiliency strategies: strengthening support networks, broadening coping skills, clarifying purpose, and building self-awareness.

Let us explore how she applied one of these strategies in more detail. Maria reached out to five of her closest friends and former colleagues to let them know what happened. After venting her frustration with what happened, she asked them if they would be willing to support her in the journey to find a new job. Specifically, she made arrangements to meet with one of her supporters weekly to provide accountability for taking action and making sure she didn't isolate herself. Maria's efforts in reaching out to these supporters were so effective that they began to look out for opportunities for her. Over time, Maria also began to be aware of opportunities to support her closest friends and colleagues also in recognition of the importance of reciprocation.

Maria’s efforts at maintain her resiliency to drive her actions in a job search eventually resulted in a new role that was a good match for her strengths and interests. She has moved past the painful experience of losing her job and thrived despite it. Like others who are committed to reframing the threat of losing a job as an opportunity, Maria has been transformed by this challenge. Like many of my clients who have lost their jobs as a result of organizational downsizing, Maria sees her job loss as a blessing and feels a greater sense of optimism for what the future holds.

For more information about the Intentional Resiliency framework, please click here.

#jobloss #adversity #resilience #coping #women


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