How To Turn Job Loss Into An Opportunity

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How To Turn Job Loss Into An Opportunity

Words by Mr David Waters

5 March 2020

“Instead of seeing problems as, well, problems, we should reframe them as chances”

During the months we worked together, these painful truths slowly became clear to Keith as he started to take some responsibility for what had happened to him and shifted towards a more flexible mindset. In a memorable session, Keith said, “I can see now I could have been much better at letting my team know what I was expecting from them and letting them come to me with problems.” We smiled at each other, recognising how different a perspective Keith had now compared with the rage born from his wounded pride in our early sessions.

In a session a week later, I suggested that we do a visualisation together to help him find a way forward. I asked Keith to close his eyes and think back to his best day ever when he was just eight years old. It could be a specific memory or moment. He just had to be having fun. Was he outside or indoors? Alone or with others? What was he doing? And what was it precisely that made this so much fun?

Keith started smiling as he described helping his grandfather make shelves in his workshop. “It was just the two of us and he let me use a saw,” said Keith. “I’d never used a saw on my own before. It was just brilliant. I can remember the smell of the wood, too, and that we were making this brand new thing that had never existed before.”

Listening to this memory I picked up on things that were lacking in the job Keith had just lost. Physically making something practical. Being taught by an older, wiser person. Being in a sensory environment.

When we are children (around the age of seven or eight), we show something of our true selves that can often get hidden in adolescence and into adulthood as we become more self-conscious and squeeze ourselves to fit the expectations of others. Additionally, some scientific studies have shown that children begin to form long-term memory around this age (and forget much of what came before). Eight is also the age at which we begin to have a degree of freedom from our parents’ control, which allows us more personal expression. If we can tap in to what excited us most as kids, we can gain a powerful insight into the kinds of things we should be doing as adults.

“I’d forgotten all about making stuff with Grandad,” said Keith as he opened his eyes. “It was so much fun. He was a brilliant teacher, too. God, I miss him.” Keith told me he hadn’t made anything in years. Where this might lead Keith we’re still figuring out, but, for now, as he plans his next career move, he no longer struggles to fill his time. He signed up for a woodworking course later that day.

Illustration by Ms Stefania Infante