We are delighted to be hosting a series of blogs from Heidi Wheatley, an experienced marketing executive who finds herself in transition. You can find her first blog – “Seeing the opportunity in transition” here.
The First 24 Hours of Transition
Whether you’ve been downsized, laid off, restructured or mutually agree that you are not the right fit, the sting of finding yourself on the “other end” of the conversation inflicts the same amount of pain. The bruise to your professional ego, panic about what to do next, realization that all those deadlines, projects and people you’ve been managing are no longer your concern combined with going from 150 mph to a dead stop could induce even the strongest among us into a panic attack.
Take a Deep Breath
Those first moments after you leave the office may feel like an out-of-body experience. What about this deadline? What about that meeting? Recognizing the years you’ve spent pouring your energy (weekends, evenings, vacations) into a company that no longer requires your services is very painful and how that makes you feel shouldn’t be discounted. Take some time for yourself – drive around the city, go for a walk, sit on a park bench – do something that gives you space to absorb the impact. While I don’t believe in self-pity, I do believe there is power in acknowledging how you are truly feeling (especially over the hours, days and weeks to come) in order to ready yourself to forge a new path.
Make the Calls
The task I found most challenging was calling the people in my life that needed to know – family, close friends and respected colleagues. My family and close friends new I was unhappy and seeking a change – but even so, I found myself going into crisis communication mode – planning my “comments” and finding a way to “spin” my message so I could deflect sympathy (which I detest) and eliminate their need to panic which they certainly would if I didn’t craft my “statement” perfectly. While it’s ok to put on a brave front, you will definitely want to have someone that can take the brunt of your emotions – anxiety, fear, anger and self-doubt – so you can be transparent and work through them with a confidant that will be your cheerleader. For me, that person is my sister. I’m not saying she’s the only person that I confide in, but she is the only person I am fully transparent with – she hears and sees all the ups and downs on this new path. As executives, we are self-sufficient, in control and always projecting confidence. We are supporting and encouraging of others and the role reversal can be incredibly uncomfortable. But the people to whom you are closest can offer support and encouragement on this new journey – the key is to let them in.
Do something nice for yourself. Whether that’s a generous pour of your favorite red wine, reading an extra story to your children before bedtime or taking your dog on a long walk it’s important now, and over the coming days and weeks, to be kind to yourself and do things you enjoy. Even employed, searching for a new position is not for the faint of heart. It’s full of highs and lows and makes taking care of yourself a necessity, not a nicety. This may also be the first time in your life that you haven’t been sprinting from one meeting, decision, call or business trip to the next and your body and mind can benefit greatly from a break – so seize the opportunity to rest and take part in activities you normally cannot – starting today.
As disconcerting as you may find transition to be, you can seize this opportunity to enhance or change the narrative of your professional and personal lives. Your work ethic, passion and expertise have helped you build a successful career and those traits will serve you well in charting a new course too. Acknowledge how you feel, be kind to yourself and allow others to support you. The road ahead will be full of peaks and valleys so buckle up for the journey and find excitement in the space between your recent and future positions.
We’d like to thank Heidi for sharing her experience with our members and guests. We know from member feedback how much it has been appreciated. You can find Heidi’s first post here, and this is Heidi’s Linkedin profile.
As disconcerting as you may find transition to be, you can seize this opportunity to enhance or change the narrative of your professional and personal lives.