This week, we have asked a dear client, friend, and colleague to share her experience and her strategies for finding her way back to herself after a layoff. We know that life offers us many opportunities to find ways back to ourselves and she has much to teach:

Moving Forward After a Layoff by Heather Stewart

For the past 5 years, I worked for an incredible little company that makes creative products for creative people. I first joined the company as the marketing director and over time, moved into a top executive role. It was a wonderful adventure with passionate people, incredible learnings, challenges, and joys. And then it wasn’t. I was laid off.

Suddenly I, among other top executives, managers, and team members, found myself out of work. The reason? Budget cuts. But that doesn’t really matter. What mattered was that my “2nd home,” the place where I had made close friendships, where I had mentored and worked side by side to build teams, where I had laughed, cried, and come to work after too many sleepless nights of worry and planning, had let me go.

My mind flooded with thoughts, questions and emotions. I was pissed, and heartbroken and frightened, all at the same time. How could this have happened? What was I going to do? It was paralyzing.

And then I paused. I took a deep breath and reminded myself of a particularly insightful nugget that I’d learned from Carpenter Smith Consulting—the power of the pause.

The pause brought me a moment of clarity. I took a deep breath and cried. I knew that it was the only thing I needed to do at that time. I needed to allow myself to mourn this loss and to experience these painful emotions. Until I owned these feelings, I knew I wouldn’t be able to move on.

I’ve been lucky to have Carpenter Smith Consulting as leadership and executive coaches for the past 10 years. After learning and teaching these concepts to my teams over the years, I found that I had real-world tools to help me through. I needed to take stock of who I was and what I wanted to do.

The best thing I did was to find a mirror. How did other people see me? I asked several colleagues to write recommendations for me on LinkedIn. It was a great way for me to see common themes of how and where I really add value. Having these recommendations helped me to start thinking about who I am when I’m at my best.

I won’t lie; it’s been difficult—especially during the holidays. I’ve been blessed though to be able to do some work with Carpenter Smith Consulting. Over the years they have helped me find my voice, step into my leadership, and claim my power. When asked to join their team, I jumped at the chance. I’m one of the lucky ones because I’ve found a new place with a supportive team doing work where I can use my gifts and talents in a way that I am proud of.

If you have been laid off and are facing similar challenges, here are some things that have helped me move forward:

  1. PAUSE. Take a moment to breathe.
  2. Allow yourself to have your emotions AND don’t let them overwhelm you. It’s possible to take action on your own behalf to make things okay.
  3. Find a mirror. Understanding your worth through other people’s eyes is truly inspiring.
  4. Be good to yourself. Find a support system and be a support system to someone else (hint: make sure to follow the advice you give others).

You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can work on how you respond. It’s been profoundly helpful to claim the control I do have—inside of myself as well as in the external world.

Treat yourself like you matter… because you do.