Last time I was hiking in Montana’s Glacier National Park, which is near where I live, I stopped to view through binoculars a mountain goat trekking atop a rock cliff.
My husband, looking back at the switch-back trail we’d just climbed, happened to see a grizzly bear cross behind a group of hikers a hundred yards below us. With my narrowed focus, I never saw the bear. Our different views yielded different impressions.
It’s like that when you lose your job, too. When I was fired from my first professional job, I thought my future had collapsed. That woe-is-me perspective blocked my ability to see that what happened had opened, not closed, opportunities. In time, my view broadened, and my understanding emerged.
Not only did I come to realize I disliked the job and wasn’t good at it, but I was also ill-suited for it. I thought I could do anything, but I couldn’t. I chose wrong. Once my self-awareness (and self-esteem) came to terms with why it happened, my view shifted, and so did my future.
You can wait for perspective, or you can develop it. Like an architect taught to design by looking at something within a narrow context first, and then viewing it from wider and wider angles, we can learn to see our own life situations from different and wider vantage points; we can grow "new eyes," as it were.
Changing your view may take time, but you can start by nudging yourself toward new perspectives using these approaches:
Force yourself to step back from a narrow job-loss vista, in order to gain perspective at least once a week. Volunteer at a hospital, work with a charity, organize a community event, read to disadvantaged children, or help that elderly neighbor. Be of service.
It’s easy to lose perspective of what’s going right in life. Keep your view clear. Or in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
Never taken a yoga class, read a mystery, or planted a garden? Always gravitate to the same websites, read the same magazines, or frequent the same establishments? Venture out. Drive back roads to the grocery store, take a class you never imagined, or learn to paint. You can’t change your view to reboot career prosperity, make new connections, or notice hidden opportunities unless you replenish your soul and grow new learning pathways along the way.
Woe is me or an opportunity to retool? Personal tragedy or personal growth? Permanent scar or catalyst for a dream-pursuit? How you see your life is how you live it. What frame have you put around your job loss? Is it helping or hurting your personal view of your future?
Lee Iacocca said, "In times of great stress or adversity, it's always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive." That’s true, but as you do, keep reframing the picture.
The frog in the well, described by Mao Tse-Tung, captures the thought, "We think too small. Like the frog at the bottom of the well. He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well. If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view."
When we suffer job-loss, we see the world from the vantage point of something taken away, something lost, something stolen from us. Yet, when we nudge ourselves to broaden our perspective and remerge from that well-of-loss to a larger world of opportunity, there’s a profound shift in our energy and our outlook. That’s because changing your view, changes everything. Try it!
About this author...
Job Loss Recovery Expert Nan S. Russell discovered a Stanford degree didn’t protect her from being fired from her first professional job. From minimum wage to Vice President of a multi-billion dollar company, she learned the hard way. Now she helps others with what does and doesn’t work at work. The author of three career books including, The Titleless Leader, Hitting Your Stride, and Nibble Your Way to Success, Nan is a national speaker and work issues consultant. More at NanRussell.com; and her job loss seminar: Rebooting After Job Loss.