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Reclaiming Your Career Prosperity: Don't Budge on These 4 Needs

By Nan S. Russell

"I need a bar," her two-year old voice stated, referring to a breakfast bar she sometimes eats. "No," I said coaching her on word usage, "you want a bar."

"No Nana! I need a bar," she loudly restated in case her grandmother (that's me) hadn't been tracking her request. We had several conversations about the words: need and want, but despite my persistent corrections, she never budged.

As you transition from the emotional upheaval of job loss to reclaiming your career prosperity, don’t budge from focusing on four needs that will help you reclaim the future you desire.

#1: Focus on Needs Over Wants

First, you’ll need to understand your absolute, immovable job musts.

Desiring it, craving it, or wishing for it is distinct from the must-have state of necessity.

It’s often our wishes or wants, conscious or unconscious, not our needs, that preclude us from seizing a great opportunity, exploring a new path, or moving through a fear.

Yes, you need a job, but must it have three weeks vacation, a twenty minute or less commute, and a same or better title than before? Is a car allowance, work from home option, and a dental plan a necessity or a desire?

Clinging to perceived wants can sabotage your job hunting success and your future.

So, it’s important to differentiate your job needs from your job wants by taking a realistic look.

  • Get out a piece of paper or start a new document on your computer. Label two columns with the headings: My Needs and My Wants.
  • Now ask yourself:
    • What are my absolute needs for the next job?
    • Then, what would I like to have, i.e. what are my wants or desires?

Once you’ve articulated and understood what your immovable needs are, stay focused on them, and you’ll be able to move from wishing and hoping to targeted acting and doing. That shift improves results.

#2: Tap Everyday Cheer

Second, you’ll need some everyday cheer to keep you going. With or without a job, your life continues. It unfolds through the everyday acts of living; the regular stuff from paying bills to raising a family to getting through life’s challenges. It unfolds when reading a story to your children, talking to a friend, or smiling at a stranger. It unfolds taking your dog for a walk, pulling the weeds, or devouring a great novel.

Everyday cheer is found in the little things that sustain and deepen us. It’s in hugs and smiles and gifts of time. It’s in the difficult moments, shared experiences, and ongoing struggles. And it’s in talking and sharing of life’s disappointments as well as its joys.

Let everyday pleasures strengthen your heart during this difficult time. Allow those who love you, to love you. And love them back. This is an opportunity to deepen your relationships, with yourself and with others. And who knows, you may someday look back on this job loss experience as a positive one. I know, ultimately, it was for me.

#3: Grow Thick Skin

Next, you need to do something about the thickness of your skin. Disappointments. Rejections. Almost good news. This emotional roller coaster requires thick skin.

The reality is that in virtually every situation you face, there will be thirty percent of people who will like what you do, thirty percent who won’t, and the rest won’t care either way.

It’s true that piercing words, difficult feedback, or rejection can diminish our sense of well-being or courage. It can even cause us to change direction. But in this age of instant messaging, anonymous blog ramblings, and self-appointed experts, thick skin is a prerequisite for anyone who wants to reclaim career prosperity.

There’s a line in the movie "Gracie" that I love. Gracie is a teenager in the 70’s who is competing for a spot on the boy’s high school soccer team. In one scene, dejected and on the verge of giving up, her mother, played by Elizabeth Shue, tells her, "If you want to limit yourself, that’s fine. But don’t let other people do it for you."

Don’t give up on your talents, abilities, and life dreams because someone else decided you were not the right candidate for a job. Your time will come.

#4: Own Your Job Loss

Finally, you’ll need ownership on your journey back to career prosperity. Whether you lost your job in a sweeping dismissal of thousands or an individual occurrence about you, this unasked for event is now part of your life. Like the Italian proverb reminds us, “Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.”

But, experience is also what you get when you use what you didn’t want wisely - to learn from it, grow from it, and fashion from it a bridge to your future.

Of course, it’s easier to blame those who made the decision, or those who executed it. But how does blaming someone help you? Creative excuses and finger pointing get you nowhere. Don’t waste time in the blame-game.

Look at what you can do, what you can offer, what you can improve. Taking ownership of where you are changes the energy you bring to every interview, network event, and personal exchange. It enables you to come with solutions, ideas, suggestions, and enhancements and move forward with the mantra "I can."

An Individual Path

The path may look the same, the destination of a great job might sound like yours, and the hurdles can appear similar. But don’t be fooled. Your path to career prosperity is not like anyone else’s. It’s unique to you.

Your needs and wants are different. Your talents are uniquely yours. You do some things better than other people; other people do some things better than you. The emotional baggage, financial challenges, and personal obligations you carry are lighter or heavier.

Learn from other traveler experiences but don’t compare the job loss or job search journey. Your potholes, mud-traps, scenic overlooks, and ah-ha moments will be yours. See them for what they are. Rest when you need to rest. And when you do, heed where you’ve been, noting the progress you’re making one day at a time.

Bottom Line

Your career prosperity path is yours alone. Sometimes it may feel lonely and overwhelming; sometimes insightful and awakening. But the bottom-line is this: every day there’s only one need for you to remember: just continue.

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; and her job loss seminar: Rebooting After Job Loss.