When your career “rug” is pulled out from under you, here’s how to keep a level head and avoid an emotional tailspin.

One day you’re a tenured, mid-level manager with a good salary, solid benefits and a positive career trajectory. The next day, your company announces their reorganization and your job gets eliminated.

Your options? Accept a non-manager role or take your severance package and hit the bricks. Your head is spinning, meetings with your HR representative feel surreal and your entire professional future is up in the air.

Deciding your next career move is important. But what’s often overlooked is the emotional fallout from having the career “rug” pulled out from under you. How do you keep a level head? How do you keep this from negatively impacting every area of your life? Here are four ways to limit the emotional damage and make sure this experience changes your life for the better. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Deal with your feelings

Put on a brave face at work and be professional for as long as you’re still there, but don’t ignore what’s going on inside. Be open with your spouse, close friends and mentors about what you’re feeling. Acknowledge your emotions rather than repressing them.

Understand that bitterness, jealousy and anger are all normal emotions in this situation and it’s OK to experience them. Write letters you’ll never send to upper management. Let it all out. Read them, then burn them. Do it again and again until the sting is gone.

Keep an eye out for signs of depression or anxiety. If your employer offers counseling to help deal with the transition, take advantage of it.

2. Take responsibility for your future

You were not the cause of the company’s reorganization. You did not have control over the choice to eliminate your job. But if you get stuck playing the blame game or beating yourself up over what you could have done differently, you won’t be able grow from this experience and move on with your career.

Your career is your responsibility. Finger pointing and excuse making serve no purpose other than to keep you from moving your career forward. Get better at what you do, whether that means learning new skills or focusing more on your strengths.

If you’re staying with the company, show up every day ready to make an impact in your new role. When a new management position becomes available, be the odds on choice. Make the hiring manager’s decision a no-brainer.

3. Be grateful for what you have

It’s the last thing you’ll want to do, but it’s absolutely essential to embrace what the future holds. If you accepted a lower level position, be thankful you’re still employed. Be thankful you can still provide for your family.

If you’re on severance, be thankful your employer offered a severance package. Be thankful for your health, the love of your family and friends, and the ability to pursue new opportunities. Compared to those who are out of work with no severance, the homeless and the hungry, you’re doing just fine.

4. Know when change is a blessing in disguise

After the changes are announced, you’ll feel like your identity was stripped away. It’s like the end of relationship when all you want is to do is find a way to go back to how things used to be.

But what if there’s something better out there? Is there a passion you’ve put on the back burner because you weren’t sure how to make a career of out it? A relationship that’s been neglected because you were always working? A faith that’s become lukewarm because you’re so busy all the time?

Can this end be turned into a new beginning? Your severance payout could be an investment in your future. Your new non-management schedule could give you the extra time at home you need. Sit down and write out all the things you haven’t been able to do because of the demands of your career. Now you can invest your time into those things. Your family will thank you for it and, who knows, you may find a new career you hadn’t considered before.

The effects of a corporate reorganization take their toll on everyone, especially those who lose their job or accept a different role. By following these four steps, you can effectively deal with the emotions you’re feeling so you can continue to be a loving spouse, a good parent, a true friend and a valuable employee.

Todd K Marsha writes about learning, growing and living at his self-titled blog. Follow him on Twitter at @toddkmarsha.


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