14.0   The Value of Positive Thinking

Being fired, laid off, or unexpectedly unemployed will test you like almost no other experience in life. It causes a terrible loss of identity. It can feel like you have lost your purpose in life. It causes depression for many people and it can create tension between you and your family and friends. It can be one of the loneliest and saddest experiences. A lot depends on your attitude, your coping mechanisms, and your support system.

The one thing you have to understand is that if you are reading this, you most likely do not qualify to be permanently unemployed. I say that all of the time to my students and people I counsel through the job search process. It is true... I know. I spent 4 years with the California Employment Development Department at the beginning of my career and I know what permanently unemployed looks like. It is the person that no one wants to sit beside. It is the person who has zero skills, a seriously bad attitude, a really bad personality and probably smells really bad too. It is a package. My guess is you do not have that complete combination of problems if you are this far into reading this so it is time to buck up! and figure out how to get out of this little blip on the screen.

I often speak with my husband Paul, a Clinical Psychologist, about stress and job loss. One of the major points he always makes is that it is not just a situation or an event that causes stress, it is how you perceive the event that really makes a difference. "One person might lose a job and be devastated; another person could see it as a challenge and an opportunity." Your very success in life depends on being positive. A good attitude helps you deal with the stuff that comes at you in life. You are more likely to do well in life if you perceive the world as a basically friendly place, filled with opportunity.

I think it happens right when you are born. A nurse-fairy either sprinkles sugar, or squeezes lemon on your little noggin, and you turn out to be a happy person with a good attitude or you are an unpleasant whiner. And you wake up each and every morning with a smile on your face, or you wake up crying and screaming. That is how your earliest experiences are formed. Your parents either see that cute smiling face or they get jolted out of bed with your screaming, and they react accordingly. And all throughout your life people respond to that perception of you.

According to my husband, the psychologist, people either thrive and survive or fail in life based on their attitudes. "The most important attitude is referred as the "sense of coherence", which has three elements: a sense that you understand what is going on around you; a belief that you can handle things and take care of business; and a feeling that things are worthwhile and meaningful."

A positive attitude will lead to your success. Being positive is not only essential, it is also much more efficient. If you believe that you can handle things and take care of business you will set goals and map out a plan and proceed with it. Life is more manageable, and other people and opportunities are drawn to you.

The converse is also true. If you are negative, you put out bad energy and no one wants to be around you. In life, there is not enough time to have a bad attitude. You will act based on your positive or negative view of the world. If you believe, for example, that there are no jobs out there, you will act accordingly and you will not be doing the things that are efficient and effective - like looking for a job.

Negative people also manage to thwart any opportunities that come their way. One close friend put it this way: "Being negative is a turn off." Facing rejection is a part of interviewing, but you are not allowed to lose your positive attitude and your smile. And criticizing or complaining about a previous employer, or a project, or team member, is the surest way to leave a bad impression. The result is that the employer is left with the sense that you have a problem or you are the problem.

Attitude. Exercise. Network.

Attitude - hire a counselor or a coach if you need an attitude adjustment. It is important to know when to get help... A good career coach can help you improve your game and find your way out of a seemingly endless dark tunnel.

Exercise - daily and vigorously - depression takes a toll on your body. It will clear your head and help you move forward.

Network- Get out of the closet. You will not find a job in there... You need to get around other employed people.

So buck up! Recognize that you are a multi-talented individual who doesn't qualify to be permanently unemployed. You will get a job. You learned a great deal that is of value from prior jobs and from your training and education. Now figure out what the positive things are that you can share with the world, and get out there and work on it every day until you get to where you want to be. I love the quote from Thomas Jefferson: "I find the harder I work, the more luck I have".

Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. For in action there is magic, grace and power. - Goethe