It feels like we’re in dire times — of panic-buying and heightened anxieties, as more countries go into lockdown and citizens serve Stay-Home Notices (SHN).
So, really: who could blame us?
On 18 Mar 2020, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) — a tripartite UN agency — warned that up to 25 million jobs could be lost as a result of the impending recession/economic downturn.
The biggest kicker is: what happens if you lose your job?
These are five coping mechanisms to help you along if the worst happens — because the best thing to do in such situations is to keep on keepin’ on.
#1: Accept How You Feel
Like death or a bad break-up (or, y’know, worse), acceptance is one of the hardest things to grapple with.
In 2017, and just two months into my second job at a local newspaper, my team was informed a good chunk of us would be redeployed.
The paper age was dead; at just 25 years old, it felt like my dreams had been cut short.
I’m a traditionalist in some ways, and had spent a good chunk of my life romanticising the beauty of the printed word. I shunned the onslaught of the digital age, simply because I was adamant the print industry would never die.
Being delivered news you don’t want to hear will likely stir a bevy of emotions: anger, hopelessness, frustration, panic.
It’s important to give yourself the time to cope with these feelings — but don’t let them fester. Much as you’d hate to hear this, holding a grudge won’t change your situation.
#2: Know That Your Work Is Not Your Identity
It’s easy to peg your work performance to your identity or self-worth.
Whether you’re hitting KPIs — or, conversely, struggling to meet them — these achievements, shortcomings and stressors will inevitably bleed into your personal life.
It’s something I still grapple with, but how you fare professionally (or how you’re treated at work, even) shouldn’t be pegged to your personal identity.
Once you’ve accepted that your personal and professional selves are independent of each other, you’ll find yourself fretting less over small decisions.
Worrying what others think of you or your work is inevitable, but won’t serve to benefit you or your mental health.
Instead, channel your time into doing things outside your comfort zone. Which brings me to this:
#3: Relinquish Perfection and Discover New Hobbies
Should you turn your hobby into a side hustle?
As someone who only discovered her love for illustrating in later years, choosing to turn that into a small art business only unearthed a pandora’s box.
I remained enamoured with the process, but now had to grapple with a slew of foreign problems: finances, sourcing for suppliers, digitising my artworks, finding reliable printers, and actually marketing my products well.
Sadly, my full-time job eventually took priority — and so I found myself returning to the very thing I’d always enjoyed: illustrating, without the pressures of turning a profit.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt from it is, perfectionism has no place in running a business.
There’s unmarred beauty in imperfection, so rather than agonise over small mistakes, focus on doing your best. You’ll be all the happier for it.
If you’re stuck on ideas, these free and/or affordable things to do at home should get you started.
#4: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
Covid-19 or no, the nation’s many pushes to encourage ~upskilling~ have surely not gone to nought.
SkillsFuture top-ups are slated for October 2020; Singaporeans aged 50 and up also enjoy additional subsidies under the National Silver Academy; more workplaces are offering learning leave incentives.
In other words — and no matter how resistant you may be to the idea of change — you don’t have an excuse for not upgrading your skills.
There’s something to be learnt from everyone, even if you think you’ve learnt it all.
The key is to be curious in your thirst for more knowledge while remaining humble.
This is admittedly starting to sound rather like a spiel, but the Workforce Singapore (WSG) also offers complimentary, one-to-one career coaching services to identify any skills gaps you may have.
#5: Beat Your Ego by Reaching Out
If you’re hoping for a bright side to your new, jobless state, here’s one: you’ll now have the time to evaluate what you actually want.
So rather than jump into applying for every job you see, reassess where you stand — and how satisfied you are with what you’ve achieved.
This again ties in to staying relevant, because it may mean suppressing your ego to let your contacts know you’re looking for work.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to former colleagues, friends or companies you might want to work with through LinkedIn, for instance. There’s power in networking — so put yourself out there!
Life’s wrought with curveballs, but making them work for you is the first step to moving forward.
And that’s what you’ll likely need at this point.