Give It Away And You'll Get Some Back

Small Town Optimist Column

By Cyndy Bolton

Facing a layoff situation is difficult. I've been there, and can identify with the overwhelming urge to question your self-worth. Trying to cope with disruptions in dignity can also take a toll on your usually balanced perspective. Naturally, I have an optimistic perspective on most issues. Our family has survived four layoffs and lived to tell about it. It is an adventure in self-discovery and a test of self belief.

Being put out of work causes you to rethink many issues, positioning the most personal ones at the forefront. You think you have aptly prepared for the moment that the relationship ends, but the quietness of the aftermath bites. It's difficult to remain positive and motivated. It seems the only saving grace is that the state of the economy has lent many others to join your rank. You are not alone.

With my last layoff, I taught myself to approach it differently. I didn't want to place myself as the victim this time. I stepped up to the plate and took responsibility for what may lay ahead. It's hard to do this, with not knowing the future, but at the same time it's a very liberating feeling. We know that a "woe is me" attitude does not help a bad situation. You get more flies with honey as my Mom used to say.

Immediately, I sought the help of friends, family and anyone who had an ear to bend. I put the word out, and began down a wonderful path of meeting new people and seeking advice.

I decided to put myself out there. The best advice I heard over the past couple of years was "get over yourself". To each of us, this could mean something different, to me, it meant to move past your own self image and put your "being" out there. Give to those who need my help and offer my services to those who were not so fortunate, but would benefit from just a bit of help.

Before I realized it, the roles reversed. I became the one who wanted to give the help instead of receive it. I volunteered to help develop advertising tools for a local annual charitable event. Once this was accomplished, my network began to grow. From this one act of selflessness came two more. I committed to maintain my credibility by delivering what I promised, on time and with solid quality. My skill set grew as I learned more about the things I loved to do.

Layoff experiences can be like the mother of all reinvention. It's up to you which path you take as this chapter of your life's story unfolds. I decided to make it a more meaningful one this time, and I think it's a perspective that's going to stick. It allows me to more appreciate the small things. Little events in life that deserve monumental applause like watching the people of Haiti sing together in the darkness.

There's hope for us all. It truly is what you make of it. I've developed my own philosophy that says "change is good; transition is where the challenge lies, and this is what makes us feel alive." A change of perspective can be just the thing to shake you up and kick you in the seat. Find your catalyst, your goal and your motivator. Seek departure from the anchors that weigh you down. Afford the time with your family. Go back to school, volunteer, and reconnect with meaningful relationships. Be honest with yourself and find your direction. Just dig deep and ask what's really important to you.