Don't shut yourself off [Photo: Courtesy]

James Gitau was once fired from a job he held dear. Today, he is one of the only 300 certified high performance coaches in the world, and the founder of Peak Performance International. He shares tips on how to stay focussed after losing a job.

1. Stay calm

The first natural reaction is to panic, wondering what your financial future will look like.  Try to stay calm, easier said than done, but more constructive than working yourself into a sorry state.

And I would know, having been fired a while back. When I look back now though, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Your mental state after you get fired will make or break you.

 2. Don't shut yourself off

Talking to a counsellor would be great. Or your spouse, mother or a friend who will listen and not draw judgements. This helps process emotions like anger, resentment and low self-esteem that often come into play. Some people sink into depression. Seeing a counsellor helps you process this anger. 

 3. Accept what has happened

Do not slip into denial. It is what it is. You have lost your job. Employers will use fancy words like redundancy and restructuring, but the fact is that you have been fired. When you accept what has happened, then you are able to tell yourself that when one door closes, another one opens. Then you can start your recovery process.

 4. Alert your former colleagues

Let your professional friends and colleagues know that you are no longer with the organisation. Best within the same week. But do this after you have processed your emotions and accepted what has happened. Be as brief as possible and resist the need to speak ill of your former employer.

 5. Find an outlet

Once you are at home, the reality starts sinking in. You wake up in the morning and do not know exactly where to go. That is when the negative emotions and thoughts start creeping in. Take care of yourself through meditation, prayer, and exercise (taking walks or running).

This keeps off depression and keeps your mind clear, which helps you be more constructive in your thought process, something you need to formulate your next plan.

 6. Take note of your financial situation

Evaluate how much money you have in your bank accounts, in your pension fund or wherever you have invested money. After that, draw up a budget that takes care of the most basic things. Then make adjustments.

That might mean you have to move to a cheaper house. Give yourself at least six months to be in that situation because jobs are not easy to come by.

If you are as old as I am, which is 60, you probably will not get any job, so the little money you have has to last.

If you are married, discuss all this with your spouse. Men have a big issue with doing this, because they are afraid to tell their wives that they need to downgrade from say, Westlands to Umoja, or Kibera. That is where depression comes in. Be real about your situation.

  7. Meet your creditors and potential creditors

Check who you owe money. You may have bought property on loan. Let your creditor know about your new situation.

Work out a plan with them. Also go to your children's school and come up with a payment scheme. You could pay the fees in monthly instalments. Sometimes you may have to move the children to a cheaper school.

 8.  Formulate a solid plan

Do you want to look for another job or do you want to start a business? If you want to look for another job, update and polish up your CV. Also get letters of recommendation from your previous employers. 

If you want to start a business, get a business coach to give you clearer insight and guide you in the right direction.

 9.  Work your networks

Let your former colleagues and people who are well connected know that you are seeking new opportunities.

Don’t be vague or casual about it. Don’t say “If you hear of any vacancy, let me know.” Be specific. Say, “I’m looking for a teaching position and I know you may have people within your circle or networks that may require teachers.

I am requesting your assistance. Will you help me?” Follow up after a while.

10.   Watch your words

If you get an interview, do not speak ill of your former employer. Even if what you say is true, the employer will think that if they employ you, you will also bad mouth them when you leave.

If they ask you why you got fired, be as honest as possible. If it was something you did not do right, explain that you have since learned your lesson and show what you have done to improve your skills and how it will add value to the organisation.