Are You Searching for an Answer or an Excuse?

by Shawanda Greene

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The other day, some interesting reading crossed my twitter stream. KiplingerMedia tweeted a link to the article What to Do if You’re Fired. I thought the article would provide fresh job hunting tips for those who were recently let go as well as those who’ve been unemployed for an extended length of time. As expected, it did exactly that.

Implementing the first two tips, although broad, are extremely useful – not just with conducting a job search but with your money and your life.

  1. Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. The longer you’re steeped in self pity and self loathing, the more cantankerous you become. So, take action immediately.
  2. Tell yourself that what may look bad is actually a blessing in disguise. Now that you’re free, you can pursue more meaningful and rewarding endeavors. Whether you believe it or not, just fake it and say it.

I’m always curious of what other readers have to say about articles, blog posts, etc. Commenters often serve as an excellent source of relevant and timely information. Here are the first two comments on the article:

Good advice for white collar workers. However, what advice would you give to a blue-collar worker (high school diploma only), middle aged white male who has worked very hard in transportation (CDL B driver) and warehouse for over 20 years. Unemployed for nearly one year – no unemployment benefits. Our family does not go to restaurants, movies, events, etc. We have cut back to bare living on everything. Hey, try living on mac N cheese and hotdogs for several weeks in a row.

Posted by Jann

What advice do you give a middle age woman with 20 years in human service and is passed over by 20&30 somethings who think you’re too old…

Posted by Daphne

At the risk of sounding selfish, these comments were totally useless to me. On second thought, they are the cornerstone of this blog post. Thanks Jann and Daphne!

But seriously…Jann…Daphne…What about the advice given by the author, Marty Nemko, doesn’t apply to your situation? Have you tried ANY of Mr. Nemko’s advice? It may be too late to prevent the onset of bitterness, but it’s not too late to stop it.

How many times have you discarded good advice? You can be honest. The person who provided it won’t know you admitted to being close minded and irrational. I’ve certainly disregarded suggestions that could’ve helped me out. Choosing instead to complain about the abominable state of my life.

It is interesting, however, that as pleasurable as it is to go on and on about the injustices I’ve experienced, doing so hasn’t really done anything for me. Yeah, I, like most people, probably derive some sick satisfaction from wallowing in grief. Otherwise, why do we do it so much?

I know people who, after asking how to cut back on their monthly expenses, will pull out every reason, i.e., excuse, that your solicited advice won’t work. Come on!

What’s better than griping about things you cannot change? I’ll tell you: griping about that which you can.

When I worked as an auditor at my previous employer, every year from around mid-January until the end of March (busy season) I’d complain about how much I hated my job and how I wanted to quit before the start of next busy season. My mother was the only person who could listen to these rants everyday, so one year she told me that I’d better quit the following year as she was getting too old to listen to it.

How dare my mother even hint that I had a choice. As it turned out, I did.

Just like Jann and Daphne. To the extent that you don’t have a choice – I mean you’ve exhausted all viable options – then just shut up so that you don’t drive others crazy. They’ve got their own problems.

Earlier today, I taught a budgeting class for an organization I volunteer for. One of the participants admitted to losing a lot of money in the stock market after the bursting of the tech bubble in the early 2000s and then again recently. At 59 years old, she’s approaching retirement with nothing.

Her question: What do you do when you get to my age and have to start over?

My answer: You start over.

After all, what choices does she have?

What choices do you have?

Whenever I’m facing a challenge I need to overcome, I look to people who know more about overcoming the particular challenge than I do. I assume both Jann and Daphne were doing the same thing by reading Marty Nemko’s article.

But looking for answers is just the beginning of solving a problem. You have to be open to receiving different ways of thinking and open to executing new ideas. If Jann has been unemployed for a year, then what he’s been doing isn’t working. 

If what you’ve been doing works so well, then why hasn’t it worked?

1. I would know that each nanosecond of wallowing mires me deeper into self-pity and inactivity and turns that chip on my shoulder into a boulder. So my job search would start immediately.

2. I’d tell myself (even if it’s slightly delusional) that being terminated is for the best. I might actually say, as a mantra, “The layoff will pay off,” hoping the affirmation will strengthen the neural pathway storing that thought. It’s like exercising a muscle: The more you use it, the stronger it gets. That may not work, but what do I have to lose by trying?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Carla August 2, 2009 at 1:08 AM

I think some people tend to not think outside the box when it comes to career. Job hunting or career advice written 5-10 years ago that’s written for 22 year old recent college graduate probably will not apply to someone who is twice their age with or without a degree. You have to find the methods that will work for you. You have to look and work outside of the boundaries that you think you have. At least that’s how I feel about it.


Donte September 3, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Wait, I cannot fathom it being so strahgitforwrad.


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