My career, in the dumpster

We’ve been packing for our big move to a smaller house. In the process, we have to get rid of lots of stuff. So, I tackled a business closet filled with training notebooks, old workbooks, and personal notes. The result: nearly 500 pounds of trash, and 10 boxes to give away.

The experience was filled with melancholy. Why is it, that after giving 100% and having results in the 99 percentile, we somehow remember the negative events whenever we reminisce? I guess you could say it’s just human nature. Or perhaps, the melancholy comes from the grief of letting go.

My career, in the dumpster

In order to get past tossing away my training career, I have been comforting myself with these thoughts. I hope that if you have lost a job you love, or the job you hated, that these ideas will comfort you: 

1.    Nothing lasts forever. In her book “Necessary Losses,” Judith Viorst argues convincingly that losses help us gain deeper perspective, true maturity, and fuller wisdom about life. From losing our mother’s protection, an important relationship, or a job—all these losses are necessary part of life.

2.    We tend to remember the negative more than the positive. “This is a general tendency for everyone,” says Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford University. “Some people do have a more positive outlook, but almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail.” It’s physiology. The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. So, if you remember the one negative event out of thousands of positive ones, give yourself a break. That’s the way your mind works. 

3.    The work you did was important and right for the times. I used to feel depressed, thinking about all the advertising that my team created in my early career. Today, it would look amateurish and silly. If you are in IT, the early work you did is almost laughable, considering what can be done today. Consider this: your work was important and right for the times. You solved real problems, and laid the groundwork for others to follow.

4.    The work of your career provided your lifestyle. Good or bad, the jobs that you held in the past have put bread on the table and paid your mortgage. They have provided for your family and put gas in the car. So, regardless of how you feel about those earlier jobs, they were worthwhile.

5.    You have made a lasting impression on your clients, coworkers, and the company culture. The contribution that you make to others in working is worthwhile. You may never know how you have touched others in a positive way—nor how many you have touched. By being kind, thoughtful and diplomatic, you have made the workplace – and the world—a better place.

As you are searching for work, consider all the good you’ve done. Rather than remember the dumpster moments, focus on the good. 
Now, I’m going to start processing some emails, and see whose life I can impact for the good today. 

On your side,

Catherine Jewell
Career Passion® Coach


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