Don Miguel Ruiz’s classic, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, speaks volumes of wisdom to us in daily life and is especially important for us as we maneuver life after losing a job. So many considerations are front and center when our primary source of income disappears, whether from downsizing or a firing. Financial, emotional, and spiritual matters arise, not to mention the need to find new employment. Each of the agreements (in italics below) provides concepts that can help us love who we are amid the challenges of death.
Ruiz’s text can bring some solace as we reflect on the job loss and embark on the restoration and healing process, as we look back and live in the present. Be impeccable with your word, as we say what we mean and mean what we say, allows us to take a critical assessment about why we lost our job and yet commit to learning from our mistakes and finding new employment. Losing a job provides an opportunity to review our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Does our former area of employment continue to do the work our souls must have? Is there another area where we would like to work? Is this an opportunity to become self-employed? What type of work can we do in the interim?
Don’t take anything personally gives us the freedom to not become paralyzed with job loss. The type of loss can dictate a lot of our feelings. If we were fired because of breaking the rules or being made a scapegoat, our feelings can be paralyzing. If our former company downsized, there will be a disappointment. Whatever the cause of our job loss, it is important to not take the company’s decision personally. The company, particularly in right-to-work states, can fire someone at will without cause. We realize the loss of income has many consequences and need to take care of ourselves, process our grief, and be able to pick ourselves up and move forward.
Don’t make assumptions is an important rule for any relationship, and is most significant when dealing with a job loss. We cannot assume we know all the reasons why we lost our job. Sometimes political connections dictate employee and economic decisions. We cannot assume anything about the past, or the future of our job prospects. Assumptions get us trapped into the “what ifs,” and that does not help us move forward. We cannot assume what our families and friends will think or what level of support we will receive. We need to ask for help.
Always do your best is a wonderful adage. When we bring our best selves, we bring love and care—freedom, appreciation, and empathy. We assess our past to learn what worked and what did not work. Then we set out a plan for the next steps. This includes working with a financial planner to determine how much money we need to live on, and what our needs are versus our wants. If we live alone versus with others is also a factor for consideration. We can commit to living below our means and being wise stewards of any savings and annuity accounts.