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Life’s Transition Survival Kit

You wake up the morning after and get ready for work just to remember you don’t have work anymore. As mentioned in the previous post, you were terminated yesterday. What do you do now? What kind of items do you need in your transition phase survival kit?

A personal development plan. Just because you’ve hit a bump in your road of life doesn’t mean you need to stop moving. So maybe you’ve lost a wheel in the process, be it your job/spouse/comforts of your previous life. But you’re still here, alive and breathing.

We were not meant to stay still…even at an atomic level, subatomic particles are in continuous motion. So commit to moving, even if it’s just a single step. Switch on your laptop, update your Linkedin profile, email your friends…I know it can be considerably difficult to do something especially if it might lead to rejection, because it’s like inviting someone to kick you while you’re already down. But what’s the alternative? Doing something — anything — is the first step to getting back up.

Measure your progress. Whether you are sending out application and emails, you’re going to measure progress not the number of rejections you’re facing it. Learn from every rejection letter on how to improve your cover letter. I personally started a spreadsheet with the applications made and date of application — that is a quick way of telling when you can follow up with someone.

Your intact sense of identity. According to Brad Lomenick author of H3 Leadership, your job assignment is not the same as your sense of identity. However, there are many people who mistakenly equate the two; they lose their jobs and with it goes their sense of identity. Maybe it’s because the job made up a large part of their life; a part they had to forsake a lot of other parts for. Ideally, you would want to correct that before the job’s carpet is pulled underneath your feet. But even if you don’t, you can still rebuild your life around a new sense of identity; one that is defined by your internal values, relationships and contribution to the world. The Minimalists list down the things you really need to focus on instead of collecting stuff; health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.

And this is something I’ve noticed about some of the most inspiring people in my life during their lowest moments; they always tried to help others. It might sound counter-intuitive. With your self-esteem taking a hit like that, you might ask yourself, “How can I help others when I can’t even help myself?”

But never underestimate the value you might bring to the table. It doesn’t matter what stage you are in your life, there’s always going to be someone younger, less experienced who might benefit from a tiny bit of your knowledge. It could be as simple as teaching long division to a six year old.

Manage your environment. Make it conducive of positive thinking. I can’t emphasize this enough, because if you live in the Arab/African world, negative thinking is as ubiquitous as the air that we breathe. People complain too much. About everything and everyone, and it’s very easy to get sucked into all that negativity. And when your relatives keep on asking you, “so what are you doing with your life?” every two minutes, it really doesn’t help.

So build a barrier. It could be mental or physical in the form of actual earphones drowning out the external noise. Make podcasts your new BFF. And of course, it goes without saying, books, too. Accept that people’s narratives are theirs, not yours, and just get on with your life.

As a wise man once said, “Some things are, and some things are not.”

Manage your stress. This is really, really important. Your losing your job usually triggers a sense of anxiety that begins with,

“What am I going to do now? Where do I start looking?”

But then it can spiral out of control pretty fast, like some sort of runaway reaction and make you reach panic mode, “I’m useless. What am I doing with my life…”

Train your mind to build a positive, empowering narrative. There are many ways of doing this that I would elucidate in another post, but every time you get a dis-empowering thought that’s not helping you, stop and ground yourself.

Last but not least, face rejection head-on. For every rejection you get, send out three other applications. Turn it into a game, and remember…

The game is on.

If you’re currently in a transition state, what are your biggest challenges? And how is your attitude? Leave your comments below., tweet me @ahechoes or email at

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Also, check out my short story collection, “All Bleeding Stops and Other Short Stories from the Kenyan Coast,” and the non-fiction book summarizing a lot of ideas in the personal development field if you want to change your life but don’t know where to start, “Mine your inner resources”.

Published inLife LessonsPersonal DevelopmentQuarter-life crisis