The day may not start out as you had hoped for or go according to what you have planned. It's also possible you may find yourself facing challenges not yet experienced in your personal or professional life. Yet there is something you can always control, and that is your mindset. If you work on it, it you can be strong in the face of doubt, fear, and questions.
I know exactly what this means as I received news of the unexpected 15 days before the December holiday in 2021. Not only was I in shock, so too were the many students who reached out to me personally, who wanted to know about the classes I would be teaching for the next term. It was an emotional layoff, as I had been involved with this university since 2002, first as a learner, and then as a faculty member. I began my faculty position in April of 2019, and survived a round of over 200 faculty and full-time employee layoffs in 2020. This was not the case for the 50 faculty and full-time layoffs announced in 2021. I was now faced with a job loss at the holiday season, for a position I loved deeply, and students I cared about very much. In addition to the classes I taught, I mentored students for their doctoral capstone work, which is similar to completing a dissertation.
Those who follow me, and are familiar with my work as an educator and mindset coach, know I've used the moniker "Motivational Guru Dr. J" for many years. This began approximately five years ago when someone was viewing one of my daily quote photos and stated "You sound like a motivational guru". The phrase stuck with me ever since that time, and became especially important now. I began a grieving process and in doing so, I realized everything I've been teaching all these years as a "Motivational Guru" must be put to use. What I want to share now are strategies I've implemented, as a means of coping with this sudden ending, and how I've reset my mind for a new beginning.
Addressing Your Emotions
Like most every person, I have faced many endings in my life, be it loss of someone in my family, a relationship ending, loss of a job, and the list continues. What I've learned first and foremost is this: Every ending in your life has the potential to challenge you, especially those endings that you are emotionally attached to. In fact, the stronger the emotional connection to what has been lost, the more painful the ending will be.
I believe the more time we spend in relationship with the person or job or thing that has been lost, the stronger the emotions we will have developed with it, especially by the ending point of the relationship. I felt as if I had gone through a grieving process, even though my actual tenure with the faculty position was not quite three years. I began to realize grieving is natural, and part of the healing process, as my feelings of hurt have to repair from the inside out.
Conducting a Mental Reset for New Beginnings
The lesson I learned was something I already knew, which means it was reaffirmed, even if it took me by surprise: You can wake up believing each day is going to be a matter of routine, with your life and job intact, and all will work out as planned. But the truth is, you do not know what any day is going to be like for you. At any moment there may be unplanned challenges that arise, you may need to solve problems that are unexpected, and/or you may have to face new fears. Yet despite everything you do not know, what you do know is that your state of mind is always within your control. You can decide to be strong mentally, and you can choose to be ready for the day ahead of you.
The following are strategies I've followed to conduct a mental reset, now that I'm involved in addressing the unplanned and unexpected. What you can do is to use these strategies as a means of conducting a mental reset, any time you are faced with new beginnings.
Strategy #1: Manage Your Beliefs
There are going to be situations you never plan on being in, or circumstances you do not wish to find yourself in. This could include something related to your job, other people, relationships, or many other variables. What you must decide to manage is your beliefs about yourself. For example, do you believe you have the resilience to succeed, despite the situation, regardless of what it may be? There are always two aspects to self-beliefs, hope or despair.
You must decide what is going to nurture the best for your well-being and overall development in the long-run as you develop your beliefs. A belief is something you continue to think about yourself, even if circumstances do not yet support it. Here's an example: I have been laid off from my job. What is my belief? I can choose to believe I have hope, based upon my education and experience, and willingness to take proactive steps regarding a job search. I can also choose to believe there is no hope and give into a sense of despair. The question for me is this: Which belief will be of long-term benefit for my well-being? As long as I remember this and maintain a positive belief, I'll stay strong.
Strategy #2: Find Positivity Wherever You Can
Whenever you find yourself in situations that are less than ideal, you are going to find negativity coming up, especially when you least expect it. There are going to be many times when you want to go down the proverbial rabbit hole of self-blame, and even feeling sorry for yourself. This is why it will become even more important to shine a light on positive aspects of yourself and your career. Here's an example: In a job loss situation, it is possible you will think about the many reasons why it ended and begin to blame yourself. The problem is one negative thought can lead to another, then another, and so on. If left unchecked, you will soon be in a very negative state of mind.
There is another way to think about yourself instead. For example, in my situation I can think of the positive feedback I've received from faculty and students, which reminds me I have made a difference in many other lives. I can translate this to mean I should feel good about my career, even if I do not have a job at present. If I continue to focus myself in this manner, I can be strong, and view this as a time of transition. In other words, I'm not dwelling on negativity, and creating a mindset which will lead me down a path of feeling bad about myself. I'm looking at the positive aspects of my job and career, and doing what I can to lift myself up, so I am able to be proactively on the search for a new job.
Strategy #3: What Do You Want for Your Future?
When you are faced with an ending, it is a time when you are going to feel as if it is a mark of finality in your life. For example, I could think this way: I lost my job and now my career is over with because how can I find another when the pressure is on and I feel so deflated? Here is an example for someone who has a personal ending: This relationship ended and now I cannot find another because this was the best I can ever expect to have in my life.
This is what I'm telling myself, and what I'll tell you: Your very best, whether in your life or your career, is not pre-determined. There is nothing preventing you from finding another very good job or relationship or whatever it is you need to begin again. There is nothing in society that states you can only have one, or two, or three, or however many it is of whatever you want next, unless of course it is something you seek that is prohibited by law. If you decide you want another very good job, or relationship, or something else personal or professional, then you certainly can, if you decide you will obtain it.
Strategy #4: Monitor Your Thoughts
The absolute sum of who you are, and who you are going to become, depends not upon conditions of the moment, but rather what you are thinking. That is absolutely how important your thoughts are, along with your state of mind. I recommend to myself and others, especially during a time of transition and something coming to an end, to monitor what you are thinking. I'm not talking about stating random positive affirmations. Instead, I recommend you monitor your thoughts so you do not lead yourself into negativity, or thinking badly about yourself. When an ending has occurred, it means now is the time to become productive.
Strategy #5: Face Your Fears
Without question, any time of ending may cause you to face your greatest, and possibly your worst, fears about life. What fear involves is a feeling of a loss of control. When you become afraid, you begin to imagine future scenarios with the worst possible outcomes. The average person does not think about future scenarios, imagining the best of what will be, and feel sad about it. Fear always occurs whenever there is a sense of foreboding about what's to follow next in life, be it the next day, month, year, or even the next decision to make. This is why you must think through what you are afraid of, imagine what the worst possible outcome could be, and ask yourself how you would address it. This will allow you to face your fears head-on.
Strategy #6: Develop a Vision
The time of an ending may not intuitively seem like the time for the development of a vision statement, and yet, it is exactly the time when you need to create it. You now have a blank canvas, as related to some aspect of your life. Yes, there are uncertainties surrounding this ending, along with emotional connections you must manage. However, look to the future not with fear, but hope. What would you like for this new future to include? What changes would like to make, or have made now that you are going to move forward in some manner? If you can develop a vision statement, and hold onto it no matter how challenging this time may be, you will work to make it a reality, even when you have doubts.
Strategy #7: Develop Personal Mantras
Do you think about the internal strength you have to draw upon when needed? Some call it resilience, courage, or other similar qualities. It's what you have within you that drives you forward to success, even during the toughest of times. Perhaps it is based upon lessons learned, often the hard way, or your personal work ethic. There are many reasons why you have learned to persevere despite the odds, and this is a time when you need it more than ever. I know this all too well, having faced health challenges for well over a decade. I continued to work, always relying upon my internal sense of strength and drive, using this to fuel my determination to continue on in my career.
That's also the reason why I began posting motivational quotes. I wanted to share with others what was helping to inspire me each day. These were thoughts I was writing down to help me, as a means of self-motivation. I simply started sharing them as daily mantras. This approach can help you as well, to develop your own statements or personal mantras. You don't need anything more than to create a statement that begins with "I will" or "I can", as related to a situation you are going to address from this point further. You will find it is very empowering to develop and write a mantra down.
This is a Time of New Beginnings
An ending has occurred and you cannot change it, no matter how much you wish you could. That's a feeling I've had as well, and it's not just about the income. It's about waking up every day, excited to interact with students, and know I was helping them achieve their academic and professional goals. Then the grieving occurs, just as it will for you, for your ending as well. How do you begin to process what's happened? You must find your inner strength and believe you are going to come through this process with something learned, and hopefully, become a better person because of it. How can I state this now? Simply because endings can lead to new beginnings, and this is your future to create.
I've been thinking about my future, and what it is I want it to include. Questions I've asked myself, and you can ask well include: What do I want for my new beginning? Do I want to make changes? Do I want a new pathway? Do I want to make complete changes in my career? Is it time to look in another direction? What would be best for my mental health and well-being? You can also take a time of self-reflection and ask yourself: What went well in this last position, relationship, or whatever it was that just concluded? What did not go so well? What can or should I change now?
The moment something came to an end, you were thrust into the start of a new beginning, whether or not you realized it. Now use some of the strategies provided to align your thoughts to start a journey towards happiness. Take your thoughts and imagine the many possibilities you can create for your new future. Then use your words to verbalize a new plan of action that you can follow. Most important of all, believe. Believe you have a right to a better future, one that you are going to create now. Believe you are going to be okay somehow, because you have inner strength and resilience. You cannot control circumstances, but you do control your mind, and within your mind there are endless new ideas. Take one idea and create a new future with possibilities.
About Dr. Johnson
Dr. Bruce A. Johnson has been working in the field of higher education and distance learning since 2005, with roles including Faculty Development Manager, Core Faculty, Doctoral Mentor and Committee Member, and Faculty Development Specialist. Dr. J's background also includes work as a Human Performance Improvement Consultant, and prior to 2005, he was a Manager of Training and Development.
Dr. Johnson is an inspirational author, writer, and educator. His life mission to teach, mentor, write, and inspire others. He has earned a PhD in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement (TPI), a Master's in Adult Education, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
As a scholar practitioner, Dr. J was published in a scholarly journal and he has been a featured presenter at an international distance learning conference. He has published three books related to higher education, including two about online teaching. Dr. J has also published over 230 online articles about adult learning, higher education, distance learning, online teaching, and mindset development.
Come join Dr. J's new group, Motivation for Transformation:
• Any time of the day, visit this group to find your source of motivation, to be inspired and more importantly, have your mindset transformed: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9108352/
Dr. J offers the following transformative resource:
• New: Mindset Tune-Up Inspirational Card Deck. Start your morning or transform your day with words of encouragement. These are more than affirmations; these cards are personal self-empowerment statements. Mindset Tune-Up Inspirational Card Deck Set
Dr. J also offers the following resources:
• Transform Online Teaching: Expert Strategies and Essential Resources Every Educator Needs
• Getting Down to Business: A Handbook for Adjunct Faculty Who Teach Business
Please Visit: Dr. J's Resources Page
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