Laid off? Optimism is the key, life coaches say

'This is a crisis - and by definition, crises are always temporary,' says head of support hot line.

unemployment 248 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
unemployment 248 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Staying positive and focusing on future opportunities are the key to beating the economic downturn, even if you are among the thousands who have recently joined the unemployment line, according to Leora Spitz, a life coach and former president of the International Coaching Federation in Israel. "We like to focus on four keys to success," Spitz told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. "The first is knowing what you want and staying focused on that goal. The second is trusting your own instincts. Third is being flexible and changing course if need be in order to reach that goal. And the fourth is not procrastinating but taking care of business now." She offers career coaching sessions to some of the country's leading companies via her Way to C coaching initiative. Spitz said the coaching industry had not seen a significant drop in the number of high-level business people seeking out its services, even though many of her own clients had either been made redundant in recent months or lived in growing fear of being laid off. "Coaching is needed now more than ever," she said. "Things seemed so safe and secure [before the recession]. Now many people feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under their feet, but people are still coming to coaching because it helps them stay positive for the future." A lot of people in the hi-tech sector were allocated substantial severance packages and were not yet in "panic mode," but rather using this downtime to figure out what exactly they want to do with their lives, Spitz said. "Many people who come to me are still optimistic about their future and they are taking this time to decide what direction they want to go in," she said, adding that coaching could help people see that they might be able to move away from their previous profession and try something new. "We are talking about phenomenal people, who are highly qualified with a lot to offer," Spitz said. "They might be able to take their skills elsewhere and be successful." Coaching was future orientated and not the appropriate forum to examine what went wrong or to feel like the victim, she said. "We don't look back and try to understand the problems or pinpoint the blame," she explained. "Therapists are much better at things like that. A person seeking coaching needs to be naturally creative, resourceful and whole. If a person is not in that frame of mind then they should not seek out coaching." Despite the upbeat nature of life coaching, Spitz is acutely aware that as time passes it is getting emotionally harder for those unable to find work. "The job market is very hard right now and while most of my clients are still optimistic, after five months out of work that is slowly diminishing," she said. Psychologist Dr. Yitzhak Gilat, head of research and Internet operations at emotional first aid center Eran, said that after being fired most people enter the "shock stage," "where they are just coming to terms with what has happened to them." There has been a steady increase in the number of callers to Eran's help line (1201) looking for emotional guidance after becoming unemployed, and he believes that this figure is likely. "Don't be surprised when an out of work friend or family member suddenly becomes very angry at their situation and looks around to blame other people, that is a natural defense mechanism," Gilat said. "We need to give these people as much support and understanding as possible. It is also important to tell them that this situation is not their fault, but rather that it is symptomatic of the current economic climate." He also stressed the importance of broadening the perspective of the unemployed person. "This is a crisis, and by definition crises are always temporary. This must be made clear to anyone in this kind of situation," Gilat said. "Things will get better." In the meantime, the National Insurance Institute reported on Monday that it received some 19,800 new requests for unemployment benefits during February, the largest increase in a single month for several years. Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog urged the government to deal with the deepening crisis as soon as possible. "Every day that passes bring irreversible damage to the thousands of people who have now been made unemployed," Herzog said in a statement. "We are not talking about lazy people who do not want to work, but about those who have become the latest victims of the global economic crisis that has now hit Israel very hard."