SOMETIMES, I get calls from clients who have lost or are about to lose their jobs. The prospect of being cast out from a job they thought they could count on for a livelihood is frightening.

Some of them are in the denial stage, where they cannot believe this is happening to them. Others may have moved on to anger and depression. Many are foreigners: for them, losing their jobs also means they have to move back to their home country with their families. Some feel they have lost their corporate identity and self-worth.

Are you in the same situation of having been retrenched or are at a crossroads in your career or professional life? Here are some suggestions on how to get out of it:

Acknowledge the crisis

Losing a job can create as much emotional turmoil as losing a loved one. You may go through the different stages of loss before acceptance comes.

I know a 45-year-old man, Mr A, who went through these stages recently, after losing his high-paying job of 15 years. Initially, he refused to accept that he was now facing a professional crisis.

He dismissed the whole situation as “just a bad patch” that he was going through, blaming it all on an “incompetent boss”. He was confident that his ex-boss would soon be begging him to rejoin the company.

Two months later, when it finally dawned on him that his ex-boss was not going to call him back, he became consumed with anger and hurt. He started bad-mouthing his former employer and told everyone he had resigned because of the company’s unethical practices.

When he first came to me, he was already in the depression stage. He could not understand why he, of all the staff in the organisation, was let go. Was it because he was too frank and not adept at politicking? Was it some inadequacy on his part?

I told him that the first step towards moving forward was to acknowledge that he was indeed facing a crisis in his life. He was now 45, and it is a fact that many potential employers would prefer younger candidates to fill their job vacancies.

Once Mr A acknowledged that he was facing a professional crisis, he could then choose how to respond.

Explore your options

I have always loved the way the Chinese express the word “crisis”. The Chinese character for “crisis” actually comprises two characters — one that means “danger” and the other, “opportunity”.

The word “crisis” can be defined as a time of intense difficulty or danger and a “turning point” for better or worse. Its origin is the Greek word krisis which means “decision”.

Whichever way you choose to look at it, one unifying theme defines the experience. A crisis serves as a wake-up call to alert you to both danger (and turmoil) as well as opportunities that can lead to greater things in life. The outcome depends on the choices and decisions you make.

So take a job crisis as a wonderful opportunity to step back and detach yourself from the situation, take a fresh look at what you really want in your life and then make the move forward to achieve the life you deserve!

Find your passion

How many people really take the time  to explore what is their true passion and purpose? Very few, I believe.

Most of us just tend to flow along the path of least resistance — from school to college to job after job — with very little thought given to what we really want to achieve in our lives until it is probably too late.

So, count your blessings when you receive a wake-up call. Take it as an opportunity to stop the auto-drive mode you are in and explore and discover your purpose and passion.

Reflect on the following questions:

* Do you feel good about yourself, your life, and where you are going?

* If time and money are not a problem, what would you be doing on a daily basis?

* What do you really want for your life? What don’t you want? What have you settled for?

* Do you feel fulfilled and satisfied with your life choices so far? If not, what would you change if you could?

Whether or not you are experiencing a professional crisis right now, step back and re-assess where life is leading you.

If you discover that you have been sacrificing meaning, fulfilment, balance and happiness in life for the outward trappings of “career success”, it is time to regain control of the life you really want.