Q: I was laid off this week and was not prepared for it. I knew it could be coming, but didn't face it. I've got a small financial cushion but really need to get a new job fast. What should I do?
-- Rene, 44, customer service supervisor
A: Before you jump into next steps, take some time to catch your breath. It's really important to process what happened, especially since you weren't ready for it.
It would be natural to be angry, sad, afraid or a combination thereof. Don't be hard on yourself for these feelings; just notice and let yourself feel them. Keeping them in or denying them will only make you feel worse in the long run.
You may also be surprised to feel some relief or exhilaration. Let yourself enjoy the possibilities that the layoff opens up for you without second guessing it.
While you are at it, think about your pre-layoff denial. If this is your typical response to challenges, it would be a good pattern to break.
Now it's on to action. First of all, let people know. Sometimes people are ashamed and hide the news about the layoff.
The problem with this is that other people are the best source for new opportunities. But if they don't know you are on the job market, they won't mention possibilities that may be a good fit.
Plus, talking about it can help normalize the experience and take out some of the sting. You may be surprised by how many people have been in your shoes.
Figure out what you would like to do next. Do you want a similar job or would a change suit you better?