how do I manage my stress and stay (reasonably) positive in the face of impending layoffs?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

My company recently announced that they’re looking at the possibility of significant layoffs in the reasonably near future (6-8 weeks). My industry has been pretty hard hit by the Covid-19 situation, and it’s not something I didn’t see coming, but it still wasn’t great to hear. I feel about as secure as I can in this situation, but that’s still not super secure. Because this is a global situation and everyone is affected I’m worried about jumping ship and putting myself in a potentially worse situation at another company, I don’t want to be last in first out somewhere else if there’s a chance I might keep my job here.

I know this is the time I need to prove my worth to my company, but I feel like I’m walking around waiting for the other shoe to drop and it’s making it hard for me to stay motivated. In addition to the constant worry that I’m not going to have a job in a few weeks, I’m also worrying about the aftermath if I do still have a job. I know that it’s a very real possibility that I will suddenly be asked to do double or triple the work I’m currently doing, depending on how many positions in my department are eliminated, and that I definitely won’t be getting any additional compensation, and I think the general attitude will be that I should be grateful to still have a job (which I absolute would be, I’m just also a human being and I’d likely burn out after a couple of months).

Do you or any of your commenters have any advice on keeping my spirits and my team’s spirits up in this decidedly grim situation?

This is a question on a lot of people’s minds right now. In normal times, my advice would be to start an active job search in case you do get laid off or don’t like how your job changes after others get laid off. And that still makes sense to do. You don’t need to take an offer if you get one, but it makes sense to get a head start in case you end up needing it. But you’re right to worry about whether a new job would be any more secure, or if it could even be less secure.

Readers, what’s your advice?

{ 97 comments… read them below }

  1. Lynn*

    Most companies that foresee layoffs in their near futures aren’t hiring right now. (not to say that’s a blanket rule — even though COVID is now a known thing there are still companies that may be very inept in their planning moving forward) but I think that you can safely assume that if you find a job, you probably won’t immediately be laid off again.

    1. Anon Anon*

      I don’t know that this is always true. I think it’s generally true, but not always.

      I know many organizations in my industry that are still hiring, but if you look at their financials are in trouble and may not survive this crisis. Especially in the non-profit world. For non-profits definitely check the organization’s 990.

      1. filosofickle*

        I tend to agree. Things are also changing very, very fast. A colleague was hired at Uber Eats about 6 weeks ago. Seemed like a safe jump — Uber is in trouble, but the Eats side should have been in ideal place to land during this crisis. They were creating new positions and ramping up, logically. This week, their entire crew was axed.

        1. filosofickle*

          p.s. I realize this sounds negative, and that’s not how I mean it. For me, it’s helpful to recognize that things will keep changing and there is no perfect answer. (I’m the type that spends ridiculous amounts of energy trying to make the “right” and “best” decision.) We don’t know what will happen in a month , much less a year. If I were in this position, I’d focus on making the best decision I can in the moment — which would be based on limited info if you are on furlough, or interviewing and onboarding remotely — while trying to stay mentally flexible and thinking through contingency plans.

          1. Karen*

            Is this for one of the corporate positions? I’m surprised to hear this- I thought Uber Eats would be a safe place to land:/

            1. filosofickle*

              Yes, corporate. Product research/design side. Surprised me, too! I wonder if the potential GrubHub acquisition affected things.

      2. Lynn*

        Sure for, not a blanket rule — I guess I was just trying to say that this concern does not need to be at the top of the worry list. Another user below says: “don’t borrow trouble before it comes”

  2. cosmicgorilla*

    My advice is to set plans in place (as much as possible) for the various contingencies.

    Look over your budget. Anything you could cut in a heartbeat if you needed to?
    Update your resume.
    Look over Alison’s job searching advice posts.

    Tell yourself, whatever happens, I can deal with it. Whatever happens, I can deal with it. This is easier said than done, but worrying won’t solve anything. Whatever happens, it might be tough, it might be challenging, but you WILL adjust.

    Also, get all of your worries out of your head and onto paper so they’re not running on a continual loop through your brain. You might find your worries lessen, you might see that some of them aren’t as big as you think they are, or you might see possible solutions that you didn’t previously see.

    1. cosmicgorilla*

      Also, don’t borrow trouble before it comes. Maybe you WILL end up with double or triple the work and expectations. Both Alison and Captain Awkward have great scripts about pushing back on extra expectations. You may have to take on some extra – that happens all the time in the work world, but that doesn’t mean you have no voice and that you HAVE to work all through the night to get everything done. You DO have the ability to push back and tell your boss that something has to give, some other task, the overall quality (maybe you deliver acceptable instead of exceptional).

      1. Gatomon*

        Yes! I’m a planner when dealing with uncertainty, so now might be a good time to look at your workload and prioritize your tasks as they are now with a brief plan. What HAS to get done? What could be deprioritized or shuffled to someone else? What can slide for a while (if anything)? It might be easier to think this stuff through now. I’d also list out for myself things that could be issues that you’d need to work through with management: any tasks that you could end up with that you don’t feel you would be able to take on and why (training? resources?) and what you can reasonably commit to accomplishing sustainably for quantitative tasks (20 TPS reports a week? 10?). Don’t let fear push you to do the impossible.

        In addition I’d have a financial plan too as already referenced. If you get laid off, pull out the financial plan and take action. If you stay on, you have a work plan to take action with. Make sure to grab a copy of your job description(s) for help with resume writing and basic work contact info for management or HR, important dates like hire date, what the handbook says about insurance, etc. in case you’re laid off.

        1. Sally*

          Thanks for all of the good advice! I’m doing some of these things already, so it’s good to see that I’m on the right track.

    2. MoopySwarpet*

      I’d take the financial plan one step further and implement it ASAP. At one point, our company had some rumblings of potential salary cuts. I immediately started saving the amount of the cut. That was extremely helpful when the cuts did come through because I knew I could make ends meet with the smaller salary AND I had a cushion for unexpected expenses.

      I realize that’s much different than going to zero income, but if you have room for tightening your budget, I’d do it now rather than wait.

      If you were working in an office and now working from home, start saving what you would spend on your commute, lunches, social interactions, etc.

  3. Reality Check*

    A friend of mine was worried about this as well, primarily from a financial perspective. She timed out on her IRA contributions and put it in savings instead, cut back on her tax witholdings, worked part time at night to save that cash. It made her feel better to have the extra money of course, but also because she was controlling what she could, taking action.

    1. Green Goose*

      We experienced pay cuts at my company and I work in a nonprofit that I’m a bit unsure of how we will be doing after covid. My whole field is a bit of a question mark, so job hunting would potentially be difficult. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

      I cut back on my 401(k) contributions, just did the matching amount whereas I had a higher amount pre-covid.
      I’ve been tracking my income/savings each month and have an amount that I have to save each month, but then also a goal that’s 3, 6 months out.
      My spending has gone down in travel/transportation, going out to eat (and I made sure not to overcompensate in other areas).
      Stopped buying any non-essential things.
      Keeping as up-to-date as possible about anything related to my field (podcasts, news, linkedin), and staying connected to people in my network in case I do need to job search.

  4. Combinatorialist*

    Maybe this is just me because I’m an obsessive planner, but I think what would help me is to make a plan for each scenario. The answers to these questions are highly individual, but in general, the uncertainty is almost always worse than the reality. Trying to cut down the uncertainty might help.

    1. What would you do if you had no job (either losing this one or the next one)? What would your budget look like? How long could you survive on any sort of unemployment/aid you were eligible for? What expenses would you cut? What steps do you want to take now to make it easier? What possible next moves for your career or job or survival could you make? How would you spend your time?

    2. What would you do if you suddenly had a much higher workload? What changes to your lifestyle would you need to make? How long do you think you could manage? What boundaries are non-negotiable?

    1. Former Usher*

      Just had to comment that I love the user name! I really enjoyed my two semesters of combinatorics in college.

    2. The Original K.*

      This is what I’d do, and I’d probably start trimming my budget and saving more right out of the gate just in case (I’m a saver in general, even in good times).

    3. Double A*

      Adding to this, I would also familiarize yourself with the process of applying for unemployment. Go check out your state’s website, check what kind of documentation you’d need and gather it up. Dealing with bureaucracy when you’re upset and panicky always feels terrible, so having materials ready to go will take off some of the load.

      If you get get laid off, you can walk out of your office (or log off your work computer if you’re WFH) and straight to your computer at home and start the process.

      1. SarahKay*

        Thank you for this advice, it’s not something I’d thought of before. Like OP I am in an insecure industry, albeit working for what I hope is one of the more secure locations, and I’ve been quietly working through what I would need to do if RIFs come my way. This is an excellent addition to my list.

      2. Office Plant*

        This. And depending on your state (I assume you’re US-based), unemployment may take a while to start paying out (mine took nearly two months before I started getting checks). So definitely look into it, and check news articles about how your state is managing. Also check requirements to get/keep unemployment- many require you to claim weeks or keep a list of jobs you’ve applied for.

      3. emmelemm*

        This is a bit of an aside to that, but in our state there was apparently been a huge amount of unemployment fraud, i.e., people applying for benefits under a false SSN, possibly *your* SSN.

        I got the advice to create an “account”/verify my identity on our state’s Unemployment website simply in order to see if there was an account with my SSN when there shouldn’t be. Even though I am *currently* not in danger of losing my job, you never know, and simply creating an account doesn’t have any impact/doesn’t mean you’re applying for benefits in any way. I did create an account, and I could see that, as far as my SSN goes, no one has applied or received any benefits. Also, it showed me that they had my quarterly wages correct for the last 6 quarters. (My employer, when paying unemployment insurance, reports my quarterly wages/hours.) Therefore, if I had to apply for benefits, it would be super easy, since they already have the most important information.

    4. Katefish*

      I was furloughed and immediately applied for unemployment (next business day) and mortgage forbearance (same day). I’m back to work now but taking action right away helped.

    5. nonegiven*

      Krebsonsecurity has a May 20 article on massive fraud against state unemployment systems. If it’s possible, go ahead and make an account on your state system to keep anyone else from doing it first.

  5. ThatGirl*

    I would definitely make sure your resume is in order and start looking at what’s out there. I agree with Lynn that companies who are hiring right now are probably not foreseeing layoffs, and you can probably tell what companies and industries are better equipped to weather this. Nothing is ever guaranteed, of course, but some are more stable than others.

    It’s stressful, I know – but doing what you can to prepare will help you feel more in control, even if you don’t get laid off. I would also recommend making sure your finances are in order and putting some extra into savings if you can.

  6. Bow Ties Are Cool*

    Follow Allison’s advice, but also make a plan for how much more you’re willing to do if you keep your job. If they try to pile the work of three people on you, it’s perfectly okay to push back! (And Allison has addressed situations like that in the past.) You CAN say, “I am neither highly compensated enough nor physically and mentally able to do the work of three people. I am willing to work X hours a week above my usual 40, given the circumstances, but we will have to prioritize my tasks so that I am getting the most important things done. Some things will have to wait until we re-staff.” You owe them a good-faith effort, but you do not owe them your health and happiness.

    1. Katrinka*

      And make sure you’re getting paid overtime if you’re non-exempt and work over 40 hours a week (or whatever limit your state sets).

      1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

        Right! I tend to assume people here are salaried-exempt, and I really shouldn’t.

  7. Colette*

    My advice:
    – look at your finances. What expenses can you cut? How long can you live on your savings?
    – work on your resume. It’s not a great time to be job hunting, but you only need 1 job
    – start getting in touch with people you know. “Hi, just wanted to touch base. We live in scary times! I’m hanging in there but am sick of making my own coffee! Hope you’re doing well.” The goal here is to renew those connections – if you need them later for networking, it’ll be a little easier if you’re already in touch.
    – don’t worry about proving your worth. It’s unlikely to affect whether you are laid off or not, and will just stress you out.
    – if you get multiple jobs to take care of, be ruthless about prioritizing and make sure your manager is aware that you can only do A, B, and D but that C will not get done. (And if you burn out trying to do everything, you can still get laid off at the end.)

    1. Exactly this!!*

      * Having a financial cushion relieves a lot of stress so seriously look for ways to accomplish that.
      * Be positive, if you get laid off it may lead you to an even better place. The more positive your attitude about this, the more likely it is to happen.
      * Some places ARE hiring, so don’t think that you are doomed, keep that resume sharp, attitude positive and eyes open, good luck!

      1. Anon Anon*

        The financial cushion is key. Having 6-12 months of expenses in savings will help with the stress levels. I realize that not everyone can save that much, but every penny that you can save will provide that little bit extra stress relief.

        Heck, sell some things on places like Mercari, Poshmark, Ebay, etc., if that helps you beef up your savings account. I know I’ve done that a time or two in the past to raise some funds.

        1. Exactly this!!*

          I’ve also reduced my diet to dried beans and rice, donated plasma, worked temp jobs to stretch my unemployment (manpower was awesome), and traded my IT skills for goods and services I needed. Thankfully I’m far enough along in my career and have a cushion so hope to not have to go back to those measures, but hey, they work.

    2. Jimming*

      Yes, please don’t worry about “proving your worth”. It sucks that your company announced the possibility of layoffs 6 weeks in advance. That’s a long time to be uncertain.

      Another commenter above said “don’t borrow trouble from the future” and I 100% agree! You don’t know what will happen, so just be prepared in case you need to job search (update resume, reach out to people) but try not to worry about what might happen.

      Also, when my company did layoffs a few years back, they did not go by seniority. They laid off people who were tenured and people who were newer. There wasn’t really a logic behind it that I could see, so “first in last out” isn’t always going to be true. They also made the announcement, asked for volunteers who got a small severance, and then it was about one week before we knew. That was a very rough week. I can’t imagine a company putting you in limbo for so long. They may be hoping for some natural attrition so they don’t have to make as many decisions.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        It may be that the company is hoping a certain number of people will move on ‘voluntarily’ as a result of the announcement rather than have to pay out severance etc.

    3. myswtghst*

      “don’t worry about proving your worth. It’s unlikely to affect whether you are laid off or not, and will just stress you out.”

      Agreed. A slight dip in productivity during a pandemic is unlikely to be the reason you’re laid off, and even a herculean effort right now is unlikely to save your job if it’s on the chopping block. Focus on finding motivation to get necessary things done, not on trying to clear some unrealistic bar of job-saving perfection that doesn’t exist.

  8. SometimesALurker*

    As far as avoiding burnout in the meantime, if your job is the kind where you can shut out of email, etc. and truly stop working at the end of your workday without sacrificing capital, I think that’s going to be a useful strategy. Doing what you can to bolster the ways you take care of yourself and cut yourself slack in other areas could help. What you’re going through is really stressful (and that continues to be true even if others have it worse)!

  9. thatoneoverthere*

    Are you skills transferrable? Meaning could you transfer them to another company not hit as hard by COVID? If you are simply a llama groomer than maybe start submitting resumes. But if you are an accountant for a llama groomer company you maybe able to apply at companies that are still doing ok. Like medical companies, retail companies etc. Either way I would start applying. Know that you will likely get unemployment, if you are laid off. So that may help ease some anxieties. I agree with the above posters. Look at your budget, think about what you could cut, do you have a partner that helps with expenses?, possibly explore the idea of roommates (if you don’t already) etc.

  10. Anon Anon*

    This is such a tough situation because so many industries have been extremely hard hit, and those organizations that haven’t had layoffs or don’t plan to have them in the next few months will most likely be forced into having them later this year or next year.

    However, I remember the 2008 recession, and for years I and many people like me worked very long hours doing the job of multiple people. And a lot of people became burned out. So I think you should look, and then save as much money as you can. Life is uncertain, and many places don’t layoff people based on seniority, they base it on performance and need.

  11. Monty & Millie's Mom*

    I tend to be a worrier, and while my “advice” isn’t necessarily specific to this situation, I’ve used it in multiple situations, and it can be modified for different people/circumstances. But also, it may not work for everyone. Basically I imagine the worst-case scenario, and work out what I would do if that worst-case scenario happened. I also do what I can (in some cases, not much, honestly) to avoid that worst-case scenario. I try to run through several scenarios that are bad, and how I’d respond, and that helps me be more prepared – it calms me to know I’ve got a plan, even if there are too many variables to actually PLAN, if that makes sense. All that said, I’m seeing lots of good advice from others, so my advice would be to pick and choose the things that’ll work for you. This whole situation stinks, and I hope you are able to find some peace!

    1. I'll say it*

      I do this too! but I’ll add – and this is advice that is good but that I almost never follow myself – don’t worry about things too much that haven’t happened yet, like burnout from possible additional job duties. but “what’s the worst that can happen” is a very useful tool!!

    2. myswtghst*

      Same here. If my brain is going to be hung up on imagining worst case scenarios, I always figure I should make the most of it and think about what I can do to prevent those situations, and what I’ll do if they happen anyways. I’ve also found it helpful to really figure out what is in my control, so I can make plans or take action, and what is outside of my control, so I can figure out how to let it go.

      1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

        yes, that’s the other piece of it – knowing how will react and what can do, and knowing that I CAN’T control certain aspects and knowing that will have to be okay. I started doing this when I got married and had to deal with my mother-in-law, to be honest! It really helped a lot when I was finally able to let go of the thought that I could somehow control HER actions – because I can’t.

      2. Elsajeni*

        The other key trick to making the worst-case scenario exercise useful is forcing yourself to apply it to only one problem at a time. This is hard, especially if you’re an anxious person or otherwise prone to catastrophizing — your brain will automatically want to go to the worst worst case scenario, like, “okay, what will I do if I lose my job AND all my references decide they hate me AND my spouse leaves me AND my dog runs away AND–” no! One problem at a time! We are just worrying right now about what I’ll do if I lose my job; what’s the plan for that?

        Obviously some problems can naturally lead to secondary problems, like, “what if I lose my job AND I fall behind on my mortgage,” and you can get to those as a Phase 2 of the original problem. But a lot of the time the worst-worst-case spiral is just your brain being generally anxious and compounding all your unrelated anxieties together, which is where the dog running away comes in, and you just have to be like “brain, no, we’re doing Financial Anxiety right now, stay on task.”

  12. Goodbye Toby*

    I get the worries about leaving but at least get started as much as feels doable for you right now. I cleaned up my resume and started some light networking, just touching base with people to let them know I’m still here, thinking about them, etc. Just those simple things can make you feel less stressed.
    I’ve also started a list of things I would be able to do of I were laid off. I can read this book, fix my garden, and etc. And a list of things I can do no matter what- I can write, I can connect with people, all my skills that I can take with me anywhere. I know it doesn’t make the money stress go away. But good to remember there are things that a job can’t take away.
    Hope everything goes as well as it can.

  13. NomadiCat*

    Be proactive. It’s the way I stayed sane during the many waves of layoffs at my company during the Great Recession.

    Sit down and build out a plan for as many contingencies as you can think of: for staying at your job, for finding a new job, and for maybe even switching careers. Then break those contingencies into small, manageable steps and try to do at least one thing a day that builds towards one of your contingency plans. Some examples are cleaning up your LinkedIn profile, reaching out to one contact in your network to see how they’re doing, reviewing processes and procedures at work to make sure they’re as up to date as possible (because inheriting 3 workloads with out of date instructions is HELL), or joining an online Toastmasters club to brush up on your presentation skills for both your current job and your potential job hunt.

    You’re up against something big and scary. The two keys to dealing with that are first, figuring out what you can control and then second, taking some kind of concrete action in the areas you control.

    Also, this is a great time to figure out what healthy coping mechanism helps you de-stress and doing that thing as often as you need to. If you like Legos? Stock up. Working out? Lots of sales on home equipment right now. Whatever it is, be aggressive about your regular de-stress time so that you’re in a healthy mental place when you have to make very hard decisions very quickly.

    To borrow two cliches that I find myself using on a daily basis in the current crisis: “Build the plan, work the plan.” and “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

    Good luck!

  14. OP*

    All of this is great advice and a lot of it is steps that I’m already taking.

    I guess what I’m looking more for is how to find the drive to perform at work now. I’m actively planning for the future and the worst case scenario, but I’m struggling to not get dragged down at work in the day to day.

    1. Colette*

      I think it’s OK to find it hard to work right now.

      Here are a few things to try:
      – don’t get sucked into conversations about potential layoffs – it’s easy to absorb other people’s stress. (Been there, do not recommend it)
      – if you’re having issues focusing/procrastinating, sometimes it helps to set limits (i.e. I’m going to spend the next 15 minutes on this task and then I can talk to a colleague/work on more appealing task/check the news)
      – do what you can reasonably do; do not overextend yourself to save a situation you can’t save.

    2. Anon Anon*

      If there is a way that you can make a plan for your day and focus on one task at a time, that might be helpful. Are you a person who likes music or can listen to podcasts while you work? If you can (I’m not one of those people, but I know lots of people are), then that might help you get yourself out of your head.

      I also think you need to try and be gentle with yourself. If you haven’t tried meditation or upped your exercise regimen that might be a good way to relieve some stress.

    3. Combinatorialist*

      So something that helps is being very explicit about when is time to work and when is time to worry. When you are trying to work and a worry pops up, it is much easier to dismiss it if you just put it on some list and say tomorrow at 7 pm is the time to think about the worries on the list and now is the time to work. If you give yourself permission to be freaked out at specific times, it is easier to push through the other times.

      Alternatively, can you bribe yourself through? I’m generally trying to eat better but when I was writing my thesis, I was basically like, “I can eat as much queso as I want when I’m working on my thesis and none at other times.” It’s not the best long term plan, but finding ways to bribe yourself through it in the short term will potentially get you over the hump you need.

    4. TechWoman*

      I understand your feelings. I survived three rounds of layoffs during the recession. Every time I saw the HR person come into our area or my managers called me into their office, I’d panic. I don’t know if you can avoid getting dragged down in the short-term. You’ve been dealt a blow and it makes sense you’re staggering.

      I would avoid getting into long conversations at work speculating about things. Those can cause you to spiral even more so. Try to turn the conversation back to work or walk away. Respond to things and not react. When you’re already stressed, things that aren’t a big deal can suddenly seem like it. Give yourself space to feel the emotion later and in private. Do you have a project you enjoy or find engrossing. Focus on that. Maybe set a timer where you turn off distractions.

      Above all, don’t pressure yourself to be perfect or unaffected.

    5. Bibliovore*

      It can be useful to think about what’s triggering the amotivation. For instance, is it because feeling impermanent makes it feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter, or because without the certainty of an ongoing paycheck there’s little interest in the position, or from depression and anxiety about the potential loss on top of all the other stress, or a sense that without knowing whether they’ll stay committed to you it’s really hard to stay committed to them? The cause(s) can then inform what to do. If you really don’t want to be there, maybe put more energy into the job hunt and focus on finishing/accomplishing what you’d want to have done before leaving and on not burning bridges. If it’s depression and anxiety, talk to your doctor and/or a therapist, and watch for what specifics trigger symptoms and consider how to mitigate or avoid or reframe them. Etc.

      Good luck, OP, with the job and the job hunt and the amotivation and, well, everything.

    6. MayLou*

      I am struggling with this too and here are some things I’ve found helpful:
      1. Accountability to others, not necessarily colleagues. I have an online coworking room in Complice where we state our intentions for the day, track progress, and work to timers. In breaks we discuss how we’re doing with work. Do you have any friends in a similar situation who could be your accountability buddy?
      2. Lists of tasks. On days when I really really don’t want to, I get very granular with this so that I can tick things off rapidly. Feeling like I’m achieving things gets me on a roll. Also, it removes the tedium of constantly having to decide “what should I do next?”
      3. Productive procrastination. When I start to flag on a work task, I take a break to do something that is still useful. Now that I’m WFH that’s usually housework like putting on laundry or vacuuming a room. When I worked in the office it was shredding, printing consumables or other paperwork. It gives my brain a break without disrupting my flow.
      4. Routine. This is linked to the lists and removing decision-making stuff. Every day my first task is “emails and admin”, which means reading any emails that have come in overnight, copying them into the case management system and listing any tasks that the emails have generated. Second on the daily to do list is to… make my to do list. I typically do tasks that don’t require me to phone anyone first, and then batch all my routine phone calls mid-morning when my brain is most alert. I do any intensive work in the afternoon as that is when I can best deep-focus.

      None of this addresses the issue of how you get yourself to care about a job that might disappear in a few weeks. That’s because you can’t control how you feel about the situation, which legitimately sucks. All you can do is behaviours which help you get into a state of flow and feel like you are at least doing what you can right now. Good luck!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Decide to turn yourself into the Most Indispensable Employee on Planet Earth.
      Seriously, energy begets more energy, slacking begets more slacking. I have seen this in myself and I know it happens to others.
      Find ways to energize yourself. If you are like me you need more than one method, because different things work on different days:
      Work for your resume: “I am going to do Stunning Project in Record Time and it will look great on my resume.” Or “I am going to help solve problems that come up do to the pandemic and generate some great stories for interviews.”
      Work for YOU: “I have to look at ME in the mirror. I WILL know that I did not give it my best and there is no way I can ever UNsee that. So I have to give my best each day.”

      Work for your cohorts: We never know when someone is really having a rocky road. But they have quietly decided to watch those around them for inspiration. You can be that solid, Rock of Gibraltar type person and still be very reality based. “Yep. This is hard. Yep, I am just taking things one day at a time, too.” We have no way of knowing that someone is saying, “OP can keep going knocking out a good job every day, well then, *I* can, too!”

      Let Future You coax you onward: “Hi! This is Future Me! I just want to tell Current Me that I am super pleased how hard you,Current Me, worked to keep it pulled together! Now we have x, y and z which we did not have before and that is just because you, Current Me, worked at things even though your heart just wasn’t in it.”

      And for me this is the toughest one to swallow: The quality of the rest of our lives can be made or broken by the choices we make when the chips are down.
      See, it’s human nature to want to feel like we are going toward something and we even like to know what that something is. This is normal.

      Currently, it’s normal to wonder what tomorrow will bring. Yeah, that doesn’t work for most people. Get a vision in your head. Picture yourself five years out from this. You got a good job. You have a comfy place to stay. Maybe you have a pet. Or maybe you have nice trip lined up. It’s your vision so you can add/subtract here. This vision becomes your reference point, this is where you are going even if you are not sure how to get there right now. Okay, what can you do today to get yourself to this point in five years?

      I have gone through points in my life where this week/this month/this year is NOT salvageable. All I can do is damage control. But if I see a better time on the horizon (and I do not read TOO MUCH news), I can better push myself through this low point. Think about other times where life looked iffy. Sure, it was probably smaller scale problems then, but how you handled it IS relevant. What did you do to pull yourself through an iffy spot? These activities are clues as to what activities would be helpful now.

    8. AnononThis*

      Can you reframe what a successful day looks like? I was someplace where we knew layoffs were going to happen and what helped the most is my manager brought us together and basically said “ok we’re each going to pick x amount of tasks (these take 4-8 hours to accomplish) each week (think 3) and we’re going to get them done. That’s a successful week, everything else that gets done is a bonus.” It allowed us to plan out the weeks in a way that’s not overwhelming and rank and stack the other stuff for following weeks. It also helps because each week we’re having a successful week and it seems easier to manage three things versus a million. And it also gave our manager something to say in staff meetings in regards to our performance, etc….and our team was called out after as being one of the most productive during that period without us recognizing it or feeling like it.

      Also, the weeks where it all feels like “too much” or you need to just get away, log off an hour early or take an afternoon. Some people will tell you not to do it because you need to show you are dedicated to your job, but you need to take care of you right now. You aren’t going to do your job well if you are sitting in front of your computer so stressed you are crying or yelling or pick your stress problem. That time will allow you to refocus. Do you get Monday off? Can you take tomorrow afternoon and do an extra long weekend, put all the work stuff away and clear your head till Tuesday? It may make Tuesday more productive if you do it. Those are my two cents on this.

  15. Amber Rose*

    As far as motivation goes… maybe don’t bother? I’ve spent the last 14 months doing a hard thing every day and realizing that motivation is a fleeting, unsustainable emotion. Nobody feels motivated 100% of the time, or even half the time. That’s just not how we’re made to be. Instead, in order to keep moving forward in the face of what feels like impending doom, what you need is ritual and discipline and compassion for yourself.

    Adopt common strategies for depression. Make to-do lists with at least a handful of easy to cross off things, so you can cross them off and feel a little surge of accomplishment. Face down your lack of motivation with acceptance: “I don’t want to do this. I’m gonna do it anyway.” Find little ways to reward yourself so it doesn’t feel like boot camp all the time. Find the things you can control and control the HECK out of them, because right now what’s killing us all isn’t the uncertainty it’s the helplessness, the inability to change or affect anything about the larger problem we’re all facing, the inability to do anything except wait and wait and watch and wait. So find places you aren’t helpless. Make the most detailed meal plans you’ve ever made. Organize your entire living space so that Marie Kondo would turn green with envy. Make meticulous needlework art. Something like that.

  16. RemoteHealthWorker*

    Just survived layoffs here:
    1. Look now. If they are hiring its a sign they are well run and financially stable.
    2. Don’t fall into the “grateful to have a job” trap. My employer is already taking advantage of that attitude to push staff to work unpaid while giving us pay and benefit cuts. Most of them are permanent cuts too with no mention of coming back when the profits bounce back.
    3. Take care of you. Take lunch breaks and micro breaks. Dont fall into the “I must work myself to death to survive trap”.
    4. Don’t parrot the doublespeak. Some of my coworkers are bearing down on the “we are a family! We are in this together! Come together and get through this” attitudes. Remind yourself that this attitude only benefits the employer. Family doesn’t lay family off.
    5. Allow yourself to grieve and be upset.

    Good luck!

    1. Anon Anon*

      Points 2 & 4 are key.

      I appreciate having a job, especially in a time when so many people don’t, but my employer isn’t doing me a favor by keeping me employed. They are employing me because there is specific work that they need accomplished in order to make money, and I have the skill set needed to accomplish that work.

      And the whole “we are a family” stuff drives me insane. Why is that we’re only a family when the organization is in dire straights? I mean if I’m in a dire straight personally, I don’t know of any organization that will increase my pay or pick up the tab for my insurance deductible.

  17. Vermicious Knid*

    My company hasn’t mentioned layoffs, but I have a solid sightline into its finances and know we’re in serious trouble (like, the company folding completely) if things don’t pick back up soon. I’m saving every penny I can, picking up freelance work, and have retooled my resume to include all the new initiatives we’ve developed as a result of the pandemic. I have updated my online portfolio. I have taken my rolodex home and plan to lean heavily on my network if things go sideways.

    I’m not sure how much of that relevant to your situation, but I’m finding that having a contingency plan is calming. If the worst happens, I know the next steps are X, Y, and Z. That makes it less scary.

  18. Kimmy Schmidt*

    I would start looking at the process to apply for unemployment in your state, just in case. I would much rather be prepared with documents and questions and end up not needing them than the other way around.

  19. MonkeyPrincess*

    It’s very likely that they already made a list, and your performance in the next few weeks has nothing to do with it. It’s even more likely that the list they do make is based on salary, a very specific and irreplaceable skill that you will not be able to master in the next couple weeks, numbers, and other esoteric things that you have absolutely no control over.

    This isn’t to say that performance won’t matter at all. If you’re one of the lowest performers, you’ll likely be on the list. But scrambling in the next couple weeks isn’t going to affect that at all. And if you care about being a good performer now, it’s likely that you always have (the low performers, IME, always have some Dunning-Krueger stuff going on and lack the introspection for it to ever even occur to them that they’re not the best).

    All of this is to say that there is honestly probably not a ton you can do to retain your current job, but also please do not beat yourself up if you are on the layoff list. These sorts of things are usually complicated and convoluted equations and people get cut for no better reason than because they make the exact amount that the department needs to trim, and kept because they know how to do X really well and are kinda good at Y and Z, and the c levels have decided that X is the priority… if you’re the expert at Y, even if you’re the best Yer that’s ever existed in the history of the universe, they’ve made he decision to keep X and it is in no way a reflection on you. Everyone is hopefully doing the best they can, and hopefully you work for a compassionate company that will make sure you all get as much support as they can offer.

    1. MonkeyPrincess*

      I’m replying to myself, but I just reread what I wrote, and it sounds like really depressing advice. I guess it is. But I don’t really mean it to be depressing. I’m more worried that if you do get laid off, you will take it as a sign that you just didn’t try hard enough, that you’re to blame, that if only you had done something differently, you could have prevented it. These things are not true.

      If you are laid off, please don’t give it any introspection, and please do not try to figure out what you could have done to prevent it. The economy sucks, the company didn’t want to lay you off, none of what’s happening is your fault. Work on your resume and tell yourself that things happen for a reason, or that windows open when doors close, or whatever else makes you feel better. You sound like a go-getter, and I’m confident that you’ll be fine.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree with what you wrote and had posted similar below. The next 6 to 8 weeks aren’t likely to change who gets let go. Do your best but it’s not likely to benefit you to think of it as make or break.

      2. OP*

        I don’t see myself getting sad I see myself getting angry depending on who the keep lol

        At the end of the day it’s a business decision and if my role is one they decide they don’t need it is what it is

      3. Fiona*

        I actually think it’s not depressing at all! That is the kind of big-picture thinking that would calm me if I was the OP. It’s easy to forget that these decisions aren’t based on “well, OP didn’t answer an email at 11 PM, so she’s cut.”

    2. Aggretsuko*

      I was thinking the same thing. Hustling like a mofo is probably not going to save your job at the last minute at this point, so I’d be assuming I’m getting laid off and planning accordingly.

  20. A Frayed Knot*

    Motivation can be a difficult thing, even in good times. I try to do my most difficult/most unpleasant tasks at my most productive time of the day. For me, that is mid-morning. I give myself some time to “warm up” to my day – I read my email, read the daily news for my industry and/or local news, make sure nothing has changed since yesterday. Then I tell myself I will do one productive thing/tackle a problem/complete a task for at least one hour. At the end of the hour, I can take a break – a fresh cup of tea, a walk to the mailbox, water my plants, read AAM, something simple like that. Sometimes I skip the break if I am on a roll and making progress. After lunch (I always take time for lunch, even if I read at my desk), I do the slow start again. Do something simple/quick to get started, then move on to something more difficult/time consuming. Some days I don’t need the breaks as much; some days I need them more. That’s okay. As long as I meet deadlines and productivity expectations, I don’t worry about when/how it gets done. (Not everyone has that luxury, I know.)

    TL:DR Break your day into smaller segments and give yourself some slack. Ten minutes away from your desk can refresh and refocus your concentration.

  21. knitter*

    Yeah, I hear you. While I don’t think layoffs will happen for a while, it is something on the back of my mind. I’m definitely a planner and, though usually a high performer, right now I’m really struggling.

    The thing that is keeping me going is that I’ve been laid off once and had a contract not renewed a different time. The lead up to knowing these things were likely to happen were much, much scarier than it actually happening. Both were absurd situations that I tried to control but in hindsight, I realized just how little control I actually had.
    You know the details of your industry best, but you could just kindly remind yourself that layoffs are about the position not the person’s work.

    Right now several positions on my team are not funded by my department’s budget but instead by the organization’s budget. So it is money that could be easily pulled. My position’s responsibilities were just shifted and I suspect that is my boss’ way of setting me up to survive any funding cuts. I don’t hate the change, but I really love what is going to be taken off my plate. But I feel like I have no recourse because I lack so much control in this situation. Pre-pandemic, I’d push back a lot and do some job searching. But I’ve made the decision to stick it out with the knowledge that even if my position is cut that I’ve survived that before and can again.

  22. Trek*

    The best advice I have ever received is never leave a job on their terms; and don’t wait for someone else to decide what happens to you.
    People can deal with reality more so than what if scenarios. Knowing that lay offs are coming and could continue gives you solid information that it’s raining outside and you need a rain coat and an umbrella.
    – Update your resume
    – Review your budget. How long could you survive without a paycheck?
    – Pick up a 2nd job if you need additional income to bulk up savings.
    -Update your resume and start networking.
    -Build your support network. Reach out to friends or family that may have gone through something similar in the past and ask for their help and for them to be a sounding board for when things get rough. Everyone needs someone to talk to and you should make sure you have people in your corner.
    – Build a routine even on days you are not working and stick to it as much as possible.
    – Focus on the what you can control. You can’t control if they lay you off, you can control how you respond to the lay off.
    – Don’t plan to replace this job with just any job. You may have to short term but start looking at what a dream job would be. Is it in the same field? Is it a promotion or a different are of the industry you are in? This may be a time to take the leap into something new.

  23. WellRed*

    No real advice, but when a company is looking at 6 to 8 weeks for layoffs, I’m not sure how much “proving my worth” at this point does? Presumably you will continue to perform at your usual high level and they are aware of your track record. Depending on the type of job/company, they will also have certain positions they simply don’t need, while others they can’t do without and the next few weeks will do little to change that.

  24. LifeBeforeCorona*

    One thing you can do is “think outside the box” as much as I hate that expression. Take a big picture look at your industry, there may be smaller niches that are booming. I work in food and hospitality and that industry has been devasted. Restaurants are closed but delivery drivers are still needed. Earlier in my career, I worked at admin support and childcare jobs. I wouldn’t necessarily want to do either of them again but for the next six months it may be all that’s available.

  25. Ama*

    I’ll just chime in on the “possible overwork if I survive the layoffs” bit because that’s what I have a little more experience in.

    One thing I have learned (unfortunately the hard way), is that no one ever knows how much work you TRULY have on your plate except for you. You may think your boss or your colleagues know what you’re doing, and they may also THINK they know how much work you’re doing, but they are likely missing pieces of it. And even the most well-meaning boss who thinks they are keeping an eye on your workload will quite often continue to assign work to you unless you speak up and say something. And it’s always best to speak up earlier in the process if possible, because if you speak up when there’s still time to postpone or cancel a project an alternative arrangement might be possible — if you wait until deadlines can’t be moved you are far more likely to get the “well you’re just going to have to make it work” response.

    Ultimately you may have to decide whether there is a particular level of overwork at which you would be willing to walk away from that job even without something else lined up and even in this terrible economic situation.

  26. Same boat, different sea*

    Similar situation here. I’m a temp (called a contractor but not) in an essential industry. My contract is ending soon and can’t be renewed unless I take a few months off (unpaid, no insurance) and basically get rehired. So I’m tying to stay focused and productive knowing I will not have this job in a few months. I’ve been looking, but not seeing many options, and I’m also afraid to start a full time position with a company that’s not essential where I would be first in fort out.

    I’ve been constantly list-making. Writing a work to-do list in the morning and trying to cross everything off by the end of the day. I find it helps to focus on very short term bc most work meetings are already talking about a time frame that doesn’t include me. In my personal life, I’m also making lists of what I would need to do to prepare to take that unpaid “break” (insurance, unemployment, finances, etc), as well as trying to squash my hopes for a dream job I applied to over a month ago and haven’t heard anything from.

  27. DapperDev*

    I think if I were a manager, I would let my reports know that if anything happened to them or us, they could contact me at any time for references. I’d also let them know I’d be open to combing through my network to see if there’s anyone looking for a role that’s a good fit for them.

    I also think I would point them to company resources that could really help them prepare financially or emotionally for getting laid off. As in, does your company have a financial advisor for free financial advise? Does your company have special services for mental health support? Your team might need a reminder to leverage those resources.

    And I think the last thing I would do is be kind to myself. I would focus on self-care, meditation. Of course I’d make sure my savings account was at a good place, but I would really try to prioritize my mental health. Because the hardest thing about financial uncertainty is the emotional/mental toll it takes on who you are.

    Good luck OP! You got this.

  28. Lynn Whitehat*

    I work in tech, which can be turbulent. I’ve been through layoffs several times. Here are some of my suggestions:

    First, update your resume while you are still employed and have access to all your files, notes, reviews, etc. You can use those to remind yourself what you did. If you’ve worked at the same place a long time, it can be easy to forget! Especially, you know how everyone always tells you to quantify your accomplishments? “Sped up X process by 20%” “Reduced rejected widgets by 20%”, etc? If you don’t already have those numbers, get them while you still have access to the underlying data.

    At least start looking at job postings, even if you’re not ready to apply yet. See if there is some new hotness that the postings are all asking for. If so, and if you don’t have experience with the new hotness, can you get it at your current job? If not, can you take a class or do it on your own or something? I find recruiters can be very literal about requirements. If the posting asks for experience with the Llaminator 3000, by God that’s what they want you to have. Even a little experience is better than none.

    Start seeing if there are any local professional groups you can join, or old colleagues you can catch up with, or anything. It is going to be harder with so much shut down or virtual. But these can be great sources of job leads, and the sooner you can sort out which groups are active, defunct, have drifted from what they say they are, paused for Covid, the better.

  29. Kate Daniels*

    Thank you for asking this question! I am in a similar position at a university and have had a hard time concentrating for the past two weeks because I know layoffs will likely be coming and I was the last one in. I don’t have advice, but just wanted to say that you are not alone and appreciate you asking this so we can get advice from others in this community.

  30. erdeanduncan*

    My position has been eliminated in two different jobs (fortunately now at an extremely stable job, which became even more stable with COVID-19, so it did work out for me in the end). One time I was laid off with several months’ notice, and the other time I was offered basically three combined positions instead, which I accepted. I think there’s one thing that could help reframe your thinking around this sentence: “I know this is the time I need to prove my worth to my company, but I feel like I’m walking around waiting for the other shoe to drop and it’s making it hard for me to stay motivated.”

    In my experience, layoffs have not happened because certain people proved their “worth” to the company. Especially in circumstances like these, it is more about the necessity of certain roles (not people!!) for the organization to function at its core, weeding out any duplicate efforts, and cutting programs entirely that aren’t making a profit. In my mind using layoffs as an opportunity to target people who don’t put out quality work is completely wrong, and though that is a possibility, any good company is not going to base layoffs off of that criteria. So it may not make you feel better exactly, but it could alleviate some of the pressure to know it’s out of your control for the most part!

    The other thing is, again, if your company is doing the right thing here they need to be understanding that dealing with the stress of a global pandemic AND knowing that layoffs are coming is absolutely going to affect everyone’s productivity and morale, so they should be much more lenient on everyone.

    Same goes for afterwards: if you aren’t laid off, you need to start having conversations with your manager ASAP about what work needs to be cut so that you are still maintaining a reasonable work/life balance. I think that companies do pay a lot of lip service to making sure that they are reducing staff AND workload, but they have not been great about keeping that promise in my experience. So it’s important to be really aggressive about setting firm boundaries and taking a hard look at what is actually “necessary” vs. “the way we’ve always done it,” and pushing back hard when that happens. Hopefully you have some social capital built up to spend on this, because it is very worth it.

    As for applying… I guess it depends on how transient your skills are right now, but you could consider looking into industries that are either unaffected or bolstered by the pandemic? Maybe just update your resume and cover letter, and start putting out the gentlest of feelers. I would assume that most companies in a more precarious financial situation wouldn’t be hiring right now anyway, but who knows!

    My last piece of advice is to go easy on yourself as much as you can. This is one of the more traumatic things that can happen in a workplace, both for the people who get laid off and for the people who don’t. If you need to take time or are being unfocused and unproductive, that is really okay. Be sure to reach out to your support network as much as you need to. And good luck!!

  31. animaniactoo*

    I think everyone else has already said good stuff about preparing to possibly be laid off, but to address the flip side of your question about staying motivated:

    I think one way to do this is to think about the worth of the work you’re doing. Who is relying on it to be completed? What are you contributing to either from the standpoint of your co-workers or the end user of whatever it is that your job produces? Lean in to the idea of being the person who is helping that happen, who is fulfilling a need by getting it done, even if what you’re doing is rote work like data entry. Somebody, somewhere, needs that info, etc. Who is that person? Focus on them and their need for it.

    I’ve been doing well with creating structured breaks for myself to do other stuff, so I know that I’m not drowning in doing the same thing all day every day even though my job has quite a lot of natural variety built in to it.

    And if you can’t get it all done as layoffs happen, don’t pretend that you can. Push back and re-prioritize the load based on actual availability to complete it.

  32. Nonprofit Nancy*

    I think this current crisis is especially hard on my planner friends, but things are changing so fast that I think it’s best to think on your feet and remain flexible. Don’t be wedded to a certain path right now, accept that there is a lot of uncertainty and that you will have to make the decision that seems best given the factors at the time. I see this in disaster planning too: there is certainly a “floor” like “where are the exits, do I have supplies gathered in an accessible place” etc – the equivalent here would be “what are my current savings and what would I do if I lost my job tomorrow” – but honestly, the specifics of your reaction will depend on the disaster. An active shooter calls for different responses than a flood.

    We don’t know right now so just focus on being nimble. I’m sorry, I know it’s really hard, I’m going through the exact same thing right now.

  33. Hillary*

    OP, you’re probably already doing this, but one thing that’s so important is to make sure you have copies of everything you might need. Download or bring home your performance reviews, your year-end pay stubs, and your recent pay stubs. If you have personal files on your work computer, save copies somewhere else. Someone mentioned their rolodex above – if you keep all your contacts in outlook, download them unless it would violate a policy.

    If you have a lot of stuff at the office and if you’re going in, start bringing things home subtly. It’s a lot less emotional weight if you don’t have to spend an hour packing after you find out, but you also don’t want your desk to start to look empty. Last time I went through this my books moved home gradually and my cabinet became empty. I used to work for someone who wanted to be able to leave any job within five minutes, he just had to take down a couple drawings from his kids and pick up the framed picture of his family.

    MonkeyPrincess was 100% right that the lists are probably done. They might be waiting to see how bad May comes in and they probably have scenarios ready to respond. I’ve been doing what if scenarios for business declines (I manage vendors, not people) for months now. If you turn into a total slacker or start yelling at everyone you might be added to the list, but I can’t come up with other scenarios that would change it.

    Please be kind to yourself. It doesn’t matter how much it’s business – if you care enough about your performance to write to Alison, it might be painful. So many of us associate our self-worth with our employment. Your feelings will be valid, whether it’s relief/guilt that you made it through or anger that you didn’t.

  34. Come On Eileen*

    My company announced furloughs about six weeks ago, and all of us suspected that there would be additional cuts — likely layoffs — soon after that. I had to force myself to stay in the mindset of NOT proving myself. Because I realized that if layoffs truly did come down, it wouldn’t be about my worth in the time since the pandemic started, and really wouldn’t be about my worth at all. It would be a matter of numbers and budgets. Once I got past the mindset of MUST SHOW HOW GOOD I AM, it was a lot easier to sit back and just keep doing my work. (Side note – the second round did come, it was layoffs, and I still have a job. I’m grateful to have a job, sad that several of my friends that lost theirs, and navigating this new normal as best I can.)

  35. OP*

    So just a couple more things I want to address, again this is all great advice and it’s nice to know others are feeling the same way right now :)

    1.) A lot of people are commenting about reviewing my budget and that was the absolute first thing I did months ago before layoffs were even in the mix. Like I mentioned the industry I’m in is very much hit by this but it was somewhat obvious that that was going to be the case in early March so I started my planning then. On the bright side it’s easier because so much is closed so spending less money isn’t terrible. On the other hand I’m pretty young so I haven’t had a lot of time to start saving, but I’m attempting to plan as much as I can.

    2.) I am doing my best not to borrow trouble while at the same time planning for the worst. A few commenters have mentioned trying not to worry about increased workload, but I am trying to meet with others to prepare. My job involves a mix of collaborative and individual work, and depending on what people are laid off whole projects might grind to a halt because no one knows what’s happening with them, so I’m trying to make sure that whoever is left at least has something to go on. That does make it difficult sometimes not to look around the room and wonder who will still be here.

    3.) I have had a somewhat frank conversation with my manager already about excess workload potential, unfortunately she doesn’t want me to worry about it too much yet, while at the same time she freely admits it would be likely to happen if I’m still here. So I’ve laid the groundwork but there isn’t a lot of movement or reassurance.

    4.) I am aware that the next few weeks aren’t going to make a massive difference, I’m more trying to make sure that if it comes down to the wire between me and someone else I have any advantage I can have, but I’m not killing myself over it. At the end of the day if I go nuts now I’m setting an impossible precedent.

    Again thanks for all the comments! Keep ‘em coming!

    1. Anon Anon*

      I am assuming based on this comment that you didn’t go through the 2008/2009 recession?

      While, I think this is worse, just know that whatever happens you will get through it. If you are younger, then even if you are laid off that is going to be a temporary situation. And you have a lot going for you if you are laid off. You clearly have some experience, and you probably are not so high up in the food chain that you cost a lot of money.

    2. Ranon*

      Well, given that your manager has basically said if/ when layoffs go down they plan to overwork everyone still there, I think “start job hunting now” is the thing to move to the top of your list- you basically have a guarantee that the job you like now is definitely going to suck more in the future.

  36. Mrs_helm*

    If your job/industrial is at all unionized , find out their roles around layoffs. This might give you insight into how it will play out. I used to work at a trucking company. Only a percentage of our drivers were unionized, but when the recession hit the union required that any driver layoffs had to have an equal percentage of layoffs in other departments AND most recent hires first. (After 2 rounds of layoffs, our IT department didn’t have specialists we needed! It was very short sighted!)

    But if you know what their rules are, you may be able to figure out if you are at risk or not.

  37. Existentialista*

    I’ve been through this before myself, with an employer who told us when layoffs were coming, but not who, and during the wait every team was the least productive I’ve ever seen any workforce in my life.

    It’s hard, but the only way to handle it is to live in two realities at once, and plan for both of them equally – that you get laid off, and that you stay. The good thing is that either way, you will settle into your future once you know what it is. For now, do what you would normally do in either scenario, but don’t hold yourself to doing extra, because it’s hard enough just surviving, and management has to know that they will lose some motivation after making this kind of announcement.

  38. Sarah*

    As someone who has the misfortune to be job searching right now (currently employed but I am trying to move to another state…), I’d suggest starting to job search now. The chances that you will get an offer before you know about the layoffs for sure are pretty low right now.

  39. RB*

    I don’t think you should feel the need to stay positive right now. This is not a time that engenders positive feelings. It’s like trying to remain positive after a death in the family or some other tragedy. It’s ok to be down when crappy things are going on. In fact, the people who encourage us to look on the bright side when we’re struggling are really just making matters worse by making us feel inadequate to deal with life’s ups and downs.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Yeah, you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to Stay Positive. Our culture just loves to invalidate less-than-happy feelings and make people feel like it’s their fault when bad things happen to them because they weren’t ~positive~ enough, and it’s really harmful.

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