At Ortega Counseling Center, our job has always been to help injured workers find and train for new careers. However, the human side of this work gives us another job.
When someone is injured and told they will no longer be able to continue in their job, it is a shock. They almost always want to return back to the work they know. They want to go back to where they felt powerful in their knowledge and experience. When they are told that they can no longer do the job that they've been at for years, it's very shocking to them and they go through an emotional roller coaster.
This shock can also create a panic and a feeling of helplessness. They often can't envision anything new for themselves. So, the OCC counselors also become motivational coaches to help them move to the next phase. We help them create a vision for themselves that they can't see alone.
For many, the idea of learning something new is incredibly intimidating. Technology is especially daunting when someone has been working in labor, customer service, or in-person retail. Many people protest learning how to use technology saying they are too old, or just not good at it. This is when our counselors get to help them see their future.
We show them what other people their age, with their same injury have learned to do. When they see this, it empowers them. When they understand that somebody they can identify with is succeeding, it opens their minds to consider the possibility that they can do it too. Then we can form a vision together that they can be excited about and probably never before believed possible. It is like witnessing miracles on a daily basis.
What is most important in moving on and flourishing after an injury is mindset. Your mindset is your collective beliefs about yourself, your abilities, and your past. If you start out believing that something is going to be hard to do, then that is the experience you will have. That is what will keep you from developing new skills. If you can look at the world as an adventure that could be fun or easy, you will open yourself to that kind of experience. Our goal is to create a breakthrough in mindset and belief in possibility.
2020 is an interesting time. With tens of millions of people unemployed in the United States, many people are being forced into learning for new fields of work. It is disheartening and maddening, but to these people I want to offer the same prompts I give our injured clients: What difference would it make in your life if you got a certificate in a new field? What difference would it make for your family? Envision what it would look like to learn a new skill.
I understand that this is scary. What stops people is the unknown. They don't know what it's like to elevate their skills, they don't know the freedom that it will bring. What does it mean to advance your skills? Some people may think it means grueling hard work or failure, and the fear of that keeps them from going forward and developing new skills with excitement. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone, because that is the only way to grow.
Setting goals is important. Small wins lead to bigger wins. Be open, do some research, be aware of the lies that you may be telling yourself about not being able to do certain things. Look around and see who is doing what you want to do and know that you can do it too.
Hear other people's stories. I grew up poor, on welfare, in an 800-square foot apartment, surrounded by gangs and violence and death. There was no way that you have convinced me back then that my life would look the way it looks now. Multiple businesses, traveling first class, and having coaches for all areas of my life. But because I was open, I was able to start to envision small wins for myself that led to this huge transformation. It's all inside of us. We're golden inside. We just have to figure it out, how strong we are, how smart we are, and it all starts with being open.
See the opportunity in what is happening in the world today. Imagine the life you could have. If technology plays a role in that, isn’t it worth figuring it out? Your vision will pull you forward. Now is the time for all of us to level up, be learning all the time, and holding space for the vision of the future.