When you lose your job, it can be an incredibly difficult experience. Here are a few things to remember if you find yourself in this situation….
Sometimes things don’t go well at work. The expectations on you don’t seem fair, your boss doesn’t treat you well, and your colleagues seem to shut you out of critical meetings.
Over time you start to feel less effective and yet there is nothing you can seem to do about it.
Many people who find themselves in these circumstances have an instinct that it is just a matter of time before a meeting shows up on their calendar with their boss and HR.
Let’s say that you lose your job. What can you do about it?
Now, the first thing you have to realize is that just like a breakup with a girlfriend or boyfriend, there are three possibilities:
- You are a great, but they are a mess.
- You are a mess, but they are great.
- You both have some good and some bad, but you just aren’t a great match.
For most of us, we tend to believe we are great and they are a mess, but I think we can acknowledge that far more often both sides have their issues.
We just aren’t perfect.
Here’s the thing, getting “dumped” by a company stings, as much or more so than a breakup with a romantic interest. Often there are years spent together, and people frequently identify themselves with their jobs.
(I challenge you to go to a party and not get asked what you do.)
So breakups are tough.
Here are a few thoughts on how to handle it.
Step #1: Get Perspective
When you lose your job, it can seem like a huge impact on your life. In fact, it is listed as one of the greatest stressors you can experience (#8 on the Holmes Rahe scale).
However, in the context of your overall life it will generally be insignificant. I’m reminded of a ~80 year old turnaround artist that I met once. He spent his career jumping into companies as CEO and turning them around.
At one point he told me about a company he was at for 5 years that he turned around. It required him to move his entire family across the country and… get this… he couldn’t remember the name of it!
Now I can assure you, this guy was still razor sharp. It’s just that 5 years in the context of a life is insignificant… as is losing your job.
Another thought exercise is from something my father likes to say, which is this: you represent an unbroken chain from the absolute beginning of existence to the present moment.
In other words, whether you believe in the big bang & evolution or that God created the universe or anything else, every single thing that happened resulted in you being here in this moment.
Wow! Think about that! How could you not be special, unique and amazing considering that it took 13.8 billion years to shape you into what you are?
I say this because we each have a purpose in the world and in the job market. For some it is to be a janitor and for others it is to be a billionaire industrialist, but we all are needed.
Here are some other ways to get perspective if you lose your job:
- Take some time off if you can afford it – Not necessarily a long vacation, but perhaps a couple days to get out into nature, walk around and think.
- Serve those less fortunate – Giving of your time by volunteering can be a great reminder of what you have
- Watch a Jerry Springer re-run – Okay, this isn’t the best thing, but wherever you are, things could be much worse.
Step #2: Take a Good Look in the Mirror
Like a romantic breakup, even when you get the “it’s not you it’s me” speech (the corporate equivalent of which is the layoff), it’s time to step back and evaluate what went wrong.
A successful professional knows that there are missteps that they made which got them to where they are today. Rarely do these things occur completely in a vacuum. Often one slightly poor decision can wreck a decade or more of success.
I have seen it happen… the corporate world can be quite unforgiving.
If you find yourself blaming others with statements like:
- The CEO is incompetent
- He took credit for my work
- She had it in for me…
You need to consider that, yes, the CEO is incompetent and he took credit for your work and she did have it in for you… but if you had played your cards differently you may have achieved a better outcome.
It wasn’t destined for you to lose your job from the beginning.
… and it is this ability to learn from an experience makes a huge difference in your success going forward.
In the end, jobs, companies and employees come and go. You may look around you at a firm that employs thousands of people and feel like you are the only one who somehow didn’t fit.
Perhaps that is because you are special.
So ask yourself this question, which I find remarkably powerful:
Given that this occurred, what is the best thing that could come out of it?
I guarantee you, you will come up with some amazing ideas that will brighten your day… and perhaps when you lose your job you will find something much, much better.