Being fired is one of the most traumatic experiences in life outside of losing a loved one or the ending of a relationship that a person can experience. As with most life-shattering experiences, having a support system in place will help in the healing process and being able to move forward with a healthy outlook on life.
I’ve experienced being fired, and it sucks! Being rejected and discarded makes your heart feel like mincemeat and impacts your self-esteem, and confidence. The longer you’ve been with an organization the more it hurts and the deeper it cuts. All that time, all that investment, all for nothing, or was it?
Life is rarely constant, we’re always in a state of change and evolution, adjusting, renewing and transforming. Change is important and sometimes change needs to be drastic in order to help us move forward and live our best life.
Where to Start
The first thing you need to do after being let go is to seek out resources to help you, understand the laws and regulations with regard to termination. Don’t make a wild guess on what you believe the law is, seek out advice from qualified professionals. It’s important that by the time you land your new role, you’ve mentally moved on from your previous job. Be sure to take the time to address any last-minute grievances with qualified advice – employment lawyer or labour board representative.
With any loss in life, you need time to heal, this is why you have to find the resources or support system that will give you the confidence to move forward in a positive direction. In my experience, getting weekly group counselling really helped, it gave me a foundation. Further, these weekly sessions gave me certainty and time to not just dwell on my depression but to consider aspects of my lifestyle that I hadn’t in the past. This self-reflection and awareness led to a healthier outlook on life where I took the time to invest in myself with education, healthy eating, exercise and connecting with a largely neglected network of friends and family.
Career counselling or an extended family vacation away or staycation might be better suited for some, either way, take the time to get some perspective before charging back out into the workforce and ending up in an unstable role or with the wrong company.
Let it Go
The next part at times is the hardest. Can you let it all go? Start from scratch and build a new story? Are you willing to reinvent yourself, unconstrained by your previous role or job? This is important, this is where all the magic happens. If you’re willing to take the risk and start anew the possibilities are endless. Do you have a skill that was underutilized in your last role? Do you have a passion where your skill set aligns? Is there a new and emerging industry that can use your talents or skill sets? Are you willing to rebuild your ‘internal equity’ in a new organization even if it means relearning how to approach things you’ve done one way for many years?
If you’re willing to evolve and change, you will survive because this is what life's about. For me, this led to starting my own company, overcoming my fears in the process, and living a more fulfilled life where my personal health is just as important as my financial health.
Once you’ve made a commitment to being open and not attached to any previous personal narratives, humility will become your best friend. The world is changing and having a boss many years younger than you is a real possibility, so be prepared for anything and embrace it because this is where we grow and can truly add value.
I remember one of my first assignments after being let go was a recruitment project on something I had done very early in my career; I took on the challenge and over delivered on expectations. This led to the project quadrupling in scope and to a year-long consulting engagement with one of the biggest companies in North America. My willingness to be open and start anew turned a small project into one of my single biggest client engagements in more than 10+ years.
I’ve taken my lessons from being fired and they’ve made me a better person, stronger, braver and I now live the life I've always wanted, doing great work with great people and being able to help others along the way.
Being fired is tough, no words can take that away, but be brave and take the opportunity to build a better life. If you’re willing to let go and start anew, the possibilities are endless.