About that time I got fired…
We recently organized the 2023 Elizabeth Seton High School Career Day. It is powerful to be in the presence of successful women across various industries. The real joy is seeing the students start to connect the dots of what they are passionate about as a possible future career.
I introduced our guests from the Maryland Department of Labor Professional Outplacement Assistance Center. who would lead a resume workshop. Then I began to tell the students that I learned about POAC because I had lost my job many years ago - to which they gasped. I let them know that it’s ok; it happens a lot. I asked them to think of job loss as a possible blessing.
As they stared at me, I realized they had not learned this yet about careers - that they can go in various directions. For young folks, we can replace losing a job with - not getting a spot on a team, a role in a play, or being accepted to your top choice of college.
When I consider my own career path and my various failures, I feel that initial embarrassment and self-doubt. The sensation of being gut-punched and the pain radiating to my limbs, my face getting red. It’s a type of grief - the career I identified with so strongly, the hard work and the long hours that were spent, to end up in this spot now feels useless.
After the immediate shock of losing your job wears off - then what? That’s where it can get interesting. This is when you can get curious and explore what is possible. In my consulting business, when times are slow, proposals aren’t accepted or clients move on - I take the time to feel this loss. It usually leads me down new avenues.
Here are the best parts of job loss:
It’s all about you: You have an opportunity to take a step back and assess your priorities. What lights you up? Re-evaluate your skills and interests. Perhaps a new path or personal pursuits.*
Work-Life Fulfillment: If your work has been all-consuming or a source of stress and dissatisfaction, the loss provides relief as you open up to healthier work environments. It also gives you more free time to focus on relationships, self-care, and hobbies which can lead to new opportunities.
Connecting: My favorite thing - I’m a connector by nature. Being unemployed allows you time to connect with others in your field, leading to referrals or mentorship opportunities. People want to help; you have to take that first step.
Feedback: Receiving feedback from others can provide valuable insights into areas where you can improve. My friend and former colleague Nicole always says, “Poke holes in my game…”
Money: Financial fears and burdens are real. You now have an opportunity to ask for more or create your own financial resources.
It is important to acknowledge that this is a challenging experience and everyone’s situation is different. If you find yourself in this situation, it may be helpful to switch your focus. View failures as an important aspect of growth and development, not as a reflection of your abilities or worth. Failure is a natural part of the learning process, and it's okay to make mistakes.
I was once told in a job review to “take more risks.” I had no idea what that meant. I still don’t really know how to define it other than to say “Do that thing that is pretty scary and feels really uncomfortable.” Inevitably, the bigger risks can lead to the bigger falls and bigger successes.
* I would be happy to help your business get back on track or with your career next steps! Email me.