The Layoff

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The layoff. Few things are more unsettling. That lurching sensation in the pit of your stomach when receiving the news you will no longer be employed. A wave of anger, shock and despair set in as you collect your belongings and make your way to the front door. Why does the exit suddenly seem so much farther than remembered? It doesn’t matter if you sensed an imminent threat for weeks or the news surprised to the point of disbelief and outright denial. It’s never pleasant.

I remember being laid off like it was yesterday. What will I do now? What will become of me? How will I pay my bills? Strangely the former surpassed the latter in great jolts of intensity. I realized in that moment that I was not nearly as important as I thought I was and that despite the story I had been myself, the company would survive without me. What? This new reality seemed impossible and yet there I was wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Sounds dramatic right?

How often do we allow our jobs to assume our identity? I am nothing without this job I thought to myself as a wave of self-pity washed over me.

The truth was I hated my job. I had been miserable for months and this new found freedom was just handed to me like a golden ticket to the chocolate factory; a place filled with unlimited possibility and potential. I just couldn’t see that yet.

Thankfully, several years later I am grateful for that rather displeasing and unexpected day. I’ve thought many times about sending my former bosses hand written thank you notes for releasing me to what was without a doubt a blessing in disguise. That's an understatement.

With the immense round of layoffs True Religion has set in motion, I’ve received dozens of emails from freshly former employees seeking new opportunities. One email in particular gave me cause for pause. “Although it is never a good time to lose a job, I am eager to explore new opportunities, and start my next chapter.” I would argue that such a positive outlook, wisdom and joy is not the norm but rather the exception when one experiences the loss of a job. Admittedly I felt a sense of shame and jealousy I had not taken this perspective at least initially.

A few things to keep in mind when experiencing the loss of a job. First let’s remind ourselves of a few easily forgotten truths.

·         Don’t take it personal. It’s just business.

·         It’s just a job and you will find another one.

·         You are not your job. Let me say it another way. Your job is not your identity.

Examine your previous role with scrutiny. Make a list of the pros and cons of both your position and former employer.

·         Were you fulfilled? Notice I didn’t say happy. Happiness is a relative term. Jobs aren’t always easy or happy nor should they be.  Happiness is often a byproduct of fulfillment by way of pursuing one’s purpose. Were you able to utilize your greatest strengths?

·         Did you thrive in the company culture and team environment? Were you challenged in a healthy way? Did the company and manager encourage you to learn and grow?

What did you love about your job or company? What was left to be desired? Now that you are able to take a step back and objectively examine the evidence you will be able to make a clear and intelligent decision as to which roles and potential employers you wish to pursue.

The reality which most of us chose to call home is that we would have never looked outside of the warmth and safety of routine had we not been pushed out into the uncomfortable.

During the time of in between take advantage of perspective.

Pursue perspective like a wait listed Balmain blazer.

Maybe you’ll decide to venture into the rewards and challenges of self-employment. You’ve been threatening to start you own line for how long? Maybe you’ll choose the freedom and flexibility of consultancy. Or maybe you’ll compile the knowledge and experience you have gained from your former life and decide to actively pursue a role that’s really right for you. Whichever path you choose there is no greater fulfillment in life than pursuing one’s purpose. Choose your own adventure.

“You’re the boss applesauce.”  – Andy Warhol

Photo Credit: The Ashley's Reality Roundup