On the 13th December 2013, I was fired for the second time in my life. I had met my boss at a café in central London to discuss the first 3 months of a new job I had been deliriously excited about starting. By the time I met my boss that fateful day, it was fair to say things were not going well. Yet still, being fired was the last thing on my mind. I thought we were sitting down to discuss how we could make improvements in my role as we moved forward. He had other ideas.
You would think being fired for a second time would mean that it was somehow easier. It certainly was not. Anyone that tells you being fired is not a big deal either hates their job or they are lying. It is a big deal. The feeling of having the rug pulled out from under you is uncomfortable at best; heart wrenching and soul destroying at worst. I have learnt some hard lessons from being fired twice. And today I want to share with you my Top 5 tips for surviving losing your job.
- Keep your dignity
You have very limited control over how the other party will respond in this situation, but you have full control over how you react. There is nothing more cringe-worthy than seeing someone who has been fired react badly. Emotional out-bursts on social media, constantly slagging off their former employer or having to listen over and over again as your friend retells how they were wronged, are all examples of the worst types of behaviour when we lose our jobs.
My advice is always to do everything you can to keep your dignity in tact. Its hard to believe in the moment, but there will be a time in the not so distant future where you will be glad you keep your cool and allowed yourself to be fired with dignity. No crazy out bursts, no revenge acts. Just walk away with your head held high, knowing that you are the bigger person for not behaving badly (no matter how much you wanted to!).
- Decide the story you will tell yourself
Being fired is an emotional and confidence-hitting rollercoaster. Some days you will feel hopeful and optimistic; other days you will want to crawl back under the duvet and avoid your mobile phone. It will be up and down.
In these down moments, its important that you are telling yourself the best possible story about why you got fired. As human beings we get to choose how we interpret events in our lives. Some people will always look for the positives; others will instantly default to the negative. Its important in this situation that you get right in your head what the story is that you will tell yourself.
Re-frame the circumstances and events to be positive. Tell yourself this is an opportunity. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t blame yourself. Don’t look back with regrets. In a world where we get to create our own stories in our heads, why would you tell yourself a negative story about why you were fired? Your confidence will already be low, so create a story that lifts you up and makes you excited about the future. It’s all in your head, so make it a good one!
- Keep your routine
It’s easy when you lose your job to suddenly adopt the life of a first year university student. Of course, you have no reason to get up at 6am anymore, so why would you? Trust me; resist the temptation to morph back into your 18-year-old self.
Keeping your routine – particularly the hours you sleep – is an incredibly important part of keeping your sanity as the reality of unemployment starts to hit you. You will soon while away the days if you wake up at 10am and binge watch Netflix every morning.
Get up at the same time you did whilst working. Go to bed at the same time. And in between build a new routine that fills your days with productive endeavours. You will feel in control and ready to take on the world. And this will be much better for your mental health than back-to-back episodes of Game of Thrones.
- Arrange coffees with old colleagues and friends
Speaking of productive endeavours, arranging coffee catch up’s with old friends and colleagues is a surprisingly easy way to fill your day. Not only will it get you back out talking to people, networking and hopefully finding your dream new role, the task of contacting and scheduling coffee days will feel not dissimilar to a working routine. Again, this feeling of having important things to do and people to see will help keep you sane when things start to get tough.
Plus, as I already mentioned, this is straight forward networking. Getting back in contact with people will open doors and opportunities that you don’t even know exist yet. And since you aren’t working you will be surprised how many people you can meet in a week.
The key to this is to ensure that after each meeting you ask your coffee date if there is anyone else they think you should meet. Most people will happily put you in contact with one or two more people and before you know it, you have a new job as a professional coffee drinker!
- Plan a celebration dinner with your closest friends
Keeping social is another very important part of enduring unemployment and the experience of being fired. Most people who have been fired report ‘shame’ as an overriding emotion. And it is this emotion that will often lead you to want to avoid the people you know. It’s important not to do this. Being fired, whilst feeling like something to be ashamed of, is definitely not. Being fired is so much more common than we think. You will be surprised how many people can identify with the experience.
It is for this reason that I recommend, within the first week of unemployment, you gather a group of your closest friends and throw a celebration party. What are we celebrating? The opportunity life has thrown your way. The chance to take on a new challenge. The chance to grow and learn and create a new life that would not have happened had you not been fired.
A celebration party is important for two reasons. Firstly, it gives you the chance to be surrounded by the people that love you and to realise that no one is judging you and you have no reason to feel ashamed. Secondly, it’s an important step in re-framing how you approach the experience of being fired. By throwing a celebration party, you are saying to the world ‘I’m ready for whatever you have to throw at me and I’m making this experience a positive one’. If you throw a celebration party, you head will be in the right place to learn and grow and create a new life even better than the one you are leaving behind!
Found these tips useful?