I recently got a phone call from a colleague from a networking group. She was almost in tears- she had just been fired and was absolutely stunned.
Ugh, I know the feeling. I was fired from a job right from college and thought my life was over. I remember shaking on the train ride home. I remember calling my parents and telling them. It was awful all around.
This is what I told my colleague when she called. And we talked about why this shocking event might actually be a good thing, which I want to share with you here. Maybe not all of it will apply to your unique situation, but
- You learned what you don’t want.
Look back over the last few months of your job. Were you actually happy or was it ‘one foot in front of the other until the weekend’ kind of mentality? Chances are, if you’re being totally honest with yourself, it was a less than ideal situation. Great! Now you can write down what about that was not great for you so you can look out for it in the future and craft questions that angle to get at that for informational and real interviews. For example, if you were fired because of not ‘getting it’ (I love that one) but there wasn’t any onboarding program, maybe a good question is, “What’s the onboarding process here and how do you handle beginner mistakes?”
- You can finally go for that career change without feeling guilty.
Have you heard yourself say, “I’d love to do that when I’m older.” Or “I’d love to do that when I’ve saved up enough.” Or “I can’t leave my job- I’m too needed there.” Well, all of those hold a little bit less weight in the short to mid term since you don’t have a job! You’ve got very little, if anything, to lose, so why not go for it?
- You can find a culture that works for you.
This was behind my aforementioned fiasco. The internship was in a different country, and we had VERY different ideas of how things were done. With many years between now and then, I can see that clearly, but at the time, I was totally befuddled and stunned. So I urge you when you’re out of the shocked phase to ask yourself: Did you always agree with the culture and feel completely comfortable with what was going on? Did you really feel like you fit in or did you always feel like an outsider? A lot of the time when we’re in the thick of a job, we don’t acknowledge these things and keep pushing, but they’re a very real thing.
- You failed. Yay!
Yea, I Know. That’s weird. This was a seminal moment for me during my experience with this. I didn’t do a whole heck of a lot of failing in high school or college. Failure is good because it enables you to grow your grit and resilience factors many-fold. If you skate through everything, you’re not going to know what the heck to do when (and yes, it’s a when) something less than ideal happens.
- You can take some time for you.
Everyone has different financial situations, of course. I do urge you to take a long, hard look at yours and see what kind of exciting thing you can do for you, all while living within your means. Maybe you have a talent that can be used for freelancing from anywhere in the world. Why not go somewhere and set up shop for a few weeks or months? If you look hard enough, you’ll find deals, room shares and affordable locales all over the world. Be creative- you never know what new life chapter some sort of departure from the norm could do for you AND your career.
Remember, you will get through this and while it stings to the nth degree now, it will fade.
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