When the call came 5 months ago, I was actually expecting a conversation about a promotion. The company had just merged and everyone in sales (without regard for skill, geography, or performance) that had been with the company for less than a year was canned. Ex-squeeze me? Baking powder? (said in Wayne Campbell voice). We were in the middle of closing on a house and basically living on my paycheck alone. Rarely is there a “good” time for a layoff, but this hurt.
I’ve never felt so numb. In an instant, I went to the worst-case scenario. I was certain that we would be homeless in a few days, cars repossessed, and my kids would be holding up signs at the intersection. My family had their own issues and wouldn’t be able to help, and I would be too proud to ask or accept anyway. My friends wouldn’t want to associate with such a loser. And, my wife would probably leave me to find someone that could provide. The fact is layoffs are common and rarely have anything to do with performance, or at least in medical sales, but still I felt embarrassment, shame, rejection, guilt, confusion, and anger.
I had a pity-party for about 4 hours, then I made the decision that being upset and worried would not get me another job or pay the bills. So I reported immediately to my new “job” of getting a new job.
I was able to get a better paying job in 3 weeks, but during this “short” time, which seemed like years, I learned a few things:
- My job is NOT my identity
- Men are especially guilty of this. When we meet another guy, one of the first questions we ask is “So, what do you do?” When you lose a job, you answer this question about yourself…”I am nothing.” Ugh. We are so much more than a job title. I thought I knew this, but it took a layoff to help me really understand this.
- My life is determined by ME
- I never again want to let a group of executives in a different state determine my future or happiness. Starting to blog stemmed from this.
- I was NOT prepared
- I didn’t have a plan because these things only happen to “other people”. Financial security and planning have come back to the front of my mind.
“Life rewards your action, not your desire.” tweet
If your life is fully at the mercy of your company, do yourself a huge favor and start to think about how you can become financially independent. It doesn’t happen overnight and I’m certainly not there yet either, but I am using this experience as a way to change my situation and my future. Your next steps in life are determined by the decisions you make now. Decide that you are not your job title, that you are in control of your life, and decide to make a plan to move you closer to financial independence.
If you’ve been laid off in the past, what would you tell someone going through it right now? Join the discussion!