Getting laid off in 2003 rocked my world off its axis. It was one of the darkest days of my life. I was devastated and it took me completely by surprise. Looking back, there were many omens or foreshadowings or hints that I should have picked up on in order to see it coming – but I was clueless at the time.
I learned a lot from being laid off. I learned that good people do get laid off and that it’s not a black mark on me or my career. In fact, far from it – I’ve continued to thrive and grow in my career since that day!
I also learned that true friends and loved ones will rally around you and support you during bad times. My mom and best friends were amazing but my husband – then boyfriend – was my rock. In fact, in some ways, getting laid off may have sped up our relationship and spurred us to move in together and ultimately get engaged. He sure proved through his actions and behavior during that time that he was THE ONE and a total keeper!
Through that life-changing layoff, I learned that you can do a good job and still fall prey to office politics or other underlying issues. A layoff does represent a failure in some ways – but it can become a productive failure. It became really clear to me that to truly succeed and sustain in professional life, you really have to be savvy, build relationships across and throughout your company, and never get complacent or take a job for granted. In addition, I learned the importance of having a strong network outside of the company or organization you work for – people you can talk to, meet for coffee or tea and share information and knowledge about the job market and any open opportunities.
15 years ago, getting laid off nearly broke me – until I figured out how to rise above it and make lemonade out of that bitter lemon. Truly, it has never been a black mark of any kind on my career. I continue to grow and get better professionally and take on bigger and better roles. I turned that dark “AFOG” (Another F*#$ing Opportunity for Growth!) into a valuable life lesson.
History repeats itself
But you know what? Sometimes life throws us a curve ball more than once. Sometimes we have to re-learn lessons or learn them again a slightly different way. Because I got laid off again this year – 15 years later to the exact month! A door closed unexpectedly for me this year again, and although it was a blow, I’m happy to say that I rallied and made the best of it. I’m good at finding silver linings – sometimes TOO good – and the silver lining for me this year was that I got to spend the summer off with Zoe. It was an unanticipated gift and a blessing.
I’m certainly not glad I got laid off either time – it causes a lot of financial stress and hurts emotionally like any other rejection or break-up – but I AM glad that I learned from the experience, turned it into something great for our family, and ultimately will end up in an even better organization and role than I was in before.
I’m also super glad that I’m a working mom because it made ALL the difference. When I got laid off as a single person with no kids, it was devastating and felt like my whole world was ending. Now, my professional career is just one facet of my life and one part of who I am as a person. Thanks to Z, I’m a mom now and forever – and that’s my ultimate job and responsibility! I saw my summer lay-off as an opportunity to focus more on “job one” – meaning spending time with my daughter. I wouldn’t change the time we’ve spent together for the world. She thanked me the other night for this amazing summer and all the time we’ve spent together, and I was speechless with happiness.
In addition to finding strength in my family, while going through this second layoff experience and networking a ton, I found some terrific professional advice for anyone who’s been laid off. First, this piece in Forbes is a must-read. Then, there’s a two-part series by Richard Gawlas on LinkedIn that really helped me a lot! The Day You Are Let Go, Float Like a Butterfly and The Day After You Get Let Go, Sting Like a Bee both have solid advice and found me just at the precise right time. I so appreciated reading them and I hope you will, too.
I’m thrilled to be taking the next steps in my professional career soon, and also happy I’ve been able to use this summer to re-connect with not just my family, but also many friends and professional associates in person over coffees and lunches. I’ve even made some new connections and helped a few other people along the way.
Have you ever been laid off from a job – and if so, how did you handle it? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below or over on Facebook.