There are five stages to the grieving process:
The first four are difficult to go through, but they are necessary in times of loss: death of a loved one, relationships and job loss. Keep living long enough and you may experience all five levels.
I lost a job recently and I had to travel down the path of rejection. My total time in the first four levels: 5 minutes (tops). So how do you realistically minimize the grieving time if you lose a job and still keep your wits about you?
- This is Common (Denial) – Yes, you were fired, laid off, let go. It happens. You are neither the first or last person to lose a job. Go grab a decent bite to eat and decide what you are going to do next. When I lost my job, I didn’t spend time hoping they would take me back. I accepted the break up and smiled. I knew better things were in store for me.
- Never Get Angry (Anger) – I rarely get angry (don’t ask my kids that). Even if you feel that you were wrongly let go, accept it (Point No. 1) and move on. Similar to a relationship, the best revenge is to show the person, you don’t need them. Angry Facebook posts and Twitter rants will never accomplish anything other than to show the public your immaturity. Always be professional. My last boss even asked if she could write a letter of recommendation for me. It pays to take the high road.
- There is no “If only…” (Bargaining) – “If only I had sold more, then…”; “If only Kelley were was my boss, then…” Unless you are Superman, you will not be going back in time. Don’t waste time trying to figure out the different ways your career could have turned out. Be honest with yourself. If there are skills you are lacking, decide how you are going to bridge that gap. If you need to take some classes at a community college or online, sign up. This is not the end; it’s only the beginning.
- It Was Only a Job (Depression) – I know you loved your job, and you probably had great relationships with the people you worked with. However, it was only a job. Things might (will) suck for a while, but they will get better. When I lost my last job, I immediately remembered I had options: I could start my own business. Conversely, sadness would never change anything.
- Move On! (Acceptance) – This is the scariest and most exciting part of the job change. When I lost my job, I immediately realized I needed health insurance, life insurance, an income and a way to pay my bills. The next thing I thought: I am free! I can work whatever job I want, and spend more time teaching my kids. I am free to study, learn and work in whatever field I choose. When my salary was $75,000 per year, I knew I could never spend $75,001 per year because I wouldn’t have it. Now my income is limitless!
Walt Disney was once fired by the Kansas City Star because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Oprah Winfrey lost her job as an evening news reporter when the producer told her she was “unfit for television news.” Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks, Shark Tank) was fired by a small computer company. Even if you don’t start your own company, know that getting fired is never the end. It is only the beginning.