Surviving a lay-off or getting fired

Have you ever been laid off or fired? 

Were you fired or laid off ?

There’s a difference, albeit a minor difference, between getting laid off and getting fired. Getting laid-off means that you have been let go for no fault of your own – it’s usually because of budget cuts, some other kind of loss of funding or some whatever cause that is not your own fault. Getting fired, on the other hand, places more of the blame on you – whether it’s poor performance, tardiness, or being unsuitable for the team – the onus is a bit more on you. 

So getting laid-off = not your fault, meanwhile getting fired usually equals more your fault. However, there can be biases that your supervisor or manager has that can influence the decision to fire you (which would then inevitably make it less your fault or not your fault at all). Regardless of the details though getting let go sucks. 

Going through the motions

You start to question every decision you’ve made in life, whether you even wanted this position anyway, how you got along/did not get along with your coworkers, all the things you could have done differently, the things you could have said and done and improved. Continuing to replay these moments in our head and thinking about alternative outcomes will lead us in a devastating cycle. One where we feel unemployable, lazy and flat out sad. 

Replaying your failures is good to an extent – to examine where your errors might have been and how to correct them. If you constantly replay them, you will eventually get to a point where you believe that whatever caused you to be let go or fired is intrinsic and fixed – it cannot be changed or altered and that you are the flaw. You will believe that you have always been the problem and you will always be the problem wherever you go. 


Episode 44: Your Confidence Compass with Melanie Spring

Ask yourself these four questions

So, please do not continue to play and replay and criticize the events leading up to being let go. There may have been things you could have changed, and maybe it just wasn’t a good fit. Ask yourself these 4 questions (and follow-up questions):

  1. Did I like working here? Did it align with my passion and values?
  2. How did I feel while working here? Did I work well with my teammates? Was my manager attentive? What could I have done and what could they have done differently? 
  3. What do I value the most as an employee? What do I need to feel like a valued member of the team? Was I getting that here?
  4. What were the pros and cons of working here?


Episode 56: If opportunity doesn’t knock with Rebecca Otis Leder

Let it go

Take a day, or maybe a few days to think about these questions and then let it go. Whatever your answers come to peace with them. Whether or not there was anything you could do differently, this is your current reality and in order to face the present and look to the future we have to be realistic about out situation. Thinking about the past, will not change the past – you have to commit to a stance and work on whatever shortcomings you outlined – whether for yourself or for the organizations you choose to work with. 

Be sure to have a friend/family member/confidante you can talk to, cry with or just share memes with – to help you manage the initial shock of being let go. It never feels good to be without a job, especially when it doesn’t feel fair (and it never does).

But, you can get over this and you will come out a better, stronger, more resilient person. It will be a little rough before it gets better…but it will get better. 

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