Losing your job by being fired is hardly a positive thing at the time of the firing. It almost always stings, brings with it embarrassment and shock, and is rarely the kind of thing that prompts you to call up all your friends and family and say, “I was fired today; let’s go out and celebrate!”
No, in reality, being fired is often a time when people go into shock, with feelings ranging from numbness and fear, to anger and resentment. The sudden loss of employment can come as a huge hit to the self-esteem, and a person can go into social hibernation, hiding their unemployment from others.
Yet finding yourself forced out of a job can be liberating. It could be that the writing was on the wall; your performance wasn’t what it should be, you just weren’t happy there for a long time. Maybe if they hadn’t fired you, you would never have had what it takes to quit and move on to something else; something better. In this sense then, having someone else make that decision for you can later on be a blessing.
This is the very situation several people I know have found themselves in; people I count as former clients, and some I know in my personal life as good friends. Now let me again state that at the time of the firings, there wasn’t much joy. Most of those people told me that they were hurt, shocked, angry and they felt unjustly treated. At those moments, it would hardly be the time for me to have said, “Well, getting fired is a good thing in the long run, you’ll see.”
It’s important to see the person who loses their job much like the person who loses a family member. There is a time when the loss is sudden, unexpected and time has to be set aside for grieving. Someone might even try to bargain with the employer, pleading to reinstate them in a desperate attempt to hold on to the employment and making promises to change.
After the grieving period, when the person turns to looking for the next job, the key things the unemployed usually deal with are both the stress related to the unknown length of time they will remain unemployed, and the stigma of having been fired. Even though we’ve all heard of people being laid off, fired, terminated with cause – it never seems to be entirely relevant until it happens to us; to you. Then, the full impact of being terminated becomes personal. Suddenly you have a first-hand appreciation for what it truly feels like to be dumped and without the security employment brings.
Now even when you saw it coming in retrospect, it isn’t pleasant to experience. The moment you’re hearing those words come out of the person’s mouth can still come as a shock. A number of questions floods through your mind: Can I get my personal belongings ? When do I get my last pay? How do I get out without all the other people – now my former colleagues – watch me be walked out? This certainly isn’t the time to be expected to see a larger picture or the good in being terminated. You’re living second to second at this point, and thinking the same way.
I will tell you that in several but not all of the personal situations I am aware of where a person has been terminated in the last two years, the fired people found employment. One even launched his own franchise business. In talking to them today, while they wouldn’t want to be fired again, they do see the positives looking back in getting out from jobs they had grown stale in and a couple of cases had come to loathe. Being released from a job they would never have quit on their own as it turns out was a good thing.
In some ways it’s been compared to a spouse announcing they want a divorce. Just like the job, you may have already known things were far from the best, but that announcement can hit hard. At some point down the road that announcement could be the best thing for both of you, but on your own, you’d never have initiated the break up. Finding yourself with a partner that better matches up with your current needs is like finding a better fit with respect to your employment via a new job.
Another thing that can and often does occur is that once employed again, your sincere appreciation for employment rises. You have empathy you never had for others who lose work. That feeling of entitlement, a guaranteed position is replaced with a strong understanding of how fast things can change.
If you are trapped in a job that you don’t love anymore, you can appreciate how the loss of employment gives a person the luxury of time to explore other opportunities that would bring greater happiness and fulfillment. Your seniority, benefits, age or vacation entitlements might have you feeling you can’t possibly look for other jobs that would bring you greater happiness. It is only when you are free of your current job – sometimes involuntarily – that you can turn to exploring other options with enthusiasm and purpose.
I don’t wish being fired upon any of you, but should you find yourself terminated, understand there can be positives in the experience