What happens when life doesn’t go your way? Do you let the actions of others determine how you respond? Do you look for the silver lining? These were the questions running through my head the day I was let go from my job during an unexpected layoff.
“Life’s about changing nothing ever stays the same.” It’s a classic Patty Loveless lyric (YouTube it) that tugs at the heartstrings. I mention it because it tells a true-life lesson. Change is inevitable. Being forced to close a chapter of my life has been a unique situation for me. You see, I’m a planner, I’m organized, I’m that “two steps ahead” type of person. I was working on making a graceful exit on my own, so being put into this situation I wasn’t expecting, but was planning for, really knocked the wind out of my sails. I think I asked myself the same questions anyone in my shoes would ask:
- Am I not good at my job?
- Did I not work hard enough?
- Do I have the wrong skills?
- Does management not like my work style?
My initial reaction was shocked, but pretty quickly I became relieved. The decision was made for me, but it was now time to move on to something new and exciting. This experience has taught me a few things about myself that I wasn’t fully aware of until being laid off.
- I’m a rock star. I’m adaptable, flexible and can go with the flow. I can turn this bad situation into a good one. Only I can do that. I now have the opportunity to spend this summer with my two young kids, swimming in pools, going to the movies and going for bike rides. I may never get the chance again to spend the summer with my children while I find my next career move that excites me.
- I have a huge network. My network of friends, family and past coworkers are all working to find me the best gig. I’m getting emails and texts about jobs, even asking about freelancing and contract work. I am truly blessed to have this great network of people who know I am solid performer and whom are willing to stick their necks out for me.
- I’m a pessimist turned optimist. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. I could be wallowing, upset, frustrated – but where does that get me? Nowhere. My dad always tells me, “Worry about something you can control.” Only I can control the way I handle things, and I am choosing to handle this bump in the road with grace. Don’t pity me, because I’m not pitying myself.
This situation has taught me so much about the type of employee and leader I want to be. I will continue to be a leader who demonstrates my values to others. I will continue to be leader who walks the talk. I will continue to be a leader and a voice for staff amongst me. I will continue to be a lifelong learner and encourage the same in others.
If you ever find yourself in this same situation, here are my tips to you:
- Lean on your network. Your network of friends and family want to support you and be of help. 70% of jobs are found through word of mouth, even after the invention of the Internet. Spread your resume around to everyone you know and then some. Used LinkedIn to introduce yourself and make connections – and not just while job searching, even after you have landed a job. Continue to build your network.
- Turn lemons into lemonade. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Find the good in the situation and try to move on. I’m getting to enjoy extra time this summer with my kids.
- Do some soul searching. Figuring out what I want in a new job has taken some serious reflection. Do I want to stay in this same career field? Try something new? Move up in the proverbial “ladder”? This has been a great opportunity for me to find a new career move that excites me and pushes me further as a professional.
“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates. I’m choosing to look at this as an opportunity. An opportunity for me to do something bigger, something better and something that pushes me to grow as a person and as a professional. I hope that you never find yourself in this situation, but if you do, maybe you can make lemonade too.