A Message for Anyone Who Just Got Laid Off
The ending you didn’t write might be the new chapter you needed.
If you just got laid off, don’t believe the lies. The lies are coming for you when you clean out your desk. The lies will creep up on you when you get reassuring and disbelieving text messages from suddenly former coworkers and colleagues from previous jobs. The lies will surround you as you write your “open to work” post on LinkedIn. The lies could consume you on the first workday that you don’t have somewhere to clock in.
But don’t believe the lies.
The lies will make you think that the loss of this job has something to do with you and your abilities. You might hear lies about your waning creativity or your advancing age or that you stayed in that role too long or that management always had it in for you.
Don’t believe the lies. You’re as good as you’ve ever been — and you’ll actually be better for having had this experience. Opportunities abound, and talent rises to the top.
Let yourself rise by dropping the weight of the lies you want to tell yourself at this moment.
A fresh start can be hard, but sometimes it’s exactly what you needed. Don’t focus on the micro-moment of this traumatic job loss and lose the macro-view of how your next opportunity will fit into the rich mosaic of your entire career.
Remember your value. Record your successes. Rely on your network. And don’t believe the lies.
I posted this on LinkedIn a couple of days ago, as waves of layoffs crashed on the once-pristine beaches of so many major tech companies. My feed was filled with people talking about the cold ways in which they had been let go after 5, 10, or even more years of loyal service to their now-former employer.
I’ve been there. And it hurts.
If the number of stress dreams that I still have about it is any indication, getting laid off was the most traumatic experience of my life — and I say that as someone who also survived cancer.
When you spend the majority of your waking week devoting your energy, skills, and time to the mission of an employer, it’s natural that the unnatural and immediate separation of a layoff will be a shock to your system.
All the work problems that plagued your after-hours brain and disrupted your dinner conversation with your spouse are no longer your bailiwick. The colleagues that you loved, hated, or indifferent-ed will soon be a memory or an occasional LinkedIn interaction.
But life will go on. All of the things that I said at the top of this post are true. Getting laid off is not necessarily a referendum on you and your skills (unless that’s what you were explicitly told when you were laid off) as much as it is an indication of the employer’s priorities at a given moment. Expansion, contraction, realignment, etc.
You can’t control that, and you never could. Don’t lie to yourself.
Ever since getting laid off, I no longer fall into a comfortable stasis at work. I understand all too keenly that this job most likely will not be my job forever, these coworkers (and I) could come and go at any moment, and all I can do is give me all while I’m there to do the job to the best of my ability. I am an at-will employee.
Being several years (and a couple of new roles) removed from the trauma of the layoff, I can see what a blessing it really was in the grand scheme of my career and personal life. This road that I never would have chosen for myself has offered less stress, new challenges, incredible opportunities, and few regrets.
If you’re in this situation right now, I’m confident you will someday soon look back in the same way — from a position of strength that you can’t imagine right now.
Keep your chin up and go find the next thing.