4 Things You Need to Do As Soon As You Get Fired

 


I just got fired and it sucked. It doesn’t matter that it was the right choice, it doesn’t matter that it wasn’t really a surprise, and it doesn’t matter that it frees me up to try something new and maybe better for me.

During an extremely painful ten-minute meeting, I was told it wasn’t them, it was me. My email access was revoked so quickly I got whiplash. Suddenly, something to which I’d devoted over a year of my life was gone.

If you’ve also been fired, recently or not, there’s no real way to make that awful feeling go away. It takes time, processing, and healing.

However, doing these four things will get you on the right path.

1. Do something to feel powerful.

Right now, you’re feeling powerless. The provider of your wages, your day-to-day activities, and, in many cases, benefits like 401K and healthcare, has revoked those and you had no choice in the matter. That’s what got me the most — even though ultimately I agreed with their decision, I had no say in it.

The remedy for this is to do something that makes you feel powerful. You can pick something creative, so you’ll have something tangible you can look at, like a cake or a painting. If you’re not feeling creative, you can do something physically empowering, like going for a run or doing a set of circuits.

Having choices taken out of your hands is terrible. You can’t get that choice back, but you can do something to feel more empowered now.

2. Do something to look forward to.

Right now, you’re looking back. Maybe you’re reliving the meeting, or trying to pinpoint when it all started going wrong. That’s normal, but it’s not helpful.

Instead, point yourself in the right direction: forward. It’s hard to do this now, especially in a pandemic, but organize something that you will look forward to. This can be a trip (for instance, I’m writing this right now from Germany, where I’ve just been finally reunited with my husband after 9 months), a coffee with friends, or purchasing a subscription box online.

I won’t be able to stop you or myself from looking back, but it’s better to look forward — and easier if you have something to look forward to.

3. Do something you’re good at.

Right now, you’re feeling useless. I, like many other people, took pride in my work. Up until recently, it was something I’d believed I excelled at. Most of us love doing what we’re good at, and it is like a gut punch to be told that you’re not good at what you thought you were.

The afternoon I got fired, I wrote a story. It’s something I know I’m good at, and it was almost like a relief from pain to do something that lies firmly in my skillset.

When you’re fired, it’s because you weren’t good enough for them. You can’t change that or how much that hurts, but you can remind yourself of what skills you are good at. Nobody will be able to take that away from you.

4. Do something frivolous.

Right now, you’re reaching for stability. You might be tempted to scour job boards, worry about health care, check your finances.

Unfortunately, there will be plenty of time for sensible choices later. Now, it’s more important to remind yourself that it is possible to enjoy yourself and that there’s more to life than work. I called my friends, and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon drinking wine and watching trashy reality TV, instead of the 4 client calls I normally would have taken.

Americans in particular can be guilty of living to work, instead of working to live, which is why many of us take being fired so hard. It takes a lifetime to unlearn that attitude, but you can start today by doing something that you love, that doesn’t make you money or progress your career.

Ican’t change the fact that I was fired. I can’t control how I feel about it, and I won’t be able to stop my self-esteem from plunging. But these four things made me feel better on one of the worst days of my life, and they've set me on the right path to a happier life.

By taking back some power, by giving myself something to look forward to, by reminding myself of the skills I do have, and by exploring my life outside of my job, I was able to move on, at least a little, from being fired from something I once considered my dream job.

If you’re in the same boat, these actions may help you, too.