Lindsay Bell

Five Reasons Getting Fired isn’t the End of the World

By: Lindsay Bell | December 27, 2017 | 

When Laura Petrolino messaged me to tell me one of my Spin Sucks articles had made the “top posts of 2017” list, I was gobsmacked.

Mainly because it’s a rather old post.

And also because I haven’t been around for a few years (insert sad face)!

But I was also secretly really pleased.

I was secretly pleased because, as I re-read the piece, I was reminded of how losing a job had inspired me to make a massive career change.

And how that massive career change had inspired me to see the world differently.

It inspired me to see myself differently and to place value on “doing what you love.”

It also made me reflect a bit about these past few years.

My life has taken a few huge turns!

After 28 years of Toronto living, I’ve moved across the country, back to the Maritime Provinces and my family.

I’ve taken steps to reduce the amount of stress and mayhem I will tolerate in my life (and HOLY COW is it ever hard to stop wearing “insanely busy” as a badge of honor!).

And I’ve switched jobs a few different times.

But I’ve never forgotten those five core lessons I learned that first time the rug was rather abruptly—and unceremoniously—yanked out from under my feet.

I’m happy to say that, even after all these years, I still look back on that day as a game changer for me.

A negative which turned into a positive and taught me so much about who I was, and who I wanted to be—both as a person, and an employee.

Oh! Another little side note (because everything’s not all about you, Lindsay. Wait. What…?).

My friend, who got fired on a Monday and inspired this post?

She’s doing swimmingly and is very happily settled into a new life path also. Yay her!

So without further ado, a blast from the past…………….

Day of Reckoning

A good friend of mine got fired this week.

On a Monday.

What type of company fires people on a Monday??

Anyhow, we texted back and forth about it, and in one of those texts, she mentioned she’d never been fired before.

In 40 years in the workforce, she had never received a pink slip.

Oh, she’d left gigs in the past, moved around and up the ladder.

But always on her clock, when it was time to explore bigger and better things.

You’re Fired!

Forty years and never been fired is a pretty impressive statement.

I was at 20 years (and counting) before it happened to me the first time.

Our conversation took me right back to that warm summer day a couple years back when I was fired the first time.

Not ‘let go,’ but properly fired, like ‘no clue whatsoever it’s coming’ fired.

Interestingly enough, the last text my friend sent was about how strangely excited she was.

And I agreed. Because while we all have “Man, I really wish I was doing X, Y, Zed instead of A, B, C” moments, most of us don’t have the flexibility to choose to take big leaps.

Whether due to the kids, mortgage, or other debts or commitments, actually choosing to leave a job in this economy is considered reckless at best, downright ridiculous at worst.

But as my pal mentioned, I too found being let go strangely gratifying. Freeing even.

Five Reasons Getting Fired isn’t the End of the World

Here are a few things I discovered in the days and weeks following my own termination.

  1. You are forced to take a hard, honest look at yourself: You are no longer employed for a reason. Company restructuring or company politics. End of a contract or end of a career. Your life has changed, and somehow, someway, somewhere, you played a role. Figure out the ‘why’ before thinking about the ‘what’s next.’
  2. You discover who your industry friends are: You should already know who your ‘real life’ friends are. I certainly know mine. But, especially if you work in the wonderful world of social media, it can sometimes feel like you have ‘thousands’ of friends. Trust me. You don’t. That said, whether in online life or real life, the ones who truly matter will step up. They’ll pass your name around or send freelance work your way, and help lead you one step closer to stability.
  3. You receive the gift of time: Yeah, yeah, I know, I know, bills to pay and all that other nonsense. But schedule yourself a few hours of worry-free time a day – what you will gain is immeasurable. Read. Reconnect with people you haven’t chatted with in awhile (see above). Most importantly, clear your mind, allow it to wander, and start to really think.
  4. You get out of your comfort zone: Comfort zones are not necessarily bad places to be, if you’re content and happy. But most of us want to keep learning, doing, and achieving more. When you’re working at a stressful job week after week, at times the comfort zone becomes your default button. Between work, kids, house, and spouse it’s difficult to muster up the energy to tackle something new. Now, that comfort zone is gone. Go crazy!
  5. You get to be you again: If only for a short while, until that next gig comes along, you really get to be you. We all conform somewhat to the voice of the organization we are employed by, and depending on your role, you might have been conforming a lot! That’s normal, and is part of being a part of a team, and being loyal and respectful to your employer. But the freedom to shed that voice and let your personality really shine is as invigorating as a cold shower.

At first, being fired is definitely shocking, painful and extremely hard on the ol’ self esteem.

And the above are simply my personal revelations, things I learned when I got canned.

I know a lot of you out there have been (or still are!) in similar situations.

And to my newly fired friend, I wish you bon voyage! You just might be embarking on the trip of a lifetime. 

What else would you add to this list? Please share in the comments below.

The 30-Day Communications Challenge begins on January 3. Are you subscribed?

About Lindsay Bell

Lindsay Bell is the content director at V3 Marketing, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, two annoying cats, and Hank Dawge, a Vizsla/Foxhound/moose hybrid. Ok, maybe not moose.

  • Yup. Yup. Yup.

    • belllindsay

      @jasonkonopinski Phone!! Phone! Brrrriiiiinngggg!!!!!

  • AMEN to this! 🙂 Any huge life shift gives us the opportunity to examine ourselves. What’s amazing is that oftentimes even though it seems like the worst news ever, a year from now we all say something similar to “everything happens for a reason and I wouldn’t be HERE now if I hadn’t been fired (or divorced or had triplets….)

    • @TaraGeissinger Exactly! Great post Lindsay…this will come in handy when Gini fires you next week 😉 Hahahaha!! Kidding, kidding!!

      • belllindsay

        @yvettepistorio  @TaraGeissinger BAHAHAHA!

    • belllindsay

      @TaraGeissinger That’s exactly my mantra Tara – I actually am SO thankful for the rough (and I mean ROUGH) patches in my life – you learn so much about yourself, what you will and won’t tolerate, who your friends are, how strong you are, etc.. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world – unless maybe someone offered me a million dollars. I might have to think about it then….! LOL

      • @belllindsay I wouldn’t trade the *people* in my life for a million dollars, but everything else? Um, yeah. Definitely some thought would need to go into that!

        • belllindsay

          @TaraGeissinger I might even trade one or two people. 😉

  • CommProSuzi

    Sometimes what you find is your smile again!  I did.  I also added to my skill set, met some great new people, and learned that I didn’t do anyone any favors by staying, especially myself.  Use this time to deepen your roots so you can support your future blooms!

    • belllindsay

      @CommProSuzi Oh yes. It was tough – it IS tough – but if you can find your smile again it’s ultimately worth it, isn’t it? Fear sucks, and it’s so easy to be run by fear. 🙂

  • Aww, LB, I love you- ” “Man, I really wish I was doing X, Y, Zed instead of A, B, C” moments, ” Keeping it REAL! 
    Thanks for this. I had the…good chance?… to be fired from a serving job when I was still in university. It taught me A LOT! Really, it wasn’t about me at all- the business owner was in bad shape financially, and personally as running a business with your spouse is far from easy. Learning this- that sometimes it isn’t about whether or not your best is good enough- really helped set me up for my career in sales. There are so many factors that go in to a decision, and rarely are you ever given all of them. 
    Business relationships are much like our personal relationships; sometimes, we make excuses for our bad jobs- it’s only temporary, we had a bad year last year, I just need to work harder, try a different strategy- we focus so much on what we THINK we can do to remedy the situation that sometimes we overlook the obvious- this just ain’t working.  You mention how “crazy” it is to quit a job in this economy, and we justify our choices this way- this is a stop-gap solution to get us where we need to go, and then things will magically be perfect. But sometimes, there just isn’t anything there to save. Sometimes, being free from that bad relationship, personal or professional, can change the world. I quit my first professional position, and let me tell you, in some ways it would have been easier to be fired. It was rough having to admit “I can’t do this!”. Yet as you mentioned, once I got out of the shadow of a role that just wasn’t a good match for my skills, the world opened up. Sunshine and lollipops. Now I have a job so perfectly suited to who I am, both professionally and personally, that life couldn’t get much better. I have the feels that you experienced the same, LB, and it’s been awesome watching you soar in your new role. 
    All the best to your friend! As much as the first few days may sting, their incredible professional track record says that this is just a tiny bump in the road. If I can be of any assistance networking or finding new roles, please just let me know how I can help!

    • belllindsay

      @RebeccaTodd HA! Thought you might like my Zed! Rebecca, I was in the exact same place at the CBC – stayed for a bunch of important reasons (kid, mortgage, divorce, etc.) but I was so miserable it started to affect my health – to the point where I ended up in hospital. Once my life settled down somewhat, I up and left. Twenty years gone. It was terrifying but the best decision ever. Thanks so much for your kind words my friend, I am super happy now – more than ever – and this transition into social/digital/whatever you want to call it is exactly what I needed – and probably should have always been doing! 🙂 xox

      • @belllindsay  @RebeccaTodd Zed is such a Canadian thing. I didn’t know what some coworkers were talking about at first, until I traced it back from Y and X. Then it made sense!

  • I am going to share this with a few friends who I think could use the boost. I have never been fired but I have walked away to something not as stable.. such as when I left a great paying job because I HAD to go back to collage. Thank you for your insight.

    • belllindsay

      @aimeelwest I walked away from a pensioned/seniority job after 20 years. People thought I was INSANE! LOL But I was only miserable and had been for years. It was hard, but ultimately the best thing I ever did. So many other doors opened up for me. 🙂

      • @belllindsay  @aimeelwest I always tell my husband, it’s just not worth it to work in a job where you’re unhappy. It makes the rest of your life miserable. So kudos to you for braving it out and leaving a miserable place.

        • belllindsay

          @yvettepistorio  @aimeelwest Yup, you’re right Yvette!

        • @yvettepistorio  You are so right. If you are miserable it seeps into everything you do. @belllindsay

      • @belllindsay I hear what you are saying I did that when I quit to go back to college. I was not happy where I was, I saw the winds of change coming to the company (now I’m so glad I left!) and I was not going to be promoted anyway because I didn’t have a degree. Going back even though I was older and had a family was really the best thing I could have done. I found what I love to do and I’m darn good at it!

        • belllindsay

          @aimeelwest I love hearing stories like that!!

  • Not only do you discover who your industry friends are, but you also discover who your real, true friends are and who you might not have considered a friend.

    • belllindsay

      @econwriter5 Exactly! That very thing happened to me!

  • rdopping

    Vizsla/Foxhound? Holy smokes. I have never been fired but I have had to “let go” 3 people in my 20+ years in the biz. It’s no fun for anyone especially when it’s economy based. I learned a lot about what little needs to be said on the last one. Zoinks.
    Never fire someone on a Monday or Friday. That’s crass. The best days are Tuesday or Thursday. Sounds awful but true.
    Clearly I have NO insight other than from the opposite side of the table but have to say that the best approach is be respectful, very brief and never waver no matter how big the flames get.
    I do lover your positivity. That’s probably the best advice anyone can get.

    • belllindsay

      @rdopping I just talked with someone recently who’s been on the firing side also Ralph – they said the same thing – unless you’re a heartless beast, it really does suck. 🙂

      • @belllindsay  @rdopping I have witnessed companies who fire right before Christmas

        • belllindsay

          @allenmireles  @rdopping Ho ho ho!

        • rdopping

          @allenmireles @belllindsay you get what you give. Karma is a bitch.

  • The gift of time is a wonderful thing.  It’s a reset button for one’s mind.  It’s also a chance to experiment with new things — there’s so much happening in the online space — that often when we are too busy to delve into the nuances. 
    Mitch Joel has a nice post up today where one point is “Everyday you are writing your resume.”  I found that to be pretty compelling and when we’ve got the time, we can definitely do some polishing on a resume. 
    As a side note, I’ve long read that letting employees go, or firing them on a Monday is preferable, because they have a week where they can do something about it.  Letting people go on a Friday means they go home on the weekend and stew.  FWIW.

    • belllindsay

      @Frank_Strong “A reset button” – I love that – and it’s so true. I actually have Mitch’s post saved Frank!  I’m looking forward to reading it. Interesting re: the Monday/Friday discussion – I always felt it was a bit mean to bring someone in on a Monday – only to fire them! HA! At least on a Friday you can gather your pals to drown your sorrows! 😉 That said, my last “lay off” happened on a Tuesday, so what do I know.

  • I’ve been fired and I’ve been let go. Or maybe they just let me go because they didn’t want to fire me. Who knows. The last time it happened is what propelled me to start my business. Which led me to meeting awesome people like Gini and my now partner, Adrienne. I am now able to do what I want for our clients as well as serve my family needs. It is the best life ever. Okay. I lie. The best life ever would be to win the lottery AND do what I do 😉
    Being fired on a Monday would stink.. I was with one company who always did it on Tuesday. So much in fact, we called it Turley Tuesday (after the president) and the subsequent email the “Future Endeavors” email from him 🙂

    • belllindsay

      @KristenDaukas Oh man that made me laugh right out loud Kristen!! “Turley Tuesday” – hahaha! I love what Frank said below about it being a “reset button for the mind” – that gift of time – so true and frankly, an opportunity that so few of us have the opportunity to ever grab. So, instead it’s forced upon you? It’s still that SAME opportunity, right? I love that you started your business after a lay off – sort of like me and my 180 degree career turn. Finding the positives out of the negatives is a powerful way to take control back. 🙂

    • @KristenDaukas “Future Endeavors” oh that is rich, @KristenDaukas

  • PattiRoseKnight1

    I have discovered that no matter how bad a situation looks; everything happens for a reason.  The next gig may be just what you’ve been looking for but didn’t even know it.

    • belllindsay

      @PattiRoseKnight1 Has happened to me more than a few times! 🙂

      • PattiRoseKnight1

        @belllindsay but now you are with us and I hope you are happier….I know I love having you on the team 🙂

        • belllindsay

          @PattiRoseKnight1 Oh wow – never been happier! And thanks so much Patti! 😀

        • @belllindsay “the next gig…”  quote from @PattiRoseKnight1 makes me think of my PopPop he always said you have 3 jobs. Job 1 The job you left – Job 2 The job you are currently at and Job 3 The next job you will have. He felt that if you should always be looking for something better even if you were happy where you were at because you never know what you will find. I have taken that to heart and really tried to keep my eyes open for new opportunities because well you never know what is out there.

        • belllindsay

          @aimeelwest  @PattiRoseKnight1 I love that!!

    • @PattiRoseKnight1 The trick is having patience for the reason to reveal itself.

      • PattiRoseKnight1

        @econwriter5 easier said than done I know.

    • @PattiRoseKnight1 So, so true!

  • KevinVandever

    Hasn’t @ginidietrich fired you at least a dozen times? Nice post. Great to keep in mind should that Frid…I mean, Monday ever come.

    • belllindsay

      @KevinVandever  @ginidietrich Every. Single. Day. Harumph. 😉

  • I was fired once. It was done publicly and was absolutely humiliating. AND the very best thing that could have happened to me. I didn’t see that at first but when I did, it was as if a lightbulb turned on. Now, in retrospect, I am grateful for having had the experience.

    • belllindsay

      @allenmireles Oh wow – publicly and with much humiliation – that’s HORRIBLE Allen! I’ll have to  get that story one day! 😉

  • Love this post and all the comments!  I agree that whether you leave a “bad” situation on your own or not, there’s often an exhilarating sense of relief!
    BTW – Couldn’t figure out the Zed thing until I saw @RebeccaTodd ‘s post… 🙂

    • belllindsay

      @lizreusswig  @RebeccaTodd Really?? Isn’t Zed one of the main things you Amurricans make fun of us Canucks about..?? LOL

  • Industry friends, when I left my last job they came out to be zero. I think it’s quite common though. 🙂
    Being fired these days is a big problem because there are no jobs around, in Italy but I guess all over the West. This forces people to be more creative in finding new or different ways to earn a living if the government doesn’t block any effort making things too complicated, like here.
    The one thing we must always keep engraved in our mind is that even if times are very hard there is always light out of the tunnel even if it seems there isn’t. At the end when the going gets tough the tough get going right? 🙂

    • belllindsay

      @Andrea T.H.W. Is it horrible that I think you are already steps ahead of the rest of us since you’re living the dolce vita…? Man, I love Italy. 😉 All kidding aside, I agree, jobs are scarce – but in today’s new wired world, opportunity is aplenty! Just requires some creative thinking, and *different* legwork than we’ve been used to.

      • @belllindsay Mmmmm, Dolce vita? Maybe once, but now not that much. Well, things will go better, they always do. 🙂
        Creativity these days is more needed than ever together with flexibility. Everything changes and we must act accordingly.
        Have a great weekend!

  • belllindsay

    RebeccaAmyTodd (or dumped) LMAO!! xox

  • belllindsay

    Frank_Strong Cheers Frank, appreciate your comments as well! 😀

  • belllindsay

    John_Trader1 Cheers John! SpinSucks

  • belllindsay

    DougH Cheers Doug! #what

  • SpinSucks

    John_Trader1 belllindsay I love her optomistic perspective…it’s refreshing. Thanks for sharing John!

  • MagnetCons

    Lindsay, in my humble (but professional) opinion, you are SPOT ON with this advice! Are you sure you’re not a people engagement consultant? 🙂  I would add under point 1- sometimes it’s not restructuring or politics.  sometimes it’s YOU (usually early career firings). and that pill can be hard to swallow, but I’ve seen people really self-examine and grow and have successful careers and then I’ve seen the smug/it can’t be me go and fail again.

    • belllindsay

      @MagnetCons HA! I always thought I should have been a therapist of some sort – I love “people engagement consultant”!! I absolutely agree with you on point one – most of us have healthy egos and it’s easy to blame outwards instead of inwards. You MUST accept that you did play a role, somehow, some way, and explore that aspect or you’ll carry on making the same mistake (or worse – never growing!). 😀

      • MagnetCons

        @belllindsay Exactly! And on “people engagement consultant”… it’s because I despise being associated with the term “HR” so we don’t use it here. 🙂

  • belllindsay

    isitacordero Thanks for the share Isabel!

    • isitacordero

      belllindsay 😉

  • belllindsay

    BethMcShane Hi Beth, thanks for the share! 🙂

    • BethMcShane

      belllindsay I loved that blog post… Anytime perceived negatives are turned positive, I’m a fan 🙂

      • belllindsay

        BethMcShane Had a bit of (koff) practice over the last 18 months. LOL If rough times don’t teach you something there’s something wrong. 🙂

        • BethMcShane

          belllindsay great attitude! Sunny side trumps clouds all day long!!

  • belllindsay

    theeventguys Thanks for the share! 🙂

  • And the comeback is ‘you can’t fire me; I fire you’…..and walk out with your head held high…:).

    • belllindsay

      @bdorman264 That’s like a bad breakup, right? LOL

  • maxnrgmike

    seanmcginnis My remark 2 boss who threatened my job (real smart) “That’s okay I was looking 4 a job when I took this one.”

  • maxnrgmike

    seanmcginnis One habit my father got me into, “No matter what you do son, remember you always work for yourself.”

  • francavilla

    shonali ginidietrich really awesome read!

  • I got laid off a few years ago. I knew over a year before it happened that it was going to happen. I don’t know why I knew, but I had a gut feeling based on some things that were happening in the company. It didn’t stop me being pretty upset at first. I had been back from maternity leave for less than 5 months, so it was really scary timing. But I was also excited. The company was in a downward spiral that continued after I was let go. They’ve since recovered (which makes me glad for my friends who are still there). 
    All I remember was feeling immense relief after that initial panic about what I was going to do. I knew I’d be fine and it truthfully was their loss. That lay off finally lit the fire I needed to do what I really wanted. I did all the things you describe here, without realizing until later how very good it was for me. Yay for getting fired!

    • @Karen_C_Wilson Wow Karen, I had an eerily similar experience, except that I was let go by a company destroyed by the people who bought it. I knew it too, because they were dismantling our culture, AND because our plant manager loved me and got drunk and told me at our annual sales conference 3 months before it happened.  I was still devastated. Big egos fall hard 🙂

      • @AmyMccTobin I feel like that should be a story line from a tv show or movie or something. So much drama! It’s sad to me when things go that direction. There is nothing more stressful for the employees who rely on that company to do well for their livelihood.

    • belllindsay

      @Karen_C_Wilson YAY for getting fired! I think we need t-shirts, don’t you!? LOL

      • @belllindsay Totally! Zazzle probably already has them, too. 😉

  • Getting fired in my early 20’s was one of the best things that ever happened to me; I realized I was a square peg in a round hole.   Getting laid off at 40 – not so grand.  But the strong ones rise smaller, right?  And there is a lot worse we can suffer through.

    • belllindsay

      @AmyMccTobin Amen Amy. 🙂

  • SpinSucks

    AmyMccTobin It’s a goodie!!

  • erikajbush

    This is a great article! My Mom got laid off about eight years ago in her 40’s and finally decided to pursue her dream as an interior decorating consultant. Now, she is doing what she loves EVERY day. It’s inspiring and this captures that feeling! Great article Lindsey!

    • belllindsay

      @erikajbush Great to hear that about your mom Erika – sometimes we just need that push – whether it’s expected or not! 😉

  • I’ve never been fired orr laid off, but I like your 5 points. I know I’ve frequently wondered what my “next career” would be if I wasn’t doing my current day job, but I’m enjoying the ride right now. I still idealize the possibility of being a high school teacher/coach, or simply coaching inner city kids for different sports, or writing a book, etc.
    But I sure like having the money to pay that mortgage each month…and pending college expenses for two daughters. I appreciate that I’ve spent the last couple of years making some great industry friends, and I especially agree with you – you find out who your true friends are when you are out of work!

  • Pingback: You're Fired! How an Agency Survives a New CMO by @michaelsantoro()

  • JeremyVanBrunt

    I feel close to walking out of my job on a daily basis.  I don’t really like it but the money is good as are the benefits but still I felt the same amount of happiness making less money and I was far less stressed and not constantly worrying about losing my job and if I do what could I possibly do.  I got a job I feel way over qualified for and my work history before that isn’t great.  I mean I was with my last company for 5 years but it’s the type of job that really only translates into jobs exactly like that one.  I just hate the stress.  On the flip side, I do have some money saved up to where I could live off that for a year and be fine not working.  My fear is though I would waste the year and the money and then I’m really screwed. Ugh.  But still, part of me wants me to get fired so I can go after what I really want to do.  I stay here because it’s convenient but it doesn’t make me happy.  Then of course the negativity creeps in and I start thinking to myself that what if I get fired, go after what I really want but fail to get it.  Then where am I in life?  Unhappy working a job I can barely stomach just to barely scrape by every month?  Sometimes it seems hopeless.  Other times I feel inspired.  I’m a mess of emotions.

  • JeremyVanBrunt Hey Jeremy, thanks so much for this comment. I appreciate your honesty. One thing I learned while being in a soul sucking job for far too long is that, well, it sucks the soul out of you. 😉  Eventually, you do give up. You don’t perform to the best of your abilities. And then you feel bad about yourself, for being such a loser (speaking for myself only, here). I left a 20 year career in TV – pension, benefits, seniority, the lot – because of all of the above, and everything you’ve mentioned. I figured out where I really wanted to be, and which of my skills as a TV producer were ‘transferrable’, and spent a year learning and building up a profile in the areas where I wanted to work. It wasn’t easy. And it was definitely stressful. But I’m a FAR happier person today because I took that great leap into the unknown. Just wanted to share my story – everyone’s different – but life is TOO short to stay in a job that makes you unhappy. Hope you enjoy the weekend! Cheers, Lindsay

  • Great post, Lindsay! I was let go in September of this year and, to be perfectly honest, I never once worried about my next job.

    I looked at it as a unique opportunity to do something different or take a chance. Granted, I took a full time job because the opportunity presented itself and I need money for things like food, but it opened up some thoughts and dreams in me that I’m going to pursue in 2018.

  • Debbie Johnson

    I have been let go once in my career, and it was on a Monday. Actually, first thing that morning.

    Looking back on that experience, the signs were there. I just chose to ignore them. My organization did a big restructure. My boss left to start her own consulting firm, and the org was her first client. Two months after the restructure, four employees were let go. I was one.

    I learned a lot of lessons, first and foremost, trust your gut. Pay attention to the signs and trust your gut.

    I always keep an updated resume, so I was able to start applying for jobs that day.

    The organization treated me well. This was in October, and they paid me through the end of the year. They also let me keep my health insurance until I found a new job.

    My new boss, the one who ended up firing me, was very blunt and to the point when she did it. A week later, she sent me a card with a long apology letter. I didn’t know this at the time, but this was the first time she had ever had to let anyone go, and she was devastated.