The fact is, people get fired everyday. Unfortunately, it usually comes as a huge surprise. Having been on both ends of that gut-wrenching scenario, I’ve come to believe that generally “people fire themselves.” I know that may sound harsh, but it was definitely the case when I got sacked from a job thirty years ago.
Yes, there are definitely instances when the termination isn’t an employee’s fault. It could have been the result of mass layoffs, or their specific position simply got eliminated, and yes the “the boss really did have it in for that person” is a distinct possibility.
If you should happen to find yourself being let go, regardless of the reason…here are the 3 things I believe you should do immediately.
#1 Breathe And Be Thankful
I know that’s probably not what you expected to hear, and it may cause you to think I’m crazy, but “breathing” is where you should begin. The reason is simple—although it may not feel like it right after being fired, you’re still alive and it’s not the “end of the world.” Believe me, I’ve been there.
Now, here comes the most difficult part. After you’ve caught your breath, shook hands and said your goodbyes, (professionally of course) go home and immediately write a professional letter or email “thanking” your company or organization for the opportunity to work for them.
“NO WAY” you say, think about how often college and professional coaches get let go, and almost every time they address the press and offer their gratitude for the opportunity…even if the whole world thinks they got the shaft. So, write the letter and be thankful that you probably don’t have to face the media.
That exercise can also help put things in perspective. Think about how many unemployed people probably wish they had a job to lose. It’s definitely a “mind-shift” to be thankful in such a crappy situation, and it can be a tough one to acquire.
The thing is, there’s a good chance you weren’t going to be there forever anyway, and if it got to the point that you were fired, then candidly it may be you were no longer giving it your best. There could be other reasons, but most of the time when we search for the truth, we find it in ourselves. Which takes me to the next thing you should do.
#2 Be Honest With Yourself
Now’s the time to take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself the tough questions. Sometimes, we get fired because we’ve gotten in the habit of lying to ourselves. So, if getting canned didn’t wake you up and get you out of that “funk,” maybe you need to reach out to a mentor or a professional coach for help.
It’s important to reflect on your past, and then take inventory of your attitude, skill set, and marketability. If you’ve developed bad habits, or are lacking knowledge that may be critical to your success, an outside set of eyes may see what you’re missing. I don’t think you want to end up in the same situation down the road, so get someone involved who’ll be vested in your success.
#3 Don’t Make A Bad Situation Worse
Getting fired can be debilitating. It’s common for people to run through the entire gambit of negative emotions, and unfortunately during this difficult time, some reach for substances or unhealthy experiences as an escape.
Sure, drinking until you’re numb may allow you to ignore the situation temporarily, but I’d argue it’s not a good solution. It’s pretty simple… in life, you never want to compound one mistake with another.
Rather than spiraling out of control, why not focus on making good decisions and spend your “new found time off” positively investing in those you care about, as well as yourself. It’s a great opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.
In order to help you get back on track after being fired, “do” the three things listed above.
In addition, understand that you may also be asked to sign a resignation letter or decide between severance packages and you should consider other action items like seeking legal counsel, filing for unemployment, or scheduling medical appointments while you’re still covered.
It should go without saying that I hope you never get fired… but if it does happen, I hope you’ll begin your journey to being employed again by “doing” the three things above.
In 2010 Duane Cummings founded The Sensational Group, the parent company for Sensational Literature LLC and a host of other companies and partnerships. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer at Leadercast and previously he was the Chief Operating Officer of EFS and the General Manager of the Oklahoma City Slickers professional soccer team. Follow Duane on Twitter and LinkedIn.