If you’ve ever been laid off—and this is coming from someone who has—then no matter what generic work-related reason you’re given, you take it personally on some level. You wonder if being just a little better, a little more enthusiastic, or a little more anything would have made you or your job worth saving.
But, in order to survive and even thrive in the wake of a professional trauma such as this, you need to, in the words of that song that remains stuck in my head, let it go.
I referred to being laid off as a trauma, because it can definitely feel that way. It is a blow to your ego and can crush your confidence. And while you do need to take a beat to process what happened and figure out your next steps, you also have to resist the urge to let it define you or what you think you’re capable of achieving. Easier said than done, yes—but crucial if you’re going to rise like the phoenix that you are from the fire.
Read on for a few mantras that can be helpful when going through this time. You may have heard them before, but so have I—and they’ve helped me time and time again.
1. It’s Not You, it’s Them
You need to appreciate the fact that we’re still (yes, still) recovering from a national economy that went to crap. Although many companies are back to making profits and even growing, there are many others that continue to tweak how they operate in order to keep the doors open. And by tweak, I mean making cuts wherever they can in order to run lean and mean. I have learned that despite the quality of your work, unless your role is absolutely key to the survival of the company, you’re at risk. And if this is the case, there’s often nothing you can do to avoid the inevitable. Remind yourself of this.
2. You’re Not Alone
Something I found helpful when I experienced my first (yes, you read that right: first of multiple) layoff was realizing that this hasn’t happened to only me. Plenty of capable and intelligent professionals have been laid off—even fired. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple. Mark Cuban lost his job as a computer salesman. J.K. Rowling was let go as a secretary for writing stories on her work computer.
My guess is that you know those names and know that they went on to become quite successful. Keep them in mind and remember: So can you.
3. It’s an Opportunity
Another helpful way to view being laid off is trying to see it as an unexpected opportunity and take advantage of it. Have you ever considered switching careers, going back to school, or starting your own business? Now is the perfect time to seriously evaluate those options and see if they are worth pursuing. I’m not saying the transition will be easy, especially if you find yourself in a tight spot financially, but use the break from the monotony of your former daily grind as a welcome occasion to give thought to exactly where you want to go next and how to get there.
There is no denying it: Being laid off sucks. I get it. I’ve been there. But I also know that you can and will move on. Hiring managers who understand the world we live in also understand that a layoff doesn’t have to be an ugly stain on your resume. And, hey: You’ll have had the time to actually polish up said resume and target it to get a job you’re truly passionate about, or grab a (cheap) coffee with valuable connections who can help you launch your startup.
All it takes is a little mindful altering of your thinking to brush off those ashes and fly.