You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them
In July last year, when most of my peers were busy looking for jobs, I had already started working with one of the leading brand names of the Legal Publishing Industry as a ‘Legal Research Editor’ in Gurgaon. My job was perfect in every sense; great work culture, supportive co-workers, awesome boss, competitive package, swanky office in one of Gurgaon’s most happening job locations, and the icing on the cake, for a voracious reader like me, was definitely the ‘Crossword’ store just below my office. I was loving every bit of professional life and the work challenges that came with it.
Fast forward to 6 months later, all these perfections just evaporated, when one fine day my boss called me in to inform me that our department was being scrapped and so were all the department employees’ jobs, including mine. I sat there, clueless and trying to process what had just happened. I was so shocked by the news that I didn’t even feel any emotion. I was trying to think of the good things that the universe has in store for me, as I have always believed that ‘whatever happens, happens for good’. So, when my boss asked me what’s next, I gave him my best smile and said, “Something better. Something extraordinary”.
In the next few weeks, when I didn’t have to wake up early to go to work, when I could lay in bed and read as much as I wanted to, when there were no deadlines to meet, no meetings to attend, the reality of losing my job finally sank in. That’s when I started analyzing what I had gained from this experience so early in my career :
1. Work-Life balance is important
At work, two of my most favorite colleagues were working here in Gurgaon, away from their partners and children who resided in their respective hometowns. Both of them slogged it out at work, and work was their first priority. So when they were laid off, I couldn’t help but think what it all had been really been for. No matter how much you’re earning, how important your role is in your organization, it can never be more important than family. A work life balance is a must, because at the time of need, only family matters.
Sincerely doing one’s work is important, but so is taking a break once in a while to rejuvenate yourself is. Don’t sacrifice quality family time for something from which you’re going to retire in 20-30 years.
So, I learnt to invest my time wisely.
2. Figure out your true identity
After losing my job, whenever I met new people, I was often asked the question “What do you do?” Every time, I found myself tongue tied. This question seemed to question my entire existence.
Earlier I was proud to be associated with a brand. It gave me a feeling of purpose. Now, just because I wasn’t associated with something big and famous, I felt worthless. That’s when I realized that our identities are not our own, but that of the organization we work for, and once that tag is snatched away from us, we suffer from an identity crisis.
But in reality, apart from bring a valuable employee, you are son/daughter, brother/sister, friend, well wisher, and mentor too. You take care of hundreds of other non-professional responsibilities too. So, a layoff is a perfect time to recreate your own identity, which nobody can snatch from you.
Thus, I learnt not to let the organization I work for overshadow my identity.
3. Time to do the things we always wanted to
Don’t spend time asking yourself why this happened to you, or fretting about what you’re going to do next. Sooner or later, you will land a new job.
Instead of feeling bad for yourself, use this time to do things that you’ve always wanted to do. Take that dream vacation, learn the things you wanted to learn, start that strict fitness regime, try relocating to a place you love, enroll for an MBA, etc.
I made the most of my free time by reading lots of books, on diverse topics. Today, after reading 20 books back then, I feel more well read than I was ever before. I started blogging, freelancing and volunteering. I learnt about new advancements and opportunities in my areas of interest
4. Use your severance wisely
One major factor that helped me take things in my stride is the ‘windfall gain’. On letting go of employees, an organization always pays a severance package to give employees a financial cushion for 5-6 months. It includes, advanced monthly salary and all other accumulated benefits.
This windfall gain takes care of all your financial needs till you get back on your feet again. You can also treat it as an enormous boost to your savings, or an all sponsored trip to your dream destinations, or a way to get rid of your debts.
For me it was a sign of good bank balance so early in my career and it gave me immense confidence and pride.
5. Break free from stagnation.
Career choice is a very difficult decision. Most times, we see people who dream of doing something they love but end up doing something else, which gives them neither the financial nor the mental satisfaction. We see people wishing that they had followed their hearts. If you’re one of them, now is a good time to do that.
Many people who are laid off, take this time to genuinely figure out what it is they want from life, and when they find their true calling and pursue it, they do extraordinarily well.
I took this time to break the stagnation of my career and take a leap of faith to take something up which I like, and I’m so much happier now.
A layoff is not a sign of failure. If it happens to you, you will be affected. It’s not in your hands, it’s not your fault. But, you can definitely make the most if it to pave the path ahead.
This story is a real incident captured as part of the #Fired2FiredUp Campaign by YourDOST. Visit the page for more such stories and tips from career psychologists and recruiters.
Have you experienced a layoff recently? Are you finding it difficult to cope with it? Talk to an Expert at YourDOST.