If you’re someone who takes a great deal of pride in their work like I am, you probably never expect to hear your employer tell you that you’ve been fired.
Many moons ago, those words were uttered in my direction, and I was blindsided by the news. While I was completely unhappy with some things about my position, I was still dominating my job – exceeding expectations on a weekly basis, generating endless rave reviews from clients, continually becoming better at what I was doing.
While I hated my company, I loved my job — if that makes sense. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to separate the two. In my case, I was forced to make that separation. While it was scary for a few hours — no exaggeration there, I got fired on Friday and was phased for about three hours on Saturday morning — it ended up being the best thing that ever happened in my professional life.
Here are five lessons I learned from that experience:
1. Work Doesn’t Have to Be Miserable
If you’ve ever worked in a mundane environment, you know the routine: You arrive to work, head to your desk, sit down and keep your head down. This particular employer seemed to thrive on creating the most depressing work environment of all time, somehow making it possible to create a situation where you like the work you’re doing and you like your coworkers, yet your job depresses the heck out of you.
If this sounds all too familiar, getting fired immediately releases you from that sort of indentured servitude. Once I stepped out of the office and realized I would never be returning, life seemed to get a whole lot better. And now I do what I love with none of that depression surrounding me.
2. Some Jobs Don’t Deserve You
Before getting fired, I consistently exceeded all of my job expectations. Week in and week out, I would overproduce — that’s just the way I work. But because I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid, so to speak, my bosses thought I was expendable. At the time, I remained friends with some of my colleagues after I got 86’d. So firsthand confirmation tells me chaos erupted for a bit after I was let go.
What’s the point in working for people who don’t appreciate your efforts?
3. Having Contingency Plans in Place Is Awesome
As a creative professional, I’m always looking to take on more work. When I was fired, I already had a handful of freelance jobs in place. This, plus unemployment, gave me the peace of mind that comes along with knowing you don’t have to worry about paying rent or feeding yourself.
Few jobs are truly secure, particularly in today’s challenging job market. When you have some escape routes in place, you’re able to handle getting axed a lot easier.
4. The Corporate World Might Not Be for Everyone
As the workforce becomes younger and mobile technology empowers remote workers, some corporations are becoming “cooler” — understanding the importance of work-life balance. Still, others — like the company that canned me — are stuck in 1950: You have to be in the office every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., no exceptions.
If you don’t really jive with that kind of philosophy — and I didn’t at all — it’s okay. Just like there are folks who work landscaping jobs and bartenders and artists, not everyone needs to be part of the corporate world. So maybe it’s time to consider becoming fully self-employed? Better yet, become the CEO of your own business. That way, you can sculpt your organization’s culture yourself, taking the right steps to make sure it isn’t absolutely awful.
5. Sometimes, It’s Okay to Leave on Your Own
The reason why getting fired was the best thing that happened to me is quite simple: If I hadn’t been, I’d probably still be working there or at least would have for a considerable amount of time afterward.
If you’re unhappy with your job, you don’t necessarily have to wait until getting your next one before leaving. Don’t neglect your happiness for a paycheck, unless you have no other choice. It’s just not worth it.
If you’ve just been fired, try your best not to sweat it. I promise you will land another job that makes you happier. Who knows? You might even decide to build your own company from the ground up.