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Layoff to Blastoff

Updated on January 19, 2011

View a Layoff As An Opportunity

If you’re breathing, you’ve probably been affected one way or another by the downturn in the economy, especially by layoffs. Whether you’ve been laid off yourself, a friend or spouse has been laid off, you’re afraid of being laid off, or you’re the one left to pick up the pieces (and the work) after someone else has been laid off, you’ve likely been affected in some way.

For most people, being laid off is a highly emotional and traumatic event. I still remember the first time it happened to me several years ago. I had been raised by parents who lived in the generation when you could still expect to work for one company for most of your life and retire with a pension and a gold watch. I thought that if I did a good job, didn’t cause problems, and in general, followed the rules, I could expect that too.

It was such a shock when I was told I was being laid off. Even though the company had been having layoffs once a year for the four years I had worked there, with each passing year I grew more confident I would have my job long-term. After all, I had gotten good performance reviews, I got along with everyone in my department and customers liked me. But, I was also the most recent one hired.

I still remember the drive home, being in shock, and not really seeing the road. Close to home, I started crying. Happy there would be no one there to see me in that condition, I let the tears flow. All kinds of questions ran through my mind:

  • What should I do next?
  • Will I have to sell the house?
  • Will I be able to find a job?
  • What will I do for money?

The hardest part for me was the next morning when I woke up. The realization hit me that I had nowhere to go. No one expected me to be anywhere or do anything. No structure. It was horrifying.

Even though I’ve lost other jobs since for various reasons such as the company moving to another state, the loss of the first one was the hardest. I’ve learned from all of them.

The economy is making the recovery from job loss this time around particularly challenging. I remember my mother and grandmother talking about the Depression. They used to say that during that time “you couldn’t buy a job.” For many, it feels that way now. Tired of banging their heads against closed doors, many have become desperate and fearful.

There are many resources available for the recently laid off - help with resumes, job boards, unemployment compensation, job retraining, networking groups. The information is easy to find, and I’m sure many Hubbers have excellent resources as well. That’s the practical side of the issue. But there’s an emotional side as well. One that I feel needs to be addressed so that a person can move on in joy and passion.

You see, I look at a layoff in a different light, based on my experience and hindsight, which is often 20-20. I view a layoff (or any type of job disruption) as an opportunity to step back and take stock. A layoff really is a wonderful gift. You may laugh at me. You may call me names. But I’ve discovered it’s true. I’ve heard so many stories of people who found new careers, ones they would never have even thought of prior to a layoff, that provided fulfillment and joy that their old job never would have. I’ve experienced that as well.

In this hub, I’d like to look at many aspects and emotions of getting laid off, and offer some encouragement, information based on my own and others’ experiences, community and empathy to those who are struggling with this right now.

A layoff is an opportunity you’re not given very often. (Thank goodness, I hear you saying.) In fact, with the right mindset, courage and determination, you might find it was the best thing that ever happened to you.


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    • Steefen profile image

      Steefen 7 years ago

      Layoffs threaten the nuclear family unit.

      Layoffs are expensive.

      I for one have used my retirement savings for living expenses and for servicing my debt so my layoff won't affect my credit score adversely.

      Layoffs can push a person out of the city where the job was. I was in NYC. Now I'm in Plano, TX.

      Layoffs are not just for self-reflection but for reflecting on how society is structured. I remember my sociology classes at NYU and how we learned that we create society. I think we should reflect on the work world 1) increasing our work week from a 35-hour one to a 40-hour one and 2) increasing the cost of higher education for single digit employment tenures. Employees have given much productivity to the work world over the past 20 years, but the work world has taken care of us better for it.