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Tips for moving on from a bad work experience.

Updated on February 17, 2012

The Challenge Of Letting Go

The inspiration for writing my first hub last week on surviving job loss was the fact that the job I was let go from was one that, on the surface I rather enjoyed, but in the long run that job was killing me, both mentally and physically. Slowly but surely I am making a concerted effort to move on with my life and find meaningful work that truly inspires me as an individual, but every now and again I get caught up in an emotional rut where I have regrets about suddenly leaving my customers behind or I feel as though I have disappointed so many of the people I care about in my life. In my never ending quest to help others, here are some things I have found helpful in moving on from the negative experiences at my now former job.

It's Not Your Fault If Your Manager Had It Out For You Anyway

Generally I would like to believe that, overall, people are honest, caring, and decent to others. That's when life tends to kick you in the butt and you realize that the level of expectation does not equal the level of reality. I actually learned the whole "level of expectation versus level of reality" concept about seven years ago while taking a training course in anticipation of going in to car sales (for the record, I didn't make it far in car sales). The general premise here is that the level of reality should always be higher than the level of expectation, or, in salesperson speak, what you end up getting should always meet or exceed your expectations.

My general expectation is that managers should set a positive tone and example for the workplace, however at my previous job I found that some managers would often say one think to make it sound like they cared on the surface but in reality those managers were only looking out for themselves and didn't really care what happened to their subordinates. Some people in management positions will even go so far as to spy on their employees daily activities and completely undermine any employee who poses a threat to the manager in question (don't get me started on why doing so is just bad business). Often these managers are just insecure in their own abilities and may even be on thin ice with their higher ups as well for who knows what.

My manager was one of those managers. I've had some fantastic managers over the years but that person wasn't one of them. I can't go into details about what happened where I worked, but what I can say is the manager basically got some bee in her bonnet about me and decided to terminate my employment. There were several outstanding problems I was in the process of fixing (problems that began well in advance of coming to this department) before my untimely departure, and now that I'm gone who knows if the problems will ever be resolved. My guess is she was content letting the problems persist, despite customer complaints, which is why I just keep telling myself the following phrase:

It's not my problem anymore. It's the manager's problem now.

Or, if you're a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie like I am you can just say,

This is their dishwater so they can soak in it.

And if you haven't seen MST3K: The Movie and you love parodies then I highly recommend getting a copy of the movie as a pick me up. It's OK to just keep repeating those phrases to yourself whenever you feel depressed about what happened. The company will move on (or maybe not in some cases) and so should you right now. Yes, we should all take responsibility for our own actions, but if you have a manager who won't appropriately let you take responsibility then you really do need to get the heck out of Dodge anyway.

Establish A No Garbage Truck Rule in Your Life

Now you're probably thinking I'm a bit nuts right now and you're asking yourself what garbage trucks have to do with losing a bad job. Believe it or not there is actually a book out there called, you guessed it, The Law of the Garbage Truck: How to Respond to People Who Dump on You and how to Stop Dumping on Others. I recommend this book to anybody who is in a rut and if you get nothing more out of this book, please at least take the No Garbage Truck pledge (there are handy business cards at the end of the book and I've even gone so far as to stick one on the back of my cell phone). What I love about this book are the number of writing prompts available at the end of each chapter as each writing prompt really helps you think about and get a better grasp of the material covered. Don't worry, I won't bore you any further with a full on book review here, I just want you to get your own copy because the book is just great to begin with.

Vent To A Trusted Friend

Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give when it comes to moving on is not to hold on to your emotions about a situation. If you have a good friend, a spouse, or even a therapist that you can talk with in confidence then it's perfectly fine to have a conversation about your bad experience at work to just get the feelings out of your system. Granted you won't want to vent in a public place as you never know who's there or what they will hear, but if you're at home with your loved one or behind closed doors at your therapist's office then there is absolutely nothing wrong with talking things out. The person you are talking with may have interesting insights into what you tell them, or they may even join in a rant fest about your bad boss right with you, either way if you are going to vent, do it behind closed doors where nobody can listen in on your conversation.

Disengage Gracefully

What's done is done and there really is no going back when you separate from a bad work situation. Nothing is going to change what happened and often times when you separate from your employer it's for the better anyway. Granted, I will be the first person to tell you that disengaging isn't easy and it won't happen overnight. I keep wondering if my now former customers are taken care of and I keep wondering what is going on behind closed doors at my now former employer. Then again, it also took me several years to get over my last bad relationship so I know that the road to getting beyond what happened will be rough, but as long as we keep thinking toward the future the past will quickly take its place in our distant memory.


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