When I received a layoff notice five years ago this week, it was an unwelcome surprise.
I was minding my own business, deep in thought at work when I got the knock at my door.
I was told, “I need you for a meeting.”
Even though I was caught off guard, I knew instantly something bad was about to go down.
It was something in my manager’s voice.
My heart stopped.
I felt a pit in my stomach.
My face felt flushed.
I asked, “I’m getting laid off, right?”
Corporate protocol prevented my manager from replying.
Then I wondered out loud and asked, “Who’s going to be at this meeting?”
He replied, “HR, union reps.”
Nothing else needed to be said.
At the time, the whole layoff thing felt:
And my life felt a bit out-of-control.
I mean, shit, I’d been there 19 years almost to the day.
In fact, my actual layoff took place in the exact same room in which my initial job interview took place almost two decades prior. Some random meeting room at the other side of the building. (Click here and here for more about this.)
Funny how it all came full circle.
As I returned to my office after the meeting, I could see another meeting down the hall had ended.
My colleagues had horrible looks on their faces as they left the meeting room.
They had just been told about the three of us who were being laid off at the same time as we were in our individual meetings actually being laid off.
I felt the need to get the hell outta there asap.
Which I did.
Fortunately, a insightful colleague suggested I come back and pack up my office on the weekend, so I wouldn’t have to take the “walk of shame.”
Turned out to be an amazing idea.
Looking back on the whole thing now, four years later, I can see a few things extremely clearly, with 20/20 vision.
Getting laid off was the best surprise ever.
It didn’t feel like it when it happened.
It didn’t feel like it for the first few months after it happened.
Nevertheless, I believe that it was.
1) My layoff forced my hand and essentially made the choice for me to leave my long-term job. I see now that my layoff was a beautiful gift given to me at a surprise party. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling the love from a few people “at my party.” This was made clear by the expressions on their faces. However, I think of it as a gift because I was too stuck to leave my job. In fact, I was too fearful and confused about what to do for five long years. I love thinking about it this way now. It makes me feel so grateful.
2) Being faced with unemployment gave me the courage to work for myself. I had fantasized being self-employed for most of my career and had dabbled in a couple of extremely small business ventures. When you’re not focused and working hard to make something successful, it rarely becomes successful. Without a job, I had no more “good” excuses and dove right in.
3) Not having a job gave me the time I needed to decide what I wanted to do. I did a lot of research myself, and then I attended a career course for a week. It confirmed the direction I was pretty certain about, which was to become a Certified Life Coach.
4) My education severance pay went towards the tuition costs of the training for my new career. How great was that? In fact, my check was the exact same amount as my tuition!
5) My layoff gave me the time I needed to train for my new career while collecting severance pay from my layoff package. Another unexpected bonus!
6) I became informed about my pension. Because I wasn’t even 50 yet when I lost my job, I hadn’t paid much attention to my pension yet. After my layoff, I needed to make some quick decisions and become informed; I was delighted with what I discovered!
7) My education from undergrad and grad school was completely relevant to this new direction. I didn’t anticipate how much in sync everything was. You see, I studied qualitative methodology and in particular, ethnographic research techniques as part of my MA in Applied Social Psychology. When coaching, laser focused listening skills, attention to the exact language used and the ability to look for patterns and inconsistencies in what is being said is crucial. When I went to school way back in the 80s, I hadn’t even heard of coaching.
My new career as as a Master Certified Life Coach specializing in midlife has been a dream come true.
Funny, the gift of my layoff created the impetus for me to come full circle too.
Click here to read more about the lessons I learned from my layoff.
Need help learning how to think of your layoff as a gift?
It can start out feeling really rough…but it doesn’t have to continue being a negative experience. It all starts with your thinking. I’m here to help you turn things around and get excited about your life again.
Click here to join my FREE Facebook Group, Women in the Middle Podcast Community: Regret-Proofing 101 where you’ll find a warm community of women who are also ready to make a change.