Completing with Class

It has been both a very long and a surprisingly short 60 days since I first learned that I was getting laid off from my day job. As I embark on my last day tomorrow, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to complete what you started and do it with class.

When I first got the news I was surprised, a little upset, but overall confident that what was happening and the timing of it was for a reason. I have been yearning to get my business out of part-time mode and into full swing and the time is ripe right now. I’ve never been someone whose identity is wrapped up in their job, so I didn’t have any of those “if I’m not a than who am I?” pangs of crisis that some people experience when they are let go. However, trudging to a job everyday, even when I didn’t particularly like a given job has been part of my life for a long, long time.

Immediately upon learning my position was eliminated I committed myself to doing what I need to do to look back on this event in the future and know that this was the best thing that ever happened to me. I decided I would be the kind of person who navigates the final days of a job with grace and class. It hasn’t always been easy but based on all the feedback I keep getting from colleagues, I have handled myself in just this way. Here’s what I learned about how to handle an unexpected job loss in a way that would make your parents proud.

–Don’t take it personally. Layoffs and job eliminations aren’t personal; they are just a course of business.

–See the person, not the corporation/institution in every person you deal with. Even if the person you have to deal with (Human Resources, bosses, co-workers, other company representatives, etc.) is not the way you’d like them to be (caring, empathetic, etc.) they are just a real human being doing their job. Don’t take your frustrations out on them and don’t burn your precious energy on resentments or blame (it’s bad for everyone and sucks you into a negative spiral of attracting what you DON’T want).

–Take care of yourself. Once the tribe has spoken and voted you off the island (so to speak), you need to make yourself priority #1.

–Fulfill your obligations and transition work to the best of your ability. Now is not the time to go crazy proactive (after all, your needs are priority #1 remember) but show professionalism in all that you do.

–Don’t burn any bridges. You may feel the freedom to want to say or do something to let your long-term frustrations out, but curb your inner lunatic. This is not the time to sing “take this job and shove it” as you waltz down the hall. Even if you feel that way, anything you say or do remains a reflection on you. With six degrees of separation (or less) in this world you never know with or for whom you may work again in the future.

–Practice extreme self-care. Losing a job is within the top 10 most stressful life events. It is right up there with death of a loved one and major illness. Do what you need to do to get the support and self-care you need.

–Keep things in perspective. Sure loss of income is a big deal. Depending on your life circumstances, it can be better or worse than someone else. However, if you’re reading this blog, I know you are a capable and strong person with a penchant for learning. You can and will create something new (and very likely better) in the future.

–Start planning for the future. Get the details of your financial picture in order. Begin strategic and tactical planning for the “what’s next” in your life. Focus on what you DO want.

–Be grateful. Make a list of all the gifts you received from your current job while you had it. What did you learn? What opportunities did it open for you? Who did you meet and connect with while you were there? What life experiences did the income from the job afford you?

For me tomorrow brings to an end one big chapter of my professional life. I am proud and grateful to know that I can walk away with no unfinished business and no regrets. I am also glad to know that I have earned the respect of many people including some with whom I initially experienced turbulent relationships. Now that is something to be thankful for.

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