AMY LINDGREN: Staying Positive about Losing Your Job

Is it ever appropriate to high-five someone who tells you they’ve just been fired? I don’t know, but I’ll admit to doing it more than once. Some leave-takings just need to be heralded. Not that the celebration should take place on the spot. Flashy resignations, for example, are decidedly tacky in my book.

But a quiet smile and a discreet fist-bump after being relieved of your post? Sometimes that’s just the right way to signal your willingness to move forward. If you’re having trouble visualizing doing the happy dance with your next pink slip, there are ways to look on the bright side for different job exits.

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(And how do I know they work? Let’s just say that I’ve been to each of these particular rodeos myself, and I can tell you: There’s always a silver lining in the job-loss clouds.)

GETTING FIRED

We might as well start with the big downer first. Next time you hear a boss say, “Yer outta here!” try telling yourself. . .

. . . Hey look – I’ve got the rest of the day free!

. . . So, I don’t have to do the performance improvement plan, right?

. . . Actually, it’s a relief not to be part of that drama anymore.

. . . I was having trouble making the decision to go, so this is good.

. . . Now I can work on my novel without all the interruptions.

. . . Seriously, that was a favor. I know I can find a better fit.

BEING LAID-OFF

This may feel the same as getting fired, but in most cases, the layoff differs in that it’s the elimination of the job, not the person. If you happen to be the person holding the job when it’s eliminated, you can cheer yourself up by saying…

. . . It’s nice not to worry about getting laid off anymore.

. . . Looks like I can still have coffee with my co-workers since they were cut too.

. . . The severance package helps. Really, it does.

. . . This is my chance to try the unemployment system.

. . . And what’s this I hear about a state dislocated worker program to help with retraining?

. . . So, this is a pretty nice cardboard box they gave me for my things.

ENDING A CONTRACT

If you were hired as a temporary worker, contractor, consultant, interim, or any other version of someone who knew their days would be numbered, you probably were not caught by surprise when the gig ended. Nevertheless, it can still sting to walk out the door for the last time from work you may have been enjoying. If that happens to you, lift your spirits by telling yourself…

. . . It’s nice to have something start and end the way it was planned.

. . . One more gig successfully completed – where should I put it on my resume?

. . . Another 10 co-workers I can connect to on LinkedIn.

. . . Yowzer. Good thing that one was only temporary.

. . . Next time I’m asking for a desk away from the bathroom.

. . . I’m ready for another contract or job. Bring it on!

RESIGNING FROM A JOB

You’ve probably done this before, so you already know the process includes a range of emotional responses. Even when you’re starting a new job, or racing off with your sanity barely intact, it’s normal to feel disappointed or wistful about missed opportunities in the job you’re leaving. Stay encouraged by telling yourself…

. . . Making hard decisions builds character. This is good for me.

. . . Everything has to end sometime.

. . . Leaving creates space for something else in my life.

. . . Hah! Take that! I’m going on my own terms!

. . . Why didn’t I do this sooner?

. . . It’s the people I’ll miss more than the job; luckily, it’s easy to stay in touch these days.

However you leave your next job, take a moment to consider: Is there something you should negotiate or ask for on the way out the door? This could include anything from severance to letters of recommendation to permission to use materials you created for your work. Of course, if there are harsh feelings involved, you might be pushing your luck. But then, if that’s the case, you probably don’t have anything to lose by asking.

The other question to ask yourself upon leaving is who should be thanked before you go. If you’re being fired or laid off, that might be a difficult question to pose, much less answer. Even so, take a quick inventory of those who have helped you in this job, or who have given you opportunities to succeed. A brief thank-you on the way out, or a short note in a few days is all that’s needed to keep the karma balanced.

Ready? It’s time to click your heels three times and fly away home. Tomorrow is another day, and a fresh start awaits you.

Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at alindgren@prototypecareerservice.com or at 626 Armstrong Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102.

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