What to Do After You Get Fired: A Guide


A few of you noticed in a recent post how I nonchalantly slipped in the small fact that I am currently jobless. 

No, you did not miss the memo. There was no memo, because I wasn't talking about it. I have since decided, however, that talking about it isn't such a bad thing, so here goes. 

Two Monday's ago, I had the unfortunate experience of being forced into early retirement. That's what I've been calling it to make it sound better, but it goes by many names, all equally depressing: let go, fired, laid off. 

Personally, I'm voting for the phrase "forced into early retirement." It makes me sound like I'm spending my free time traveling around the globe as opposed to what I am actually doing: riding the wave of stress while searching for a job and occasionally letting out random wails of "I am a huge failure" and "I am going to live in a box on the street!" to Jennifer Garner's face on the TV screen from where I've just watched 31 episodes of Alias.

For the visual folk, the above picture is a symbol of what has now happened. 
I have become the dead leaf on a dead twig that's lying in a dead sidewalk of an apartment complex. (Important note: it's not even on a neighborhood street of a house. It's an apartment.)

Now, at this point you might be starting to feel sorry for me, so let me just stop and say that you shouldn't feel sorry for me. I mean, I guess if you do feel sorry for me I can't stop you. And I wouldn't refuse offers of money. Ahem.

But seriously, instead of bemoaning my recent push into unemployment, I wanted to take a moment and share some wisdom. You see, the Forced Into Early Retirement Club (FIER, as I like to say [pronounced like FEAR because, well, it's awesome]), is exclusive. Not everyone gets to be in it, and you certainly can't ask to be in it. BUT should you ever find yourself in this situation, I want to share with you what I have learned. Unsolicited wisdom from me, who is now wise in the way of firings, to you, who might at some point find yourself in a similar unfortunate situation. 

These are the steps of forced early retirement that will be there to help you in the long, lonely days ahead. 

1. Conserve

Let's be honest. You've just been fired, so the best thing you can do for yourself is conserve your now limited resources. Start by turning off all the lights and pulling out your stash of candles. 

Candles are romantic anyway, and you don't really need light. Laura Ingalls Wilder managed just fine without it, and if she can do it, you can too. Complete darkness will be better for you anyway, because you won't want to face anyone after crying for days over your failed career. You probably will also want to forego showering, which is not romantic at all but necessary in the name of conservation. 

While you're at it, you definitely should stop doing laundry. Let's be honest: it's not like you have anywhere to go.

And if after a few days you find that you really need light, pull out your black mask, steal a bike, and set up a windmill-type operation in your living room to power your electronics and electricity. You're conserving while getting in shape. Brilliant. This won't help the showering thing, though, unfortunately. 

2. Embrace the Silver Lining

After turning off the lights, there's nothing like utter darkness to assist with you rapidly falling into a pit of depression. Don't do this. Instead, remember that the second step to handle being forced into early retirement is to embrace the silver lining, which is the following:

Professionally speaking, you have hit a non-literal rock bottom. The worst has happened, and there is no possible way to sink any lower. Therein lies the cliche, which is your silver lining and second step towards healing: there's nowhere to go but up

It has to get better simply because it can't get any worse. 
Repeat this to yourself in the mirror while holding a candle up to your face (see: #1). Because that will make it seem even more intense.

3. Itemize Your Valuables

Okay, so the darkness and no showering are saving you some money, but with no income, you need to find a way to make money. Fast. The best way to do this is to make a list of your valuables. Start with what would get you the most money on Ebay and go from there. If you have a spouse, he should offer to go first so your things are the last to go. 

Tip: Don't sell the candles, obviously, but it's probably okay to lose the personal hygiene products (see: #1).

If you don't have a spouse (or just like living on the edge), you might try getting out the black mask and waiting until your neighbors are out of the house to find stuff of theirs to sell. This will be easy because you are out of a job and will be home all day long--you have all the time in the world to wait them out. They have to go get toilet paper sometime. 

Take my neighbors. They leave every day at 8:30 and arrive home promptly at 5:17. Don't ask me how I know that. 

4. Embrace the Second Silver Lining

Step 4 is the best one and could really be step #1 except for the whole shower-and-sitting-in-the-dark-crying thing. 

Once you arrive at step 4, you realize that not only is this the worst that can happen, but you now have a built-in excuse for avoiding any commitment! 

Already said yes to that baby shower for that person you don't really know all that well? "Sorry, I can't come because I just got fired." BOOM. You can't argue with that. 

Don't want to buy a birthday gift for your brother's girlfriend*? Don't! You just got fired and you've been selling all your stuff, so either re-gift last-seaon's boots or better yet, don't get her anything! 

*I thought of this example before realizing that my brother's girlfriend's birthday was actually earlier this week. Ironically, I didn't get her a gift, but it was not because I don't like her or because I got fired. It was because I got lazy, which, now that I think about it, isn't all that much better. But wait! I just got fired! Also an excuse for laziness. 
BOOM x2.

Step #4 is how you get your spouse to do the dishes. 

Don't tell him I said that.  
5. Find Someone to Make Fun Of

Finally, if all else fails and you're still feeling blue, just find someone who's more ridiculous than you are to make fun of. Because laughter and flagrant judging of others is, as they say, the best medicine. 

For example: let's hypothetically say you drove to Texas to visit your family the weekend after your firing, and let's say after lunch your brothers take turns trying to funnel gummie bears into their mouths using the placemats. 

They look like idiots and they miss every single time, and it makes you feel better about being a pathetic loser.

Hypothetically speaking, of course. 
Kate said...

LMAO! I love it! I went through fier first quarter 2009. Boy, was that rocky! Remember how we'd just hit the worst part of the recession in the previous quarter? Took me a year and two months to find another job--and I had to find a sub-letter because I'd JUST extended the lease on my over-priced apartment for another year. I had to move back in with my mom and get in line for that unemployment check and I felt like a huge loser. But then every single one of my loved ones rallied around me and made me feel cherished, I met my husband, and I got to get into amazing hobbies I'd never have had the time to explore while employed. Turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me! I hope you find the same, lady!

Niken said...

i'm a freelance film crew, so basically i get the same nerve and stress every once in a while. because you know, one periode of time you can get jobs that you don't even have time to sit. and some other periode of times, there's no job call for months. i hope you'll find another job that you love soon.

Lauren said...

I got laid off last year... which is TOTALLY different from being fired, & remind yourself of that as often as possible. It's totally different to be let go through no fault of your own.

Also, my few months on unemployment were the best of my life. There were rough times (coupled by spinning outside of time & calenders, & starting craft projects at 3am) but use that time as a gift. I started an "alternatively employed breakfast club" for all my friends who were free at 10am Wednesday mornings due to unemployment or working from home.

Make yourself a planner & fill it with personal appointments that you treat with the same priority that you have staff meetings. They ARE important. Mark it with your running schedule, coffee with the ladies, craft project deadlines, & date nights.

ENJOY your free time. You won't have another opportunity like for like 30 years. That's a lot of working, it's good to have a break.

Mimsie said...

Speaking of cupcakes (see note after "leave your comment"), didn't your sweetie bring you a special cupcake recently when you were feeling down? Maybe that was the day you lost your job? Random thoughts: did you really like your job, or was it "just a job"? You will find something you LOVE doing. You are running, which is such an excellent antidote to self-pity and/or feeling depressed. Your strong faith will help you get through and beyond this. Look forward to the next chapter!

Mimsie said...

Oh, and clever me thought that the message from your visual was "branching out". :>

Brandi said...

I am awfully sorry to read of your FIER, but you certainly seem to be taking it with humor and style! I hope another door opens for you soon!

Jessie Sanders said...

Thanks for this blog post. I will be jobless at the end of the month, so I've been preparing myself by watching five seasons of Supernatural on netflix while using my children to mop up the tears of my dismay.
I hope you're able to find a new job that you love, and soon!

Unknown said...

I'm sorry you were forced into early retirement. Just please don't burn your house down with all the candles. That would ruin all silver linings... Not doing laundry is fabulous idea! Hope you enjoy some of the time and find something else you like soon!

LeAnna said...

I think you need to come over for a cupcake.

Ashley said...

I love how you think of losing your job as being forced into early retirement. FIER. Hehe... I needed to hear this a while ago, because I don't currently have a job either... and my husband and I still live in an apartment. No Biggie. ;)

Unknown said...

This is a great article. Being laid off can have a lot of effects on you and your family. It is important to find good tips to stay busy and to keep a positive attitude. Making sure you exercise is aother very important activity to do while your not working. There are also back up plans that can cover some financial bills while you don't have steady money coming in. My friend was laid off for almost have a year so I told him to research sell structured settlement. If it is hard to wait for future payments, this is a liable option to receive a lump sum of cash quickly. It may be helpful to pay bills or maybe your children's college bills. There are also other ways to obtain cash quickly like selling annuities and casino winnings. However, it is important to talk to a professional before making any decisions.

Amber Marie said...

This resonates with me.