Replacing the Irreplaceable: How To Recover From A Painful Departure

A woman in black and white dress talking to another person.

Of the many unpleasant experiences in life, being terminated from your job is definitely one of the worst. Feelings of fear, anxiety, inadequacy, and loss of security abound when we lose employment. Recent studies have shown that getting fired can take a heavier toll on your well-being than a break-up, and the recovery time can take even longer.

But it happens to just about everybody at least once in their lifetime, including some of the most famously successful minds in history.

  • A Baltimore TV station let go of Oprah Winfrey after she was determined to be a “bad fit”
  • Apple’s founder Steve Jobs was fired by the CEO he himself had hired to run the company.
  • Walt Disney was shown the door at the Kansas City Star because his work “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

Your termination may make you feel like your career has hit its ceiling, but it’s important to realize that this is merely a speed bump in your journey onward. Take a moment to breathe, and use some of these tips to help you move on to the next stage of your career.

Keep it civil.

The first thing you should do is concentrate on all the things you shouldn’t do. This can be an extremely emotional time for you, and you’re likely overwhelmed by feelings of anger, sadness, and helplessness. None of these feelings are known for producing great ideas. Bad ideas that come to mind may include:

  • Giving your boss a piece of your mind
  • Turning your former coworkers against your former boss
  • Threatening to sue the company

The natural human response to being wronged is retaliation, but in this case you should choose to keep a level head. Burned bridges will come back to haunt you, and even a boss who might’ve been unhappy with your performance may still be happy to provide you with a recommendation down the line.

Focus on you.

It’s easy to sink into depression after a rough firing. You may not feel like socializing. Your diet might spiral down into exclusively-fried territory. Motivating yourself to hit the gym for daily exercise can be a workout in and of itself. It’s important to stay away from these habits because they can affect your drive to secure employment. Exercise is a proven way to stimulate motivation, energy, and a positive attitude – all crucial to a successful job search.

Further, in the age of social media, it’s easy to get the feeling that “everyone is having fun but me.” People only post about their lives when the sun is shining, so your social media feed is a never-ending barrage of smiling faces, beach vacations, and inspiring achievements. This can create feelings of isolation, jealousy, and despair, even when you haven’t just been terminated. Avoid the inclination to compare your life to the works of fiction you see on Facebook, and focus on bettering yourself in pursuit of your next job.

Hit the pavement.

With every great loss comes grief, and grief creates a fog that clears with time. But don’t spend too long dwelling on the past. As soon as you’re capable, it’s time to start sending resumes and making phone calls. The sooner you get started, the more momentum you’ll have going into the hunt.

On the other hand, it’s also possible to spend too much time chasing down the perfect new job. If you weren’t actively seeking your dream job while you were employed, now isn’t the time either. It’s perfectly fine to look for jobs that will make you happy, but it’s much easier to do that with the stability that comes from having a job at all (any job). Taking a job that is less than ideal doesn’t mean you’re denying yourself your dreams. If anything, you’re giving yourself a more secure launching pad to reach those dreams.

Final Thoughts

The most important thing to remember is that this isn’t the end of the line. This is a natural career event that happens to even the most exceptional performers, and there are likely many people among your friends and family that can share their experiences with you and support you in this difficult time. The mental obstacles you’ll face will be challenging, but by focusing on improving yourself and addressing the task at hand, you’ll receive an offer in no time.