Today, someone is going to be fired.
Whether expected or caught completely off guard, the shock and onslaught of anxiety can be equally devastating.
Regardless of how well the company handles the actual termination conversation, more than likely there will be feelings of anger, embarrassment and perhaps even shame, especially as you make that endless walk to your cubicle or office, say your goodbyes to colleagues, collect your personal possessions and carry your banker boxes to the car.
Then you have to tell your spouse. The sudden loss of a job can have far-reaching and immediate consequences, some of them quite serious. These conversations are never easy.
It is no surprise then that after a brief period of processing the shock, we feel compelled emotionally to immediately begin calling colleagues and friends, starting the process of networking for a new job. In most cases these calls are accompanied by a strong sense of wanting to tell others what has just happened, especially if we feel a grave wrong has been done. For many, there is a keen desire to hear others agree that what happened was, indeed, an injustice of epic magnitude.
Don’t. Mow the lawn, clean out a closet or the garage, go shopping, play golf — anything but call colleagues or potential employers informing them of the termination and asking about other employment opportunities.
Hopefully your former employer provided outplacement coaching. If they did, consult with them as soon as practical. But here, too, it is always a good idea to take some time to personally decompress. You do not want to begin that relationship in a moment of emotional upheaval. Wait several days, even a week. Losing one’s job is the career management equivalent of a sudden death in the family. There are stages of grief that must be processed. Let it happen.
During that interval, be honest with yourself and what you truly want in a job. Brutally honest.
Were you really happy with what you were doing? Is what you want for your career and family a similar job with a new employer, perhaps in another city? Are you so enthusiastic about your career path that you are up for this kind of transition, possibly three or four more times in your life?
Or is there something out there about which you are more passionate but you are afraid to give it much thought because you do not want people to think you are being silly, that you have taken leave of your senses?
Look at it another way, ask yourself, as the old adage goes, what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? That is the real test of truth.
“Happiness and joy are not rewards at the end of a life well played. It really is about enjoying it every step of the way. So you better like what you are doing, and don’t view everything as a stepping stone.”
Ms. Borenstein said she learned this lesson too late in life.
You have one life. Do not continue to pursue stepping stones.