5 Steps to Move Forward After Being Fired

Donald Trump jokes aside, “You’re fired!” are two of the most terrifying words you can hear, especially if you’ve worked your butt off and given your all in the name of your work. If you’ve ever been fired, you know how demeaning and frustrating it can be. All of a sudden, that dream job or career — along with the profile you spent years building — comes to a halt.

Anger, frustration, terror and betrayal are often the first feelings that show up once you get laid off. For some, this experience can be akin to some other very serious life situations, even the death of a loved one. I mean, it is your survival we’re talking about here, along with your pride, identity, sense of self-worth, etc. It can be very challenging to bounce back, but it must be done.

So how to go about it? How do you cope with all the stress? In essence, how do you get your head back in the game and start looking for another job? Here are some 5 simple tips.

1) Accept your feelings.

When you get fired, it is okay to become angry, frustrated and feel betrayed. Don’t try to hide or justify to yourself that it’s better this way. Open up and allow yourself to feel everything. This doesn’t mean feeding those feelings and wallowing in them, but this is a serious incident and life transition we’re talking about here — you’ve got to give yourself permission to feel everything that comes up. Take some time to be angry, cry, vent to loved ones and so on. Let it out. Believe it or not, if you can master this, you’ll actually be able to process all of it much more quickly and get to the business of moving on that much faster. 

One thing: it’s integral to remember that the ability to move on requires accepting things that you cannot change. So, accept that you lost the job. You cannot change that fact. 

2) Take time to reflect on what happened.

While processing your emotions is incredibly important, so is working with your thoughts. One way to get your head back in the game is to deliberately reflect on your experience. Is it possible to look at this as a learning experience, or even an opportunity? Believe it or not, being terminated can actually be used as a very strong weapon for making better decisions in the future.

As you work through both your thoughts and emotions, try to get as clear an idea of what happened as possible. Don’t give in to a negative or biased spin. Was it you? Was it your performance? Or was it truly someone else? What do you enjoy doing at work? What do you hate doing? All of these things are an integral part of making proper decisions as you get ready to take your next steps.

3) Control your emotions.

This may seem counter intuitive to point number one, but it’s not. Allowing your emotions is one thing, but allowing them to take you over is another entirely. That’s how a lot of people end up with serious regrets.


Once you are fired from your job, the future may seem uncertain, but it’s important to realize that it’s not the end of the world (even though it may feel like it at first). 

Most people will lock themselves up in the house or avoid being in social places to avoid meeting with friends or family members. As you work through steps one and two, capitalize on the pockets of time that are more positive by exercising, reading, journaling, or taking a walk to relieve stress. Train your mind in these moments to focus on the next step rather than dwell on the past. If you can manage this more often than not, everything else will fall into place with time.

4) Look for inspiration in others.

Now may be a good time to begin surrounding yourself with ‘encouragers— friends who believe in your ability to become the person you want to be — and weeding out the ‘Negative Nancies’ from your life. Stay away from naysaying friends and colleagues who will only make the situation worse. (You know who these people are.)

Taking it a step further, this may in fact be the perfect time to connect with people who can mentor and advise you on what to do. Is it time to pursue your passion? We live in the age of information and social connection. You can either dwell negatively on how everybody’s life seems better than yours (it’s not) or use these incredible tools to find and connect with those who are successful in a field you admire, and ask them questions. Everyone loves talking about themselves. Use this as a type of ‘inspiration springboard’ for yourself while giving back simply by genuinely listening at the same time.

Who knows, you may just make a new lifelong friend in the process! 

5) Make a good action plan.

Now that you’re coming out the other side of the dark tunnel of getting fired, it’s a good time to prepare a list of all the steps you need to complete to get prepared for the next job hunt.

You can update your resume, include a new list of references, search for job recommendations and new positions. Look for jobs that match your skills and abilities and research companies that offer those jobs. Get yourself listed on linked in and indeed if you’re not already there, and use this time to befriend a mentor or two within those companies.

Also, write customized cover letters and with the help of friends and family, and practice for interviews. 

Conclusion

Losing a job can be devastating at first, but a lot (most) of the time we simply don’t know why things happen. Who knows, five years from now you could look back and realize that getting fired was in fact one of the best things that ever happened to you. Remember that when you are in it, it always seems much worse than it actually is.

It’s not. Especially if you use the opportunity to open a new chapter in your career. Remember, it’s just a matter of accepting the situation, narrowing your interest and finding the right spot to pursue something else. Make it happen!