You’re Fired: Now What?

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You’re Fired: Now What?

You're Fired! = Sticky Note

By: Terry Burgess, Career and Personal Leadership Coach

You're Fired! = Sticky Note

You’re Fired! = Sticky Note

“You’re Fired.” These two little words are powerful words that invoke a lot of different reactions and emotions for any individual who has heard them before.  There are a limited number of people who have never heard these words in their life.  If you are one of those individuals consider yourself fortunate.

I myself however, am not one of those unfortunate individuals.  I heard those two dreaded words for the only time in my life when I was forty years old on December 2, 2009.  It was on that day that I was notified that I was being let go from a job that I truly loved and held for 15 years.  I could not blame my supervisor nor the administration of the university I worked at for their decision.  However, when I heard those words I took them like an adult accepted my fate with dignity and a bit of shock.

I left the room in the Human Resources Department that afternoon keeping my emotions and mind presentable for public while walking to my car.  I turned the key and left campus knowing that I had one month left in my job. I found that as I was driving toward my house, which was only 2 blocks from campus, my stone-faced nature turned to horrifying fear and emotional crying.  I decided to pass by my house, drive to the park to sit and sort out my feelings while also planning how to address this situation with my family and friends.

Looking back at the experience, here are 5 lessons I learned during this experience.

  • Losing your job through termination or lay off is just as traumatic as losing a family or close friend to death.

I would have said this statement was false before my experience. This is because I truly did not realize how much of my self-confidence and identity was tied to my career choice of working in education.  It was a vocation of love to me. I felt a tremendous loss of my “work family”,” my school family”, and eventually led to the loss of my actual family (more on that story in future blogs).  However, the one thing I did learn is you are not solely identified by your career choice. The second thing I learned is it ok and I recommended to treat this as the end of a chapter in your story of life.

  • You must not blame others for your actions that resulted in your loss of your job if you were fired/terminated.

If you lost your job due to termination you must take 100% responsibility for your actions that brought on your termination.  This was a difficult one for me at first.  Yes, there were extenuating circumstances in my personal life that my supervisors knew about that caused me to commit to the actions I committed my contractual violations.  However, it was those circumstances that allowed me to leave on terms that would not harm my future career choices and gave me an extra two months of benefits.  I knew why I was terminated but it was not until I dealt with those outside circumstances in my life that was able to fully see I made all the choices that led to the outcome regardless of who or what was influencing me at that time.

  • Remember that your firing is not a termination of your life but only on of a position you held in your career.

I found myself in a difficult period after I lost my job. This is because I chose to remain in the rural area I lived in due to family obligations.  This severely limited my ability to continue in my higher education field.  However, it did allow me time to dabble in other work and career areas as a stop gap measure and help support my family.   I also found the stop gap jobs allowed me time to really figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.   I also found that God’s plan is a lot bigger than my plans and He knew what I was about to go through and taking care of me.

  • Find your supportive family and friends and lean on them to help you remain positive through the recovery process.

Looking back upon this period of my life, I found out who were my real true and supporting friends during this time.  I was afraid I was going to lose several of my friends because of my actions.  Yes, I lost several friends. However, I found the ones who stayed by my side were my true friends and would help me though the difficult journey ahead.  I also found that I gained several new friends who were more positive and supportive of my efforts and plight.

  • Keep a journal to help you see how much you have grown through the process.

I had always kept a journal of some sorts thought out my adult life from 25 years old and older. However, I did not realize its value to me of reflecting and seeing how much I grew and developed as a person until after this event and the ones I faced in the coming six years.  It helped give me tremendous insight to seeing how my mind worked, my empowerment over my life increased, and my self-confidence/self-esteem grew over this six-year period of life.

Fired to Hired Book Cover

Fired to Hired Book Cover

I am going to share with you further detail to help give you the full background story of why I started my business Upward MC (Mentoring and Coaching) and why I am writing my first book “Fired to Hired: A Practical Guide How-to Guide for Dealing with Job Loss” in future blog posts.

If you have a story of dealing with re-branding yourself after a career change or job loss due to termination or layoff, I would love to talk to you.   I would love to have your insight as I prepare to write my book and it would allow me to share other’s experiences.  Please feel free to contact me.

Terry is a Career and Personal Leadership Coach with Upward MC in Benton, Kentucky.  He can be contacted via e-mail at  or by phone at 270-493-0967. His website can be found at


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