When I started this blog in 2008, I was a corporate trainer and working towards my Master’s Degree in Training and Development. I saw my path, I was on it, and life was good.
But, as we all know, life doesn’t always follow the path we want it to. In December 2009, I was laid off from my company and I joined the millions of Americans who are “In Transition”. This posting reflects back to the moment I learned the news.
In Transition: What it means to me
In Transition – at first I wasn’t sure I liked this – it just seemed to be the phrase of the day. But I kept thinking about the word Transition. It’s an action word – an action initiated by me. If I say I’m laid off from my job, that implies something being done to me and is limited to my professional life. If I say I’m transitioning my life and focus, that’s something that I’m doing and encompasses growth, learning, and all aspects of me. Transit is also in motion – it’s happening. Its moving. I’m proud to say I’m “In Transition”. What’s my destination? I’m not sure, but I know I have one, and it’s going to be great! I’m excited about this new movement in my career and life.
Excitement and Hope
In fact, excitement and hope have been the dominant feelings I’ve experienced since my manager told me the news. She pulled me into her office and calmly explained what was happening and why. While I was sitting there, I kept waiting for the feelings of anger, despair, and sadness. I’ll admit I was sad and would miss my co-workers. But anger? Didn’t show up. Despair? Couldn’t find it. Anguish? Nothing.
In fact, my biggest feeling was one of hope and excitement for the future! As she was talking, I was making plans to be a full-time student and graduate in May. I was plotting how to best organize my time so I could clean out the house, work on my photography, finish the scarf I’m knitting, blog more, volunteer, and blog more. I felt free to expand myself and explore all the things I hadn’t had time for while I was working and going to school.
Life is about learning and here is what I learned/did while I was still working in the office (I had a 3 week period between being informed and my last date).
- Attitude is everything! Of course I didn’t like hearing I was being laid off, who does? But what would I gain by showing anger to my manager, co-workers, or anyone else? I’d still be out of a job. My manager (Sr. VP of Human Resources) said that I had the best attitude of any person she’d ever had to release in the past 20 years. If there is an opportunity to work with her again, how is she going to remember me?
- Truly understand the business reason for the situation. I had to separate myself from the business. It was nothing personal.
- Show up for work every day and work! I was still receiving a paycheck, so therefore I needed to provide value. There were projects I was involved in, and as long as I was on the payroll, I still had responsibilities to my projects and my co-workers.
- Never bad-mouth anyone, nor display anger or disappointment. Ever. Not at work, not on Facebook, not in email, not on Twitter. Save those conversations for family.
- Make plans for the future. Plan to keep yourself busy, and start acting on the IMMEDIATELY! This set my mind for action — the idea of transit is about action.
- Transition your work to the best of your ability. My rationale was that I could conceivably work with these people again, and I wanted them to remember me in the most positive manner possible.
- Say goodbye to everyone, personally if possible. I walked around and thanked every person and provided my contact information. I let them know I was looking for work, and if they heard of anything, to contact me. I also sent out an email with my contact information and yet another thank-you for providing such a wonderful working experience for the past 3 years. I was surprised by how many people wrote back to thank me and tell me how much they appreciated the good-bye.
In my next posting I’ll blog about the actual steps I followed after leaving the office – things like unemployment, COBRA, and beginning my job search.