What I Learned from My Layoff

In December 2016, I was laid off from the financial arm of a multinational conglomerate. I had been there for more than two years at that point, but I knew 5 months in that this gig was going to end the way it did. Reason being, the company had announced in early 2015 that it was selling 90%+ of its assets and accordingly, their staffing needs would dramatically decrease. Since I was part of general infrastructure, rather than a specific business unit to be sold, my days were numbered.

The Bright Side of Layoff ... Is There One?
Although getting laid off comes with a whole host of negative side effects, a surprising amount of good came out of it for me as well. For one, it took approximately 18 months between the time the announcement was issued, to my last day at the company. For most of this time, I didn't know from one day to the next who my leader was going to be, which colleagues would leave when, what goals I'd be working towards, and how long my tenure at the company would last.

This level of uncertainty was highly unnerving at first. It was hard to concentrate on anything else. But the good thing about living with this kind of uncertainty for nearly a year and a half, is that when it's over, you get pretty good at coping with uncertainty. I found that this newfound comfort level served me well in practically every other area of my life. In a prior job, I received feedback during a year-end review that I needed to get more comfortable with uncertainty. Well, check.

Exploring New Possibilities
Knowing that I was going to be laid off, and having such a long runway, also gave me the time I needed to think about what I wanted to do next. I had a former colleague who went from working in Risk Management to operating his own laundromat as a small business owner. He loved his newfound flexibility and empowerment, and would likely not have made the life change if he hadn't been forced to evaluate his life trajectory after layoff.

It helped that we were given a tuition reimbursement benefit as part of the layoff package, which I used to explore various interests and work on some skills that I always wanted to improve, such as how to learning the art of small talk. One of the classes I took was ice skating. Although I had no intention of pursuing ice skating as a vocation, that class helped me to develop a growth mindset, which you can read more about here. I have also taken other classes that may lead to a career, including health coaching and social work.

In Conclusion
Despite my belief that this company continued to hire employees while knowing that most, if not all, would eventually be laid off ... I will always be grateful to them. First of all, they saved me after I had twins by giving me a job that was 35 minutes from home instead of the 90 minutes I had been doing previously. On top of that, they gave me the opportunity for personal development in coming to grips with uncertainty. Finally, they did right by us in terms of layoff benefits to help us weather the upheaval financially, search for new jobs, and acquire new skill sets. For all this, I owe them a debt of gratitude.


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