Why Losing Your Job Doesn’t Mean You’re Failing

Terminated. Laid Off. Non-Rehired. Let Go. Downsided. Fired. Released. Even hearing those words creates turmoil in our stomachs and fills our thoughts with worry. When we find ourselves losing a job, we can find ourselves trapped in the cycle of grief, because losing a job almost feels like losing someone we love, like losing a piece of ourselves. We find ourselves in a whirlwind of emotions: shock, sadness, anger, anxiety. For many of us, losing a job feels like losing it all in a way; it feels like we’ve failed.

Here’s the thing, though: there are numerous factors that can go into a job loss that may or may not even involve us or our work. We cannot equate losing one job to negative judgement of our life or labeling ourselves as a failure because of one flub in our lifetime of jobs. Sometimes, all we need is a difference in perspective, a shift in how we are viewing the situation. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to my friends and family about this topic in the last week as I am currently going through the turmoil of losing a job. Through talking to them, I found three core perspectives to view job loss through that were not focused in the negative.

You are more than your work.

“Your job does not define your value. You are valuable because of who you are. Remember, losing one job is not the end of the world.” -Elissa

We often find ourselves highly invested in our job. We may have spent large sums of money obtaining a degree or certification to be able to even do the job we’ve now lost. We may be working extra in the hopes of a bonus or promotion. We may have personal needs that we think can be filled by proving ourselves to someone. The reality is this, though: our existence isn’t defined by our paycheck or the location of our desk; life is so much more than the material things or the status symbols. Who we are matters so much more than where we work: we should be investing our time and energy into relationships, self-care, and whatever makes us feel, well, happy.

“Moving up/forward is not always best; status and money are not always the most important things in life.” -Anonymous Friend

The best is yet to be.

“The universe holds plans for your future that will leave you feeling more fulfilled.” -Kelly

You can call it what you want (God, supreme being, higher power, fate, will of the universe), but you cannot deny that there are parts of the human experience that simply can’t be defined by logic, reason, or science. We can apply this same belief to positive events as well as negative events that happen in our lives. Sometimes we lose our jobs for no logical reason with no warning signs…shit happens. We can spend the aftermath continuing to sit with our suffering, or we can look for signs as to what our next steps should be. The answer may lead us somewhere better than we could have ever imagined.

“Losing your job doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it means that the world has better plans for you.” -Juliana

You Define Yourself Though Reinvention

“The mindset of working at the same job from age 18 until retirement just doesn’t exist anymore. Sometimes we have to reinvent ourselves multiple times in the span of our work life.” – Casey

They say that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and I can’t think of a better application of that phrase than when we find ourselves suddenly unemployed. We can reflect, we can grow, we even channel our anger into a worthy cause. The call to action may push us to travel out of our “comfort zone” and really explore the world, or it may allow us to finally get the determination to do that thing we’ve been putting off for years because of the job. We cannot avoid change, we cannot refuse to better ourselves.

I’m always open to growing so that I can continue to be the best version of myself for all aspects of my life.” – Kyla

None of this is in any way a dismissal of how you feel after losing a job or meant to be an invalidation of those feelings tied to grief. The trick is to find the balance between mourning the loss of a job (a job you may have loved or one you may have hated) and moving forward. If nothing else, just remember this: you are not a failure just because of this one failed mission. You are so much more than your job, you have so much to give. Keep going, you can do it.

Photo by Concha Rodrigo on Unsplash


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