I would be among that group. When I was fired, I was shocked, confused, stunned, angry, and a bit lost.
Early in the process of dealing with it, I thought it was one of the worst things to ever happen to me.
But over time things have a funny way of working themselves out. Now I consider getting fired to be one of the best things to ever happen to me.
Let me tell you why…
Setting the Scene
I detailed what led up to the firing as well as the dirty deed itself in The Day My Most Valuable Asset Took a Hit, but let me add a few more points:
- I did “love” the job, but it’s mostly because I am a type-A person. I had always wanted to be the president of a company and see if I really had what it took to succeed.
- We were having success (we had the best sales year in company history in 2014 and 4th highest profit year), which was great. Of course businesses are meant to grow, so success this year means a higher hurdle to jump over next year.
- The pressure was immense — like nothing I’d ever felt (and I worked for some intense Fortune 500 companies). When the livelihoods of 800 people are your responsibility, you feel the burden to succeed. (And when you have 800 people you often have to babysit because even adults do stupid things at work, that’s stressful as well.)
- Add to this that it was a retail business and that just notches the pressure up. In retail you get a report card every day (the previous day’s sales, etc.) that tell you if you’re a hero or a bum. Then you have to fight another day to make the next day great.
- Plus the business was in a dying industry that was being killed by Amazon, a variety of other much larger competitors, and changing technology that we couldn’t afford to purchase.
All this and much more added up to one thing: S-T-R-E-S-S. Big-time stress…
Overcome by Stress
How did this stress manifest itself? A few ways:
- I couldn’t sleep. My mind was always turning, my phone was always on, and I was always working (whether there or not). How could I even hope to sleep well?
- My fitness tanked. I still worked out (up at 5:30 am to swim at 6 am several times a week), but we ate out a lot since I was often busy and I was pumped up on soda and coffee to keep going.
- My family relationships suffered. Why? One word: time. I was at work either literally or figuratively for most of every day.
- When I was home and not working I spent my free time zoned out. All I wanted to do was something mindless like watch TV or a movie. I needed to shut my brain off and relax as best I could because I knew the next day (or even next hours) were going to require me to give my all mentally and physically.
I think you get the picture. Lots of success at work but a ton of stress and many sacrifices.
What the Firing Did
So while the firing looked like it was something bad (which was how I took it initially), here is the series of good events that it unleashed:
- I looked over our finances in detail and started to realize we were already financially independent. I say “started” because I still thought I needed to hit the “magic” $4 million net worth number I had estimated many years ago. Plus we lived in Oklahoma and I knew I did not want to retire there. (No offense to those in OK, but it wasn’t my cup of tea, especially in May when our lives were on the line.) This was a good thing.
- As I began to network and look at job offers, I found one in Colorado. I had always been impressed by the state though I didn’t know a lot about living in it. After getting to know CO a bit better and liking the job (at least what the promised job was), we decided to move. This was a very good thing.
- When it became apparent that the job I was promised wasn’t the one I actually got, I began to look at our finances again. This time I lived in a place I would want to retire and the decision became an almost no-brainer. So a bit over a year after we got here, I retired. This was an awesome thing!
- Then being retired led to a whole host of great things, many that you’ve read about in my retirement updates.
So what appeared to be one of the worst events in my life actually set in motion a series of events that has given me a great life that I could never have imagined a few years ago.
So why did I want to write about this? A few reasons:
- I think it’s good for me to share now and then about my failures (like being fired). There’s so much on this site that seems to be me talking about how great I’ve been at one thing or another. A little humble pie is good every now and then. If you want more, see My Worst Money Mistakes and An Investment Gone Bad.
- If you ever find yourself fired, know that it’s ok to grieve for some time. Let it work its way out. Also know that your life (and career) is not over. If you’ve built your network and insured your career, you’ll probably be fine.
- If you get fired realize that it may work out for the better. Mine is one story but I’ve heard from others that getting fired was a good thing for them as well.
- You need to have your finances in order. That’s the best career insurance of all — not really needing a job. The closer you are to financial independence, the better you can handle being fired. I’m sure I would have been much more panicked if I had been fired 20 years earlier since our finances were still in development at that stage.
Any one reading this who has been fired or known others who have? Was it good or bad?