5 Things To Do When You Get Laid Off So You Don’t Freak Out

I might not be the best person to write this post as my layoff is still pretty fresh in my past. Even though it was a blessing and I know I am better off for it, there is still a sense of uncertainty about my future. This post is as much for me as it is for you the reader.

In browsing around the internet to see what the ‘experts’ had to say about steps one can take after a layoff, I ran into the same tips over and over; negotiate your severance package, update your resume, file for unemployment, get references, and on and on. While these are great actionable items (aside from negotiating your severance package – who reads articles about being laid off prior to being laid off?), they don’t really cover the things you need to do in order to keep your sanity.

1. Let people know

It’s OK. You just got laid off. It probably sucks, but it’s not the end of the world, and it’s nothing about which to be ashamed. The more you tell the story, the easier it will be to digest.

However, this isn’t your chance to make yourself the center of attention and demand sympathy from your friends, family, and strangers in the grocery line. You are simply letting people know what happened in your life, that you are OK with it, and that life goes on.

Getting the word out will also start the process of finding work. Perhaps a friend, or former co-worker, knows of a job opportunity that they would not have told you about otherwise had you kept your mouth shut. Letting people know you were just laid off is the first steps towards networking to find a new job or line of work.

2. Dream

This is your chance. You’ve been chained to a cubicle, and now you are free. What do you want to do? Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? You have a unique opportunity to chase after your dreams and do something with passion.

Take this time to map out your future. What steps can you take now to be where you want to be in the next 6-12 months?

Not only will this give you a sense of direction, but focusing on your dreams will help diminish the sting of the layoff.

As an exercise in the effectiveness of this idea, take the next few minutes to imagine what you would do if someone gave you $50 million dollars. Go through the process of giving away money, helping family members, paying off debt, setting up college scholarships, and buying a new home (or car, or both).

Likewise, in your current situation, what kind of work do you want to do? What do you want your daily schedule to look like? How will you manage your new income? Is this an opportunity to finish your education? Start a new education path? Read a book?

The more tangible you imagine your dream, the more tangible it becomes.

3. Have faith

You’re unemployed. That’s not an easy thing to deal with.

Fortunately, we serve a God who promises to provide for our needs. Sometimes, it’s hard to see, or understand how our Creator works. Sometimes He is moving on our behalf and we have no idea what He is doing. Sometimes, He will ask us to do crazy things; things that seem to have no value, or that seem unrelated to our situation. Sometimes we have to walk around Jericho before the walls will fall. Sometimes we have to step into the Jordan River before the waters part.

We serve a God who deals in miracles, who loves us more than we can possibly imagine, and who is in the business of rebuilding, and redemption. Trust Him.

4. Take action

Having faith is an action step. People had to walk around the walls of Jericho before they fell. People had to move towards the Jordan River, and cross it. We don’t just sit around and wait for God to drop opportunities in our lap. If you need to take some time to feel sorry for yourself, then take it. Give yourself a day or a week to mope around, and then get to work.

Explore options. Follow the path. Pray. Plan. Dream. These are all action items. Being productive, and getting things done, will give you a sense of accomplishment. If you are working towards your goals, then you are moving closer to your dream (I know, it sounds too simple).

Getting to work on chasing your dreams takes mental energy. You have a choice. You can use that energy to be depressed and defeated, or you can use that energy to be productive and winning.

5. Focus on others

Your world just changed. You just ended a season of your life, and the view out your windshield is blurry. It’s easy to fall into self-examination and fixate on what you could have done differently in the past. It’s easy to start pointing fingers and figure out how they wronged you; how everyone wronged you. But, what does that accomplish? How will that benefit you, or your future?

Let people know you were laid off. Dream. Trust God. Make a plan, and take action towards your goals. Then, or at the same time, focus on others.

You’ve got some free time on your hands. Are there places you can volunteer? Are there friends that need your help? Is someone being crazy and moving in the middle of the week? Get out and find ways to serve others.

How does this help?

Well, you aren’t sitting at home twiddling your thumbs, trying to figure out why the world hates you so much. You aren’t staring at a TV, watching day time television – which is horrible by the way – I can’t believe the garbage they put out during the day.

Focusing on others keeps you around people. Though I am a big fan of spending time in my cave with my thoughts, I recognize the importance of getting out, being active, and spending time with others. This keeps your brain and body active. It gives you a chance to network, and possibly find the thing that will lead to your dream job.

If you are going to work on your faith; loving God, then you might as well work on your whole faith; loving God, and loving your neighbor.


What other ways can you deal with sudden life changes without freaking out?

3 thoughts on “5 Things To Do When You Get Laid Off So You Don’t Freak Out

  1. Rob,

    You have written another thought provoking article.

    I think that it is possible that the amount someone is prone to “freak out” in these situations can be influenced greatly by their personality type. Between my wife and I, generally speaking, her personality seems to bring her to place of worrying over things more of the time than my personality brings me to that same place.

    However, that being said, I personally believe that there are two things outside of personality type that have an even greater influence on when I find myself freaking out, although, I am not sure if this will be true for everyone or not. In each endeavor that I have ever attempted to complete, I first needed head knowledge, but I also needed heart knowledge.

    Reading opened up a whole new world in my mind that I never experienced before doing so. From the first book until now, I can’t seem to get enough. The more I learn, the more I realize that there is so much more out there available for me to learn. However, even though I was reading a lot of information, the amount that I was applying didn’t even come close to matching what I was reading. This is what I call head knowledge. I kept thinking that if I could only get the right information to motivate me, then I would be able to accomplish whatever I set out to accomplish.

    What I didn’t realize at the time was that motivation wasn’t what was going to bring me results. The only thing that would actually bring me the results was action. I could complete an action even when I didn’t feel motivated to do so and still experience positive results. Once I experienced this realization, it allowed me to take more action without trying to create more motivation before doing so. I started taking action and getting some results. These results allowed me to really find out if the head knowledge that I had was accurate or inaccurate based on the results that I would get. This is what I consider heart knowledge.

    I explained all that in order for the next sentence to make sense. It has been my experience that the more heart knowledge I have, the easier it is for me not to get freaked out in the next challenge that I find myself needing to overcome. However, this is just my opinion and I have no Idea if it would work the same for the next person.

    By the way, I found myself thinking this week, I wonder what Rob’s next article is going to be about. That is one of the signs of a good writer, when your readers start to naturally anticipate reading what you write about next. Great job, keep it up!



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