Getting laid off at any age is no fun. Yet, from experience, there are truly incredible benefits possible from this major life disruption. Even if you are in what you believe to be your dream job, life can absolutely continue to get better.
Don’t believe it? Well I am kind of the poster child for this surprising tale. At age 50, while working for the Walt Disney Company, two weeks before my 20th anniversary, I was told my services were no longer needed. What?!? I was the model loyal passionate employee with nothing but stellar reviews and amazing relationships.
It’s hard not to take these downsizing moments personally. However, being laid off in no way is a reflection of the amazing person you are. And, just like the song says, change can do you good.
Here are five amazing benefits I happily discovered after being laid off from my Disney dream-come-true job:
Spending More Time with Family
I always knew I was missing a great deal of my son’s early school years. I never did drop off or pick up. I missed a lot of school events. It was my choice so I can’t be resentful. However, I found that I had way undervalued being present for more of the every-day simple stuff.
Nico was in High School but gratefully there were still fund raising events. To everyone’s shock, I took time to bake home made brownies. I often picked him and his friends up after school and took them to In-N-Out Burger. We just hung out and talked about school projects and gulp, even girls. I was truly present all through High School. That time will always be priceless.
Embracing Real Work Life Balance
A major change gives you an opportunity to make a full reassessment. What a luxury to have the time to reflect on what’s most important to you. The focus to develop a new plan to ensure you are living the life you imagined for yourself. It was my choice to work 50 plus hours a week. None of my bosses stood over me. It’s a bit crazy in hindsight. I learned it’s possible to work efficiently and have time to hang out with family, work out, see friends and even write a book. I still love work. I have learned to be very focused and productive. I fully prioritize and compartmentalize both my working time and my living life time. Guilt Free.
Learning Lots of New Skills
After 20 years, I knew how to do my job at Disney pretty well. It’s true what they say about getting too comfortable. I was there for 3 re-releases of Cinderella so It was becoming a challenge to come up with new ideas. When I got laid off, I didn’t have an updated resume. I didn’t know how to manage my calendar. Or, how to do presentations and what to do when my computer completely fails. You learn a lot fast when you are forced to. Starting a consulting business meant all new projects, new ways of operating and even new industries. So many new challenges and opportunities! So much growth.
Enjoying Massive Stress Reduction
For the first few weeks of not having to get up early and sit in rush hour traffic, I felt so tired. I thought something was wrong. It was quite a while before I realized I wasn’t’ tired, I was just relaxed. I didn’t even know what that felt like. Taking care of me became a priority. I added more yoga and walking plus other self care habits like regular massages. I still thrive on a bit of deadline pressure, but I have no interest in revisiting the time when I thought stressed out and frazzled was normal.
Networking and Expanding Relationships
While I always prided myself on my many personal and professional friendships, looking back my circle was quite small. Changing jobs means meeting all new people. Allowing yourself time to go to the gym, travel, take classes…everything new you do opens up a whole new world of wonderful people to meet. Prioritizing people. How simple. What could be more important as well as fun.
Getting Laid Off. The Moral of the Story.
These days, getting laid off happens to the best of us.
Allow yourself a little time to do the denial and anger phase, but get to the acceptance part as soon as possible. There is a whole new world out there to explore.
Want to hear something shocking? I have not one negative to report from my Disney layoff. I am grateful for the wonderful memories. I still see the friends I used to work with. Truth is, it’s not the same place and I am not the same person. Change is more than good. It’s essential for our growth and well being.
Even when change is not your idea, try to embrace the opportunities it presents. And be sure to aim even higher. Life can absolutely get even better. Promise.