My Dignity Plan came to me a month into the takeover. I’d just come from meeting with the new CEO, who prided himself on never eating lunch. As I shuffled back to my office, I saw a co-worker carrying a grungy box overflowing with her stuff. She looked stunned as the lawyer escorted her to the elevator.
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That’s it, I thought. If I’m going down, I’m going down unencumbered. I made a decision to do a meticulous inventory of everything I’d accumulated. I was, on my last day, going to leave with a few photographs and my purse. I was determined to avoid cramming two decades’ worth of belongings into one of the discarded boxes that’d been piled in front of the freight elevator.
In retrospect, it was this instinct that held me together during the whole process. Concentrating on executing the slowest move known to mankind–filling my reusable Trader Joe’s bag with five or six items at a time–became a worthy distraction. It also allowed me to hit the ground running after I, indeed, was let go.
In fact, since getting fired, I’ve never been happier and more productive, doing what I’ve always dreamed of doing–writing. I credit my momentum and return back to the old, happy me to five top strategies I employed immediately after I got axed:
1. Say It Out Loud: “I Got Fired”
Then write about it. Getting fired is a traumatic experience and one way to process trauma is to put pen to paper and see what comes up. Venting about the whole odyssey in my journal grounded me. Unloading negative feelings helped me move forward in a way that felt focused, not panicked.
2. Make Time to Do Nothing or What You’ve Never Had Time To Do
Decompression is a balm for stress. Allowing yourself to have some down time will open up space in your I’m-in-shock mind and body. I started taking baths every night. I walked every morning. I read my 8,000 back issues of Oprah and Sunset. I cleaned out clutter and donated. This was all while I constructed my action plan, and created a budget that I knew would carry me through the time I was taking to refresh and renew.
3. Dream Big
Write down every place you’d ever want to work. Even if you have no training or degree for whatever it is that makes your heart sing, put it on your Dream Job List. Your list can be limitless. Mine was. I had everything from “anything non-profit” (I’d just come from a corporate dungeon) to “truck driver” (talk about freedom).