In which a reader reacts to bad news:
Today, tomorrow, next year. No matter when it happens, if it ever happens, hearing these words will inspire many things in men across the socio-sexual spectrum.
I know, because I got to hear them recently. And it sucks.
Suddenly your world is upside down, and for many of us, all that confidence you worked so hard to build feels as if it will evaporate before your eyes. Now what?
At the very least, it can happen to any of us, and even Vox has had the rug pulled out from under him during projects. I suspect even the highest-ranked men take a blow when this happens. So instead of bitching and crying about my situation, I’m sharing my general observations and what I’m doing. Take it for what you will, and I hope it helps if you ever find yourself in the same place.
From the moment I heard the words, the first thing I knew I had to realize was that the decision has been made. No amount of excusing or emotional-pleading would change anything (I’m looking at you gammas). It was beyond my control; their house, their rules. I decided to skip wasting any more time with people who weren’t furthering my goals.
Now, you may feel angry or sad or embarrassed or humiliated as you clean out your desk, and it’s fine to privately acknowledge those initial feelings (you’d be surprised how even a fairly confident man will feel them, I know I did). But it’s important to accept where you’re at now, so you can get back up on your feet.
You’ll be glad you walked away with your head up.
Let’s stop here for a moment. I cannot stress this one enough. Over the years I’ve seen several other friends get fired, and watching them panic is not only pathetic to see, it will definitely make the situation worse. If you have a woman and you’re panicking, she’ll panic x 100. Your house will be in disarray, energy will be spent dealing with that situation on top of everything else, and you will not be able to make the necessary decisions you’re about to need to make with a clear head. (Yes, there are decisions coming).
Instead of freaking out, I relaxed. Yeah, you heard that right. Relaxed. I recommend going for a long drive, going fishing or hiking, going to the track or to the gym. Not an all day affair, but wherever it is that you can be completely relaxed , enjoying what you’re doing for a bit (I recommend skipping your favorite bar though). For me, it was a long, long run at my favorite spot.
Now, I assessed the situation. Not who may have sold me out or how stupid I thought my boss was, but real assessment where you identify where you went wrong and what you may have done differently. By identifying what I could fix, if anything, I was gaining control over what was actually in my control.
Now I could move forward and move on with confidence. Time to rise up from this low point.
Initiate All Backup Plans Now
You do have backup plans, right? I cannot recommend enough that every many have a solid set of backups plans. If you don’t have any currently, you can start small by building up a little savings or by having a normal side-gig that brings in cash flow. Literally anything is better than nothing.
For me, it means shifting my energy toward other revenue-generating projects, falling back on my meager 1st-level emergency fund, and casually increasing the level of networking I do. Also, and here’s where the decision-making starts to come in, jettisoning unneeded luxuries. This isn’t to say that I’m some guy that’s always blowing through his money, but it’s time to figure out if there’s any additional fat you can trim from your budget. Downgrading cell services, assessing if you can learn to fix the wife’s car yourself, holding off a little longer on whatever you think you need to buy. Whatever it is, there’s always fat to trim, and you very well may need that extra $50 or $100 a month down the road. If you get fired, you’re going to be faced with a lot of these types of decisions in short order; best to get used to them fast.
Main point: don’t wait to deploy your multi-pronged set of back up plans. More initiatives today means more chance of success tomorrow.
Now that You’re Back Up, Hit it With Everything You Have
It might seem counter-intuitive to some men, but you’re not “fired” for all time or until you find another job. In fact, I’m already back on my feet. My situation is less than ideal, but I’m the man sitting at the table playing the hand I was dealt, and I damn well intend to play.
So what they tell you about making sure to keep your routine if you’re fired– it’s bullshit. For many men, routine means waking up at 8am, doing some stuff until 5pm, relaxing until 10pm, and then falling asleep. I’m going to tell you something far different: even if you feel like you don’t want to do anything, it’s actually the time to be doing as much as you can. If you wake up at 8am normally, start waking up at 6am. Fall asleep at your desk, every day. Yes, hit back at all hours until you’re literally falling asleep from exhaustion.
And it shouldn’t just be applying for jobs, though I can’t say enough that in this situation, you should be applying to 100s not merely a few due to fear of rejection. Hit the weights, run, read books, start new projects… write blog posts. Maximize your opportunities, and push forward with everything you have.
A Few Final Considerations
If you’re a regular guy, feelings like depression will pop up, at least the hints of them. I know I’ve had them. Like before, I recommend acknowledging them, and then refocusing. Do not dwell on them. They will do nothing to improve your situation.
On that note, I recommend drinking no more than one day a week, no matter your past habits. One day lets you blow of steam, but the last thing you want is to fall into a non-stop drink-a-thon. And for the gammas, no matter what you feel compelled to say: you are not on some fun vacation; this is not your wife’s gift to you this year, and you are not a stay-at-home dad with a wife that loves her career.
Lastly, understand that you must learn to STFU. I was lucky to know that no one cares why you were fired. Not your wife, not your buddies, not even your mom. Even close friends will likely give you funny looks if you tell them. I recommend not shying away from telling the truth if it comes up, but there’s no reason to broadcast it, and most importantly, really and truly, no one gives a damn about the details. Trying to socially peg down your old boss, as if anyone cared, reeks of desperation, and you… you’re a man with options.
Now, let’s get to it.