Have you been fired, laid off, or faux-fired? In this episode, I draw from coaching tools and Robin Merle's Involuntary Exit book to equip you with ideas and tools to help you if you've bee fired. I provide my background and story for when I got fired and I give you the podcast I wish I had to help me on my journey towards healing and growth. I provide 10 tools and concepts to help you navigate this major life change. This is part 1 "If you've been fired." Make sure you check out part 2 of "If you've been fired."
Imagine feeling courageous and hopeful about the future even in uncertain times. Imagine finding purpose and meaning after a major life change. Change can be hard, but it is also an opportunity for growth and self reflection. Whether the change is chosen or not, we always get to write our own story and decide how we choose to respond to change. Welcome to the made for change podcast with Dr. Janny Chang, certified life coach and master of self reinventions and change. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes you will face major life changes and reemerge confident and courageous and ready to embark on the next chapter of your life. Now, let's get started
this is episode two of the made for change podcast formerly known as the unleash your inner power podcast with Dr. Janny Chang.
Hi, lovely friends. It is so good to be here. I know so many of my friends who are on the East Coast, or wherever you are. And if you are facing a cold front, you are incredible. You're incredible. I just had my son's fifth birthday party. This
just yesterday, actually, outdoors in Dallas. And if you're from Dallas, or you know, Dallas, it's got temperamental weather. And we had an outdoors because of COVID. And it was so cold. I mean, the wind gust I think was at, you know, 25 miles per hour. We to do a lot of pivot with a party like that word pivot.
And it snowed, it snowed during my son's birthday party. The good thing is, my son said he actually wished for snow on his birthday. And it was just so incredible to watch, because he was just his eyes were lit up, all his friends were so excited to see snow. And all the parents were just super excited for their kids. And so anyway, it really, it made for a very special and memorable event, even though we had to make a lot of last minute changes, as I am sure so many parents are dealing with right now. And you know what, kudos to you for showing up. Even if that means getting out of bed, making breakfast making coffee, you do whatever you need to do. But just to show up just to be there and give your kids a hug or give yourself a hug. And to acknowledge it, I let myself acknowledge that this is hard. It is hard to be a parent during this time.
And it's also okay, it's also okay that it's hard. Because I can do hard things, right, we can do hard things. So I just wanted to give that little tidbit about my life. And I'd love to hear from you too. So as always, please contact me, I'd love to hear from you. Janny Chang email@example.com. Visit my website, I sort of revamped it. rebranding myself picking a new niche. That's what I really passionate about. And I really want to get out there and help as many women and people as possible. So do reach out, I'd love to always hear from you. And again, I'm also just so grateful for you tuning in. So grateful. Alright, this week, I wanted to talk about something. And I want to say to kind of exciting in the sense that it's a topic that I think so needs to be discussed more in that sense. But of course I know it's it's it can be very devastating to people. So that's kind of why I want to talk about it because I I want this to help people who are going through similar type of change. Okay, and this week, what I want to cover along with the next episode, part one and part two, this is part one, is I want to talk about a major life change, so near and dear to me. And it's also somewhat of a taboo topic in some circles, and it's about being fired or laid off. Or in some cases, you know, it's called faux- fired where an environment that's been - that's hostile has been created to force someone to either retire early or to quit, which is basically similar to getting fired or laid off right. Have you recently been fired or laid off? In this episode, I'm going to draw a lot from Robin Merle's book. It's called involuntary exit a woman's guide to thriving after being fired. And by the way, my friends get this book because it is so good and self affirming and there's so much overlap with coaching and the tools I have to offer. And so in my podcast I'm going to pull from her I'm just going to pull from my own coaching tools and what I've learned in coaching
fact, one of the key recommendations she makes is getting a coach. She talks about this in her book numerous times, like hire a coach, I work with a coach and I'm like, Yay, Robin, you're amazing. You're my people. And I hope to get her on this podcast someday and interview her because I am just, like, instantly in love with her, you know, in her writing, and her storytelling. And in this book, she she goes in interviews, all these women who have been fired and goes through like the arc of their lives, the emotional arc, and also their action arcs. You know, and so do you ever really have moments when you read something someone wrote, and you're like, wow, this person, I could totally be, you know, best friends. And I'm like, all the books I read, especially the soulful ones, you know, and so, you know, Robin Merle is one of those right? Um, Glennon Doyle is also, you know, my mind one of my closest friends in my trust circle.
So, let me tell you a little bit about my background. Okay, so my family and I've talked about this before, in my previous unleash your inner power podcast, especially episode one, you know, so I had I have immigrant parents from Taiwan. And they've always played it safe, right? English was not their first language. The American Dream for them consisted of working for one employer until they retired. Okay, and that's what they saw also for their children, right. That's what they wanted. Now, we know that with automation and advances in technology, it's rare now, for people to work for one employer their whole lives. And we also know that the workforce is constantly changing, especially with a pandemic and the recent great resignation.
So about four jobs ago, almost a decade ago, I was fired. And it's so interesting, because for the longest time, I did not tell anyone, because I had all this shame about it. All this shame, I was so embarrassed, humiliated. I was worried that people would think that they would think I was incompetent and I myself felt so unworthy, unworthy, and ashamed. And I actually did all the things that Robin Merle in her book advises you not to do right I was very reactive. I got mad I huffed and puffed. I try to contact former colleagues to complain about my situation. I even at one point, you know, armed with, you know, equip myself with a labor lawyer, which by the way, is actually not something that you shouldn't do. I mean, it really is something depend on your situation that might actually be useful, okay. And Robin world agrees with me as well, from her book. But anyway, the point is, I just was very reactive. And most regrettably, most regrettably, I blamed myself, I totally blame myself. You know, in my mind, my story was I was fired. Because I was a horrible worker, I made mistakes. I disagree with my boss, I proposed ideas that were different than his, I came up with fundraising strategies that were actually superior and worked well. And that made him feel insecure. Right. And so, you know, that was a story I told myself, you know, I was fired because of some internal restructuring, and the lack of funding that ran out for my position. But my boss, and I did not part ways well, in the end, right, so I had a bitterness leaving the organization. And I also felt totally horrible, just horrible about the situation. And myself. And I think that one of the main reasons is that I was a type a loyalist, and this is, you know, a type that's discussed in Robin Merle's book, you know, and type a loyalists are people who define themselves according to their work, their position, their title, their job, their career, right, and people who are to stay loyal to the organization or company, even when they know, they're about to be let go, right.
They work even harder, you know, when there's restructuring going on, they try to fix it, and they please their superiors,
they also tend to blame themselves for things gone wrong at work. And they also have the hardest time recovering when they've been let go. And that was me. That was me almost 10 years ago. And it's so interesting, because for the next three to four years after that, I carried that shame of being fired with me.
And now when I talk about it, I feel detached from it. And that's kind of how you know when you've recovered, you know, from something like a major change in your life, is that you don't have as residue of anger, you know, or being upset. I'm not angry or upset. I'm not sad about it. And I did
definitely know that that event is one of the key events that propelled me on a journey of finding myself and defining my worth apart from my work.
Now, I want to say that when I finally did start telling people about my story of being fired, it was like everyone came out of the woodwork, right. And the most amazing women I've gotten to know and surrounded myself with, came forward and told me their stories and how they also got fired. You know, I was shocked because the condition I received was I blame myself, right. And I saw also others as maybe being fired for similar reasons. Right. It was being deficient in some way, you know, but what I realized and what Robin Merle confirms in her book is that most people who get fired are fired for no reason. And it's just corporate policy, senior management restructures mergers the bottom line, and employees are simply seen as dispensable even when they've totally worked hard. They've been exceptional. And they've sacrificed so much for their employers, right.
So in each of these cases, what I want to spend this, this in the next next episode, on are ways to navigate getting fired, and not blaming ourselves or defining ourselves by our jobs, or career.
And so I'm telling this story, my story to the world for you to hear. Because I don't want you to go through the same thing I did. If I had found a podcast like this, when I was fired, or had the tools of coaching to use at the time, I would have gotten to where I wanted to go so much faster, and smoother and without beating myself up.
So what I want to cover are 10 tools to navigate getting fired or let go or laid off or not getting tenure, right. And these include coaching tools as well, as was proposed by Robin Merle in her book.
So the first tool to keep in mind, okay, and these are tools, ideas, strategies, however you want to call it. The first one is recognize that there will be Stages of Grief following the event. And what I love about what Robyn Merle uses is that she doesn't use Elisabeth Kubler Ross's version of grief. But what she does allude to is the stages that people who have survived bullying, tend to go through those stages of grief.
Excuse me. So,
the first stage, shocking numbness, second stage, yearning and searching towards comfort zone, you know, a yearning right towards your comfort zone.
The third stage, disorganization and disorientation for day to day routine is gone.
fourth stage, reorganization and resolution, the psyche comes down, and you realize you can do something new, but similar to the stages of grief, these stages also aren't linear. And so you could experience you know, shock and numbness and yearning and searching at the same time. Or it could be that you're at the reorganization and resolution stage where you're ready for the next chapter. But all of a sudden, something might send you back to shock and numbness again, right. And it takes time. It takes time, after you've invested in yourself and reflected and reframe the situation takes time to do all of that. Before you can actually say you know I've I've moved on. Right? So it's, it's important to keep that in mind. So first thing to keep in mind is that there's going to be stages of grief that are very similar to what victims of bullying face. Okay? The second thing, second tool, okay, that I want to offer you is to allow yourself a lot of time and space to grieve and to process. Just let yourself feel that pain. You know, let yourself spend a lot of time processing the situation. And I think that if you're a type a loyalist that inclination and you're like me, is you want to jump to find the next job. You want to line something up. You want to get your resume out there. You want to talk to recruiters, you want to network, you want to fill up your calendar, right just so you can get back to that routine, you know, of having a job, you know, and I think that's very common, but it's a mistake. It's a
mistake because something major a major change has happened in your life. And it's also not just merely a change in a job, or career, but it's also in your identity, right, so many of us are bound by identity to our jobs or our title or position. You know, and it also tends to define so much of our self worth, right. You know, I'm the vice president of this company, you know, it's, it's something that you might have relied upon as a crutch, you've used to feel better about yourself for so long, right? And so when you don't have that title anymore, you don't have that crutch, what happens? What happens, right, you have to basically, find who you are, again, from scratch, build yourself from the ground up. And so that takes a lot of time. And it takes time to process. And it takes time to also feel your feelings, you know, aside from anger, right, but the other kind of emotions that come from the event like sadness, like grief, you know, like ambivalence, right.
So, sometimes it also is about processing the betrayal. Because if you've been let go, without even knowing that this was going to happen, and you have been performing well, it can seem like betrayal, you know, your boss might have been commending you on your excellent performance. And then three weeks later turns around a fires you, that's betrayal that's lying to your face. And in some cases, your staff or colleagues might have even known before you did. And that can feel utterly humiliating, especially if you were in management level, right? And they went around you and told people, this is not uncommon, right? And what I love about reading all the stories in the book, and also just what I've, what I've experienced talking to people who work in the corporate, academic or nonprofit sectors, because, you know, politics plays such a big role, right? Politics is really about human relationships. And a lot of those politics dictate whether you get fired or you stay in a particular position, right. And so, it is commonplace, to have an experience and experience these betrayals, you know, when you've been let go.
And so I think that firing,
oftentimes, is done in a undignified and inhumane way. Right? And that just compounds, this feeling of sadness and anger and being feeling betrayed, right? I think about the movie up in there, which my husband I love to watch. And in the movie, George Clooney, his character is the person who is the companies have outsourced to fire people and give them the severance packages. And it's just spot on how the movie portrays how companies view employees, right? It's really the bottom line, you know, and if you say, Oh, I'm, but I love where I work. And we're like a family? Well, I want to say, I really want to call BS on that. Because I think, you know, 99% of organizations and corporations out there are after the bottom line, and if they ran out of budget, right, they would
let you go, right, and family wouldn't do that. I mean, your loved ones that care about you would not do that to you. Right. Whereas employers wouldn't give a second thought, even if they might say they're like family, right. So that doesn't mean that you can't form close relationships with people at work. And I'm going to talk about that in my later tools.
But for now, just remember that, you know, the firing process can be super brutal, and that you just need to give yourself time to grieve and to process.
And if that means not getting out of bed for some time, that means watching some movies. That means also just, you know, having coffee with a friend that you never had time for, you know, or doing ceramics or some sort of hobby that you've never had time for. Right now is the time now you have time to do that. So part of that process.
The grieving process is to do things that are
outside your work outside your job, and outside of
making you feel shame, right? And so for for being fired or identifying with your work, right. And so what I want to say is, give yourself space to breathe. I know for myself, I was so desperately seeking my next job. I had so much shame I do want people to know I've been fired, you know, and I was worried about this resume gap. And so I was trying to align things
up right away, and I was just miserable and frantic. And so the energy I was having was just like a frantic energy, right? And that's because I wasn't giving myself time to grieve and process. And so I want to say, allow yourself, that's the best gift you can give yourself. Now along with the second tool, but giving yourself time to process, you might ask, What about bills, I've got bills to pay. So part of your work is to see this as a journey to growth and healing. And so yes, you have bills to pay, but you don't want to apply the same mindset that you had at your last job. And when you're feeling unworthy and bad about yourself, to look for your next gig. So the third tool, I propose is to be creative, and resourceful, and consider something totally different and temporary, from what you're used to. So that means if you're used to afford full time, a full time corporate job for 10 years, then maybe you should try something totally different than might include getting a part time job, or you might consult or do a temp job for a while. The third tool is to consider something different and see this, this part as a liminal phase, you're not quite departed with the old, you're not quite ready for the new and that's okay, you're right where you need to be, you need to give yourself time. And you need to be in this liminal space, even if that means cobbling together a couple part time jobs, or going back to school, if that's possible, or you've saved, you know, some money, giving yourself several months just to grieve and just to be, you know, or finding a job that, you know, is temporary and totally different, just pays the bills, I had a client who reached back to former colleagues, and they found her a consulting gig for to hold over for a few months, until she found the next consulting gig. And so in the meantime, she let herself she had room to feel sad and to grieve. And also just not to jump into something right away that would allow her to shut off her emotions just deny the event that had happened to her the major change that had happened to her right. So the fourth tool now that's the third tool. Fourth tool is is the discovery phase. Allow your site, allow yourself time to discover more about yourself, and about what you want in life. So the defining question to ask is what kind of life? You know, what kind of life do I want to live? In this next chapter, if you are given a chance to return to your job what you do it? It's not like the movies where you you know, I think that in movies, people always make up or go back to their exes or their old jobs, even though they were totally mistreated, and abused, or gaslighted, right? Really makes me so mad sometimes. And you're watching, it's like, wow, they did not treat that person, right. You know, movies are sometimes seeking ways to make a happy ending, right to forge a happy ending, and wanting wanting people to make up and the main character to return in some in some way to the past. But this fourth tool is totally not about that. It is this discovery phase where you are not focused on the past. And you actually are focused on the future, like what do you want in the future? And that includes not just what job, it's not about the job? It's about what kind of life you want? How do you want to spend your time? Who do you want to surround yourself with? What are you interested in, like mission and values? Right? And
I think one of the main support systems you can draw upon is, is working with a coach or a therapist, you know, if you work with me, I would help you gain clarity on the situation, you know, and, you know, what you want to find out is if I had to do over, and I was intentional about my life, would I even choose the same job again, with the same boss and the same working environment, and lifestyle and hours and stress. And by the way, these moments of clarity may come after grieving parts process, or maybe even during right, it's it's hard to say, but keep in mind, that it may not come right away. It's part of this whole reflection grieving process and discovering more about yourself.
I'm offering you to question to probe and reframe getting fired as a way to discover more of your desires, and what you want in this next chapter. And also gives you a strong sense of control. Because after you've been fired, you feel like a victim, like this event was done to you this change was imposed upon you. When you think about it, barring the shame that comes from being fired. So many people there to be truthful with themselves probably had a gut feeling that it would happen, you know, or they had a sense that they really didn't even like their jobs, and hadn't been interested in for a long time where they knew they wanted something more that suited them, you know, but they just kept going. Right? And so really, the firing event for many people is just that eye opening like wow, and
way, it's a relief, because it gave them a chance to actually embark and try something new and different, right. And this discovery phase is your chance to get off a train that just keeps going and going and reflect, and do some research as well. And this gets me to my fifth tool, which is to assemble your power squad of people who have your back, and whom you trust, and who are rooting for you.
Right, so do that discovery phase. But you know, during that phase, it should also lead you to mentors, and people whose lives you want to emulate. You know, think of people whose lives you admire, and not just jobs, I'm talking about holistically this person, you know, their family, and how they treat people what kind of life they have, outside of their job, right. For me, it's, it's all this holistic who you are as a person, right. And so for me, women I admire are people who have gone through so much in their lives, you know, including getting fired or going bankrupt, or, you know, things that happen lawsuits that happen to them, but they always bounce back. And they do it with such grace and fortitude, intelligence. And sometimes bouncing back looks differently than what we're used to. Sometimes bouncing back isn't just getting that next job, or trying to make more money, right, it could just look like being there for your kids, it could look like redefining your mission statement is starting a new business. For you and your family, it could look like so many different things, right? We have to each define that for ourselves. But as you're in this discovery phase, and you're assembling your power squad, which is this fifth tool, is think of the women you admire, and whose lives you admired, who has person you admire, and go talk to them, you know, interview them, get them on Zoom, you know, invite them out for coffee, if that's possible, read their books, you know, and I know Michelle Obama, in her book becoming talks about the value of just interviewing people, right, she was doing a career change from law to nonprofit, and she interviewed everyone she knew about the nonprofit sector, and specifically the kind of job she wanted. And she want to know how to get her foot in the door. And if this is the kind of job she could do, and the kind of it would support the kind of lifestyle she wanted, while raising her daughters, right. So I think that's so important as you're assembling your squad, is to make a list and write down who you admire, and go reach out and talk to them and take this time to just do that this is after you've, you know, gone through the grief. Or maybe you've, you know, you've you've done some things that really show self care, but then you also just want to go and talk to people not job related, but life related, right. So I also think this is a good time as you're assembling your power squad, to get together with your best friends and friends, people whom you've known outside of work, and that you connected with, and who root for you. Right and so important to have that you know, to have this squad of people who want what's best for you and just love you for who you are.
So now, on the flip side of this, I would agree with Murrell she writes about this in her book is on the flip side of this, I would advise against contacting your staff, or people who worked at the same place where you had gotten fired or laid off or had a negative situation. At that workplace, I would advise against contacting people for the very reasons that for one thing, they're probably fearful for their jobs. And so the chances of them projecting that fear onto you and blaming you or gossiping or, or just doing things that are toxic, is pretty high. So on a scale of one to 10 for toxicity, the interaction would likely be high like a nine, right? So I would definitely avoid that right now you got to draw some boundaries. Similarly for HR folks. They aren't your friends, you know, so they may come off as empathetic and open. But, you know, they work for the organization and company. And they work for senior management. So they aren't really looking out for your best interest. Right? Even if they wanted to, they couldn't because that's their job is to look out for the best interests of the company. And the bottom line, right. So in this fifth tool, you're assembling your power squad of people you're going out meeting people, or you know, contacting them on Zoom or calling them and you're reaching out to also your power squad people who have been there for you for a long time and that you trust them and they're comfortable with themselves and they're not fearful
that they're going to lose their jobs by talking to you. So this is your power squad of people like your cheerleaders, you know, and when you assemble them make sure to keep them in your in your loop in your circle you know start a snap
chatter group text and send encouraging notes to each other, you know, there's anything negative or toxic or drama related, simply be resolved to remove it from your life. Right? This is all part of that, you know, second tool that I just gave you, which is to properly grieve, right you part of the process in properly grieving is to protect yourself and draw boundaries around you by removing any drama or negativity from your life right now. Right? This is essential, before we even get to the mindset work, you know, and notice that all five of these tools I'm offering for you, in this episode, we're still somewhat in the first three stages of shock and yearning and searching and disorganization, right? We haven't really even reached, you know, beyond that resolution stage, you know. So, alright, so just to recap, right, the five tools, the first five, I'm telling you, first one is recognizing that there's going to be stages of grief, and it's not Kubler Ross definition Coober Ross's definition, but it's what victims of bullying, go through because there is so much workplace bullying. And if you were fired in a way, that's very undignified, which many people have been, then it's more similar to victims of bullying, right to what they face. So that's the first tool to recognize second thing, second tool to recognize is to give yourself a lot of time and space to grieve and to process your emotions and what you're feeling. Okay. And then the third tool is to give yourself
this, give yourself the ability to be creative, and resourceful about what comes next. And it might be something totally different and temporary, than what you're used to. Okay, so be open to that be open to what's different. That's the third tool. The fourth tool is discover. Give yourself this discovery phase, it's time to discover more about yourself, and about what you want in life. Okay. And then thought of the fifth tool Finally, for this episode, is assemble your power squad of people who have your back and whom you trust and who are rooting for you and get out there and connect with them. Okay, so these five tools are so essential just for getting you through this shock and numbness and yearning and searching and disorganization and disorientation phases. In the next episode, part two, I am going to cover all about mindset and also tools that are going to help you in your journey to healing and growth and also what resilience looks like in this process and it's not what you think. So I'm going to go over all of that in part two. Thank you so much for tuning in. I will talk to you next time.