Five ways to move forward after being fired

Struggling to come to terms with and recover from being fired? Here are five ways you can move forward with positivity.

Losing your job is a tough blow to take. In one fell swoop you’ve lost your income, and taken a hit on your self-esteem to boot.

So how can you recover from being fired? And not just recover, but thrive – put one foot in front of the other and turn this situation into a positive?

Five ways to move forward after being fired

As hard as this may seem when you’re reeling from the news, it is possible. Here are five tips to help you move forward.

1) Give yourself time to adjust

There’s no getting around it: being fired is horrible. Not only is it not pleasant being told you are no longer needed or wanted, but (especially if it comes out of the blue) it’s a big life change you’re not prepared for.

You’ve lost your salary, your daily routine, your workplace, your colleagues and your status. And this can take some getting used to.

So allow yourself a short period of time to lick your wounds. To mourn the loss of your job, curse the unfairness of the decision, and generally feel sorry for yourself.

But please do note the use of the word ‘short’! Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of wallowing. Yes it may be unfair, but it’s happened, so at some point you need to stop looking back and start looking forward instead – and begin making a plan of action.

2) Look for the positives 

But first there’s one important thing you need to do – find a way to reframe what has happened as a positive. You’ll find it much easier to move forward with confidence if you can find positives in your situation and build upon them.

And there will always be positives somewhere if you look hard enough. (Don’t believe us? Watch Dan Gilbert’s brilliant TED talk on the science of happiness.)

To help you reframe your firing as a gift, let’s look at some potential positives you can draw on:

  • You didn’t like your job/boss/colleagues anyway and are grateful for getting a push to look for something more rewarding.
  • You’ve been toying with the idea of starting a business/going freelance and this has given you the perfect opportunity to go for it.
  • You were beginning to feel stuck in your role but were too comfortable to move on. Now you have no excuse to put it off!
  • Your life felt out of kilter before and you were struggling to keep everyone happy. Now you can start afresh and build a better work-life balance.
  • Your mental health wasn’t being nurtured in your previous role, and this has rescued you from a potentially damaging situation.

So, rather than dwell on what you’ve lost, with a quick switch in thinking you can instead focus on what you’ve now gained (even if it’s happened ‘to’ you rather than by personal design) and move forward with optimism and energy.

3) Reflect on why you were fired

There’s one other thing you need to do before you push forward with a plan for your next move. And that’s reflect on why you were fired.

Whether your firing was justified or unfair it’s important to understand why it happened. If it was just one of those things that was out of your control (the company may have been cutting back, or you were illegally discriminated against, for example) then you you need to find a way to come to terms with it and emotionally move on.

But if there were genuine reasons for your firing, it’s helpful to consider them so you don’t end up in the same position again.

Maybe your heart wasn’t really in your role, or even your industry as a whole, any more. Perhaps the restrictions of a full time role didn’t work for you. Or it could be that you’ve fallen out of love with employment as a whole and are ready to work for yourself.

Or maybe you need to work on areas of your performance, plug skills or knowledge gaps with training, or work on your interpersonal skills.

To help you get to the bottom of ‘why’, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What caused the firing?
  • Was it my fault?
  • Could I have prevented the situation?
  • What lessons have I learned?
  • What can I do to avoid similar situations in future?

As painful as it can be, it’s essential for your future happiness and success that you face up to what happened honestly (without self-recrimination) and take positive steps to ensure you don’t end up in that position again.

4) Devise a plan

Then, when you’re ready, start devising a plan of action to help you move forward. Work out what your next path should be, what goal you’re working towards, and what steps you need to take to get there.

Here are some resources to help you:

5) Reach out to your old boss and colleagues

As painful and sudden your firing may have been, if possible, once you’ve come to terms with what happened, reach out to your old boss and colleagues (unless of course your firing was too personal or illegal, or your old workplace toxic).

Not only is life too short to hold grudges (we love the saying,“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”) but you have a great deal to gain from mending bridges.

Showing that there’s no hard feelings enables you to regain some sense of control and ownership over what happened. And, on a more basic level, you can gain professionally by keeping former colleagues and bosses as allies. There may come a time when you need a recommendation or referral from them. And who knows, they may even need your services in the future?

And above everything else, doesn’t it feel much nicer to have warm relationships with people, and have them think well of you? If you can part on good terms, everyone wins.

Brandon Grondwrint, recruitment consultant and co-founder of ResumesArea. Has been working in this field for more than ten years and providing consulting services to those, who need assistance after being fired. Follow him on Twitter.