I Lost My Job A Year Ago Today: Here’s What I’ve Learned Since Then

firedThis time last year I really thought I had figured it all out.

For years, I had hustled to create opportunities for myself and the work was finally starting  to pay off.

You see, when I was a music student, I realized that I was interested in a lot of different things beyond music and was hell-bent on pursuing those interests in addition to my music activities.

At the end of the summer of 2015, I just started to really “make it”.

About two and a half years prior to this, I had started my first full-time marketing job as an intern and had worked my way up to the role of marketing manager.

In addition to my full-time job, I was freelancing more than ever before. I had great teaching opportunities, and I had really started to build my consulting business on the side of everything else.

It all seemed great and I felt like I was doing what I was meant to do.

Well, this was all fine and dandy until one Friday morning, I got to work before the majority of the office and was called into my boss’s office.

Honestly, I didn’t think anything of it and walked in with a pad of paper ready to take notes on whatever it was that the boss needed me to do.

Well, it turns out that I didn’t need the pad.

I was told to sit down, and then I heard the last thing I was expecting to hear when I woke up that morning.

“As of today, your position no longer exists at this organization and we are letting you go.”

I was shocked.

This was seriously the last thing I was expecting to hear at the time.

After a few minutes of just sitting in disbelief, I took a walk around the block to compose myself before returning  to sneak out of the office in shame.

I was home by 11am that day and have never been back to that office.

So here’s the thing, it would be really easy to sit here and write about how unfair life is and how I was right and they were wrong, but that would be a total waste of time.

The truth is that I was absolutely miserable working there and everyone knew it.

I spent months kidding myself about how I needed to stay, and ignoring how absolutely destructive my mental state was for the final  six months that I worked there.

Anyone who  spent more than  a few minutes around me during that time could probably tell you how miserable I was, but for someone reason, I just couldn’t see it.

Instead of pointing fingers and casting blame, I want to talk about the lessons I have learned since then.

Losing my job, as painful as it was, was easily one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

I believe everything that happens is an opportunity to learn and that’s what I want to focus on.

For the last year I have been working for myself, doing marketing consulting work, freelancing, and have had an amazing time doing it.

I have even been working on a book for the last few months that is scheduled to come out this fall.

It’s been really amazing, and I have learned a lot from the experience that I want to pass on to anyone who reads this in the hopes that it can help them avoid some of the mistakes that I made.

I probably should’ve been let go sooner

This is a hard one to own up to.

If you have ever worked in a job that was just totally a wrong fit then you might relate to this.

One of the worst characteristics a co-worker can have is being overly negative and having a bad attitude.

Unfortunately, that was me.

I had a real sense of entitlement about what I thought that I deserved.

The truth is that it was total bullshit.

This unflattering attitude developed very slowly and unintentionally over time until one day it finally caught up to me.

Not being a team player and having a sense of entitlement to anything is an awful combination for a colleague, and it’s because I can now look back and recognize the flaws in my past behavior that I think I probably should’ve been let go sooner.

It would have been better for me and it would have been better for the company.

“If you think you are indispensable, you never are.”

Mark Cuban recently dropped this line in an interview with Chase Jarvis on CreativeLive and it totally hit home for me.

I used to think that I was so important and that nobody else could do the job I was doing.

In fact, I prided myself on how stressed out I felt  because I thought that meant that I was important.

Of course, looking back, I can see how blatantly wrong I was.

There were many occasions where I would think out loud to my friends, family, and even co-workers (how embarrassing), about how important I thought I was.

Looking back at myself a year later, I am really glad that I woke up to this.

Everyone is replaceable so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the world can’t live without you.

When your job is a source of unhappiness in your life, you should leave

Just like everything else in this post, it’s so obvious to me when I look back and reflect, but this was probably the thing that did the most damage in my life.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was absolutely miserable for the last six months or so that I worked at that job .

My mentor, colleague, and friend, Charlie Hoehn, wrote about removing your emotional anchors and avoiding what he calls “vampires” in his book Play it Away.

Anchors are basically the sources of stress in your life and vampires are the people who drain your energy when you’re around them.

Unfortunately, my job introduced both of those items into my life on a day-to-day basis.

No job is worth ruining your mental health for.

If you are experiencing something similar in your life, I think the best thing you could possibly do is to get rid of those anchors as fast as possible.

You will be much happier, trust me.

Surround yourself with great people

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

I don’t know where that originally came from, but I hear Tim Ferriss say it a lot and I have found it to be amazingly powerful.

The people you associate with the most have an enormous impact on your life so you should make them count.

For a long time, I didn’t know anyone who shared my passion for entrepreneurship and it was incredibly frustrating.

You spend a lot of time around your co-workers, so try to make sure they’re the people you want to be like.

If not, start searching looking for ways to remedy that.

In my case, I started working with Charlie Hoehn as a coach to help me work through the material of his course a few weeks after losing my job.

Since then, he has even hired me to work for him on a few projects.

I also joined a design course taught by David Kadavy that has monthly calls that give me the opportunity to meet and learn from others with similar interests.

The most recent effort here was to work with a writing coach named Azul Terronez and his mastermind group of other writers.

All of these groups meet online and have provided me an amazing support system for various areas of my life.

Take action on good advice

I am unbelievably lucky to have had a ton of people offer to help when I found myself without a job.

But there’s one thing that I learned very quickly: not all advice is created equal.

Everyone has their own opinions and views, and whether it is intentional or not, this  inherently comes through in the types of advice they pass along to you.

Take the advice of the people whom you have a ton of respect for and implement it.

It doesn’t matter if you just heard somebody say it in an interview online, what matters is that you take action on that good advice.

If you follow everyone’s advice, you’ll find yourself running around in circles and wasting a ton of time with a bunch of conflicting ideas.

Of course, there’s no need to turn people down when they offer you advice, just say “OK, thanks for sharing.  I’ll keep that in mind.” and move on.

I actually stopped reading business books because I found that I wasn’t doing anything with 90% of what I was learning about.

Find advice and a perspective that resonates with you and double down on implementing it in your life.

Your job and salary don’t define your value as a person

I remember reading this year ago in an article by Ryan Holiday, and like many things, I never understood it until I was the victim of that mindset.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the high of feeling important in your job and using the amount of money and responsibility associated with your position as a benchmark of your personal value.

This is embarrassing to admit, but I used to love telling people that I was a “marketing manager”.

The title sounded so official, and for someone with a music degree who  basically taught themselves everything they knew about marketing by reading books, it felt like such a great  accomplishment.

Not to say that it wasn’t, because I’m still proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish, but the point is that your value as a person should be measured in a much broader sense that goes way beyond what you do 9-5.

I learned this lesson the hard way, because I was crushed when I lost my job.

It felt like a piece of myself had been stolen, but I soon realized that it was for the best because it freed me up to live my life in a much more fulfilling way.

These days, I get to work from home on my own projects, do consulting work for people whose work I like, occasionally get to speak about my experiences, play with my dog at the dog park everyday, and so much more.

None of that would be possible if I hadn’t lost my job and learned these lessons along the way.

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