It’s OK To Admit You Were Laid Off: Just Get Motivated!

There’s no coincidence that the lifestyle design movement took off just as the economic downturn started picking up steam in the sumer of 2008. Those were some of the scariest times I’ve ever experienced, apart from when two planes hit the Twin Towers in NYC.  I vividly remember seeing the markets tumble by 5% a day on news that Lehman Brothers was not going to be rescued.  I had a friend at Lehman Brothers at the time say to me, “Why them (as in Bear Sterns) and not us?”  Who knows the whims of the government.

The youth of America were getting let go left and right and unemployment rates soared to above 50% for those within three to five years out of college.  Companies across all industries cut down excess and made the “survivors” do more with less pay.  I was one of the “survivors”, and that time period stunk to high heaven given: 1) We lived in fear that everyday we’d be next to lose our jobs, 2) Our friends and family were losing their jobs, 3) Managers always looked stressed and in despair, and 4) No matter what you invested in, everything was losing value.

The Empowered Generation

Truth be told, I had to lay some people off myself, and it was an incredibly depressing thing to do.  You never want to be put in a position to hurt anybody.  My co-manager and I were mandated from superiors above to let go of a percentage of our staff.  The problem was, we liked everybody working in the department at the time, and nobody was a bad performer.  Despite our feelings though, we still had to choose the relative worst performers.

The 2008-2009 downturn was a two sigma event that hopefully will never happen again.  If there ever was a time when there was no shame at being let go, that was the time.  Departments were closing and whole companies were shutting down.  It was impossible not to know of someone who got let go.  We all felt scared.

Different Paths

Some people decided to go to graduate school to wait out the storm.  As a result, business school applications surged by 30% YoY for two consecutive years.  Not a bad move if you could get into a great school and focus on studying something you like.  Not such a good move if you spent a fortune to attend a low ranked school, didn’t know what you wanted to do, came out with debt, and settled on a job you didn’t particularly like.

Then there are those who started blogs, like this one for those who wanted to take control of their own destiny.  We refused to let the economy bring us down.  Instead, we took the initiative to write online and connect with other like-minded individuals.  We wrote books, created products, traveled the world.  We used this time to nurture our creative abilities like never before!

We are the Untemplaters who decided to wait for no one.  There are some of us who were let go from our jobs through no fault of our own.  So be it!  There’s no shame in admitting an employment defeat.  Instead, we should harness the rejection to motivate us to do greater things.

We know that the internet has allowed us to live lifestyles that would be out of reach just 15 years ago.  We realize that sitting at a 9-to-5 job is a product of the 20th century.  There’s really no need to have a traditional day job if you don’t want to.  Now has never been a better time to start something of our own.

Don’t Be Afraid To Admit Defeat And Pursue Bigger And Better Things

Ever since the downturn, I’ve told myself to stop relying 100% on someone else’s corporation to live my life.  There’s no such thing as rock solid job security anymore, and the only destiny we can control is our own.  It’s important to expect the unexpected and find ways to diversify your income so that you aren’t left stranded if something bad happens.

Hopefully we’ll feature more and more entrepreneurial stories of people who decided to make it on their own.  From Ariana at Giggle Gourmet, who relocated from the US to Sydney, Australia for a finance job she later quit, to Mindy from Jade Chocolates, who started her company after splitting with her husband while pregnant, anything is possible!

If you have an entrepreneurial story you’d like to share on Untemplater, we’d love to hear from you through our Contact page.

Untemplaters, why do you think people aren’t willing to admit they were laid off?  If you’ve been laid off, what are the things you’ve done to better yourself since?

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Hi there, I’m Sydney! After ten crazy years, I left a grueling six-figure job in 2015 for a better life. Now I spend my days writing, freelancing in various capacities, and finding new ways to stretch my brain. I’m crazy about photography, traveling the world, and stopping to smell the roses. Untemplater is where I share my insights and adventures with the world. I hope to never stop learning and being able to give back - every day is a gift! My love of helping people improve their lifestyles, careers, wealth and happiness constantly motivate me to write and evolve. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you in the comments below!

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    • Sydney says

      Yeah it was nerve wracking for what felt like ages not knowing who was going to be let go next. It made me get very serious about budgeting and cutting out all unnecessary spending. I’ve eased up some since then, like paying for healthier lunches that cost more than the super frugal PB&j, but I don’t feel that bad about spending a little extra now for nutrition. I try to remind myself regularly of how diligent I was in the downturn about watching my money to help keep me motivated to save.

  1. says

    You’ve got it spot on Sydney! The under 25 crowd was getting blown out of the water back in 2008-2009. Inevitably, many of them became “lifestyle designers” and minimalists. There was no admission of getting fired, just that they were living life on their own terms. It’s very misleading.

    The ones who are open with their situation are the most admirable, and the people I want to root for the most!

    The great equalizer is to just highlight your lifestyle design income. If you’re living at home, making poverty level operating income, then forget about it.

    I’m glad people are doing something about their situation, rather than nothing. Just be open if you got blown up in the recession.


    • Sydney says

      People definitely got creative and found ways to make their own money when corporations stopped paying and employing a full work force. I don’t know anyone who actually voluntarily quit their job during that time to have a career change because there were just no jobs to get hired for and people weren’t spending any money so things really dried up. There’s nothing to be ashamed about for getting laid off. I think some people are afraid of other people’s perceptions of themselves regarding being let go.

      • says

        The most ironic thing is, those MBA graduates I interview now are all looked at more closely, b/c they were the ones laid off and had to go to b-school during the downturn.

        It makes me cringe when I hear interviewee candidates say bullshit answers as to why they left their firms in the downturn. If they all came out and honestly said they were let go, I would TOTALLY be empathetic and supportive. To say otherwise is like lying and they are out.

  2. Rachel says

    I got blown up in 2009. I can relate to your friend who asked why they let his company burn and saved another. That was my situation exactly. Pretty sure the company I was with no longer exists on any front but memory. Admitting to being laid off then wasn’t hard to do, but it’s a bit harder when it’s not “everyone” who’s getting laid off. Starting over once again after what essentially boils down to a lay off is some serious bs. The problem with keeping it to yourself is that it doesn’t allow you to network. I’m seriously hoping that since this time everyone I know wasn’t just laid off too, I can use that to pick up something else.

    • Sydney says

      I worked for a company myself at a different time in my career that ended up closing down. It’s weird to think about it not existing anymore. Trying to find work when competing against all of one’s former colleagues due to do a mass layoff is one stressful experience. Being amongst a smaller pool of candidates with different work experience definitely makes it easier to get yourself to stand out and make a more memorable impression on hiring teams.

  3. Melissa@PersonalFinanceJourney says

    I love reading the success stories such as Jade Chocolates. They are inspiring, and I look forward to reading more of them. For many of these people, it seems that being laid off was the best career move!

    • Sydney says

      Thanks Melissa! Yeah sometimes the unexpected can give us a surprising amount of motivation and lots of incentives to take leaps of faith and find creative ways to bring our dreams to life and get in control of our own careers and income streams.

    • Sydney says

      I think so too. Companies have had to evolve a lot in the last several years with all the changes going on in the economy here and all over the globe. It’s good to see some companies starting to hire again and hopefully the recovery will continue.

  4. says

    That’s right, Sydney, having to lay off well-liked co-workers is a big bag of suck. We can rationalize and say it’s only business, but when the tears flow there’s no getting away from emotion.

    • Sydney says

      Oh man. When the water works start running, it’s gut wrenching. It’s definitely a big back of suck, well put. Not easy for anyone to go through.

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