Laid Off — 4 AM conversations

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Dec 14

Even though one is a Cubicle Warrior and totally prepared for the layoff…the emotions don’t seem to want to follow along. Sure, intellectually, you know what is happening, you know why it is happening, and perhaps you are even glad you are getting laid off. Intellectually, you are ready.

And then you put your glasses in the freezer and wonder how they got there after searching for them for an hour, wondering why you would think to look in the freezer for them.

The emotions of the perfectly prepared layoff simply don’t want to follow the script.

But, that’s OK.

When Kate and I woke up at 4 AM the morning after we were laid off and couldn’t sleep, we got up. We talked. Then I did what GTD followers (of which I am one) do: I did a mind sweep. Write everything down that was on your mind. Get it on paper. Don’t worry about processing it; just get it out of your head and onto a piece of paper.

Mine were all about things that I needed to do and then write about here on Cube Rules. Once I wrote them down, I went back to bed and slept like a baby.

For three days, the emotional aspect of being laid off meant that I really couldn’t get a lot accomplished — too much input from layoff benefit meetings, dealing with the extended family, figuring out all the things that needed to get done — so all I was able to do was write down what was going on in my head, put it in my in-basket, and wait until I was ready to deal with all of it.

A new journey begins was that day. And I have a lot of notes!

In any emotionally charged change, expect that, even if you are well prepared, you will need to simply write down what is going on in your head and process it all later. So write it all down. You’ll be glad you did.

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  • Scot Herrick says:

    @Reality Check – A couple of things.

    First, the reason to write everything down and get it out of your head has nothing to do with finding another job. It has to do with getting what is bothering you on paper so you can objectively look at it and decide what to do with it. It’s psychological. As long as all that stuff stays swirling around in your head, you won’t help your emotional state to the point where you can move forward.

    Second, finding positions, regardless of age, is always a challenge. Twenty-eight year olds have families too. The emotional aspects are the same.

    At higher levels of an organization, it’s going to take a lot longer to find a position because not as many are available (which is why I recommend a year’s worth of take home pay in the bank).

    Hiring managers are not looking for maturity, experience or wisdom; they are looking for people with the right skills to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. If people, regardless of age, don’t keep up with job and technology skills, they will fall behind. That is the reality.

    At higher levels of income, it is necessary to show that we’re worth the extra cost. That comes from performance, attitude and energy — not longevity. Companies only have loyalty to profits and quarterly numbers.

    If reality is that senior employees are the first to go, then we as Cubicle Warriors need to work on knowing why we’re worth the cost and show it in our work. That may not work all of the time, but I don’t much like the alternatives.

    I’ve been at the six-figure salary, director level positions, at an older age and I can assure you, my career is nowhere near over.

  • Reality Check says:

    When you are 28 and you get laid off, you gather yourself, get organized and get another job. No prob. It sucks, but you’ve done it before and you can do it again. But what if you are 51, six-figure salary, been with the company for years and at the department director level? If you are laid off at this age, your career is over. Finding a similar position at the required salary is simply impossible. In our youth-oriented society, maturity, experience and wisdom are no longer valued (or did you think there was another reason why a 32 year old could become vice president?). Senior employees always live in fear for their jobs. Oh, they’re usually the best, most dependable and most productive employees a company has, but when it’s time to cut back, the most senior and highly compensated empoyees go first. It makes no difference that they have families to support. There years of servie: atta boy; thats a lot! After all, the company can hire a 35 year old to do the job for half the cost. No amount of writing down everything in your head is going to change a thing. Reality is what it is. Such is the nature of the Cube Nation.

  • Scot Herrick says:

    Thanks, Andrew. It is very interesting to me how much of what I have written is now coming to pass and then integrating with all of these other disciplines (like GTD) that I have been paying attention to over the last couple of years.

    It really is going to be a great journey.

  • Wow, Scot, sounds like you mean action!

    This is a great tip and I can’t wait to hear more.


  • Scot Herrick says:

    Thanks, Wendy. The deal is, there is a lot that people can learn from my experience. And, if you think about it, this blog is all about maximizing a Cubicle Warrior’s job skills, performance and opportunities while minimizing the chance of being laid off in the process.

    It’s really much trickier than it used to be given the change in business, focus on quarterly earnings, corporate churn and globalization (no matter where you are on the globe…).

    So this is also a good test. I’m looking forward to it.

    Thanks so much for the comment; it is really appreciated.

  • Wendy says:

    As one of your many subscribers (and of course fellow blogger), I read your posts just about every day. Wow. I am so sorry to hear about your layoff. It must be a very challenging time — especially given that both you and your wife were with the same employer.

    It is very courageous of you to share what you are going through with your readers. I’ll be letting my readers know about your current situation as many of them will strongly relate. Keep on posting. Your writing, suggestions and observations are always very, very good and I think a lot of people learn from you.

    Your fan,


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