Getting fired isn't always the end of the world, even if you think it's supposed to feel like it. In fact, sometimes getting fired just means relief from a job you didn't love — and maybe even a nice severance package to keep you afloat while you look for a job that does fulfill you.
If you've been fired or think you may be on your way out any day now, and you're not quite sure how you feel about your situation, you're not alone. We talked to nine women who say that being fired was actually the best thing to ever happen to them.
"I got fired twice which made for a good joke about how I was milking severance packages," says Lisa. "I got fired from my faculty position for working outside of my contract... Immediately after being fired from my faculty position I went to work for a 'friend' at his ad agency; it was the worst and most toxic environment I have ever been in, and I hated every minute of it, but would have never had the courage to just quit and do my own thing. Be fired forced me to take the leap... Now it is awesome because I run my own two businesses, and I am able to structure my time as it fits my lifestyle. I am always the one to take my kids to school and to pick them up, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I work hard, but I set my own schedule, I'm making more than I ever have, and I am having fun doing it."
"Being fired got me off the dime; I was miserable in my well-paying job but couldn’t give up the money/prestige," says Debra Benton. "My boss surprised me with the termination saying I was good as what I do but I didn’t get along well with the good ole boys. Made me so mad I decided to do research on how to get along with the good ole boys. I spent the next months interviewing as many C-level executives as possible and asked how to do it. The information resulted in my first book, Lions Don’t Need to Roar (Warner Books) and the start of my own company teaching executive effectiveness. That started my 35+ year career. One day I ran into that boss and thanked him. Later, he sent one of his people to me for executive coaching."
"First job out of college was at AOL in the newsroom in the mid-90s, when AOL was the internet: Best job ever... till I got laid off with 250 other employees one morning," says Peter Shankman, who founded Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and later sold it. "I went back to NYC, and I started my own PR firm with no experience. I sold it three years later. Consulted. Eventually launched HARO. Sold that in 2010. Changed my life. All because I got laid off at AOL... I never would have done it had I not gotten laid off. BEST. THING. EVER."
"In June of 2018, I got the feeling that the startup company I'd worked for remotely over three years was having financial difficulties, so it wasn't surprising that since I made well over six figures, I'd likely be on the shortlist of those next to head out the virtual door," says Patsy Robbins. "Oddly enough, my now fiancé was planning for his summer retirement. He had a doctor visit that day on the suspicion that his diagnosis would be cancer. It was cancer and indeed I was let go that same day."
Regardless of the double bad news, Robbins says that, by that Sunday night, she was the happiest person she'd been in a long time.
"I finally had the time to spend with my fiancé during the best years of his life, as I had many weeks of unemployment coming," she says. "I left on really good terms, so the company kept my insurance going for an additional month while I got on my partner's insurance, and they offered me my computer. My unemployment checks lasted until December. And on the week the final check came, a friend asked me to work under a part-time contract with her company remotely. By then, I knew exactly to the penny how much I needed to make minus taxes so that I never had to touch my retirement. She offered me that amount and it has been a win-win for the company, for my work life, and for my time with my fiancé. No more stress, no more travel for work, and I'm doing what I love with the guy I want to spend every hour with."
"I'm a woman who was fired from a company I owned with my ex," says Bobbie Lind, direct response strategist and persuasion copywriter.. "This, however, was the catalyst I needed to start my own thing. My (soon-to-be-ex) husband and I owned a company together. At least, the business was in both our names. I worked with him for nearly two years to help build the company. I was the CMO and he was the CEO. While we owned the company 50/50, he believed I worked for him. This difference ultimately led to him exploding one evening and firing me from the company. The explosion was indicative of much deeper issues between the two of us — and it has led to the breakdown of not only the original business, but my marriage, as well."
Lind was devastated. But thanks to some tough love and a push from some amazing friends, she says she decided to start her own company doing the parts of the job that she'd loved best.
"To date, my 'firing' has lead to an amazing six-figure business that allows me to work from wherever in the world I want to work," she says. "I've built my business around my family instead of my family around the business (which is how it used to be). My clients match my passions. I serve the business and products that I want and have a connection with. And I'm excited to see where each new project and client takes me."
"Getting fired was the BEST thing that could have happened to me; I was in a snoozefest of a comfortable accounting position at a credit union for six years, when my new boss, out of the blue, called me into her office, informed me of a 'restructure' and asked me to train my replacement," says Angela L Bowman of Sacred Plant Organics. "I declined and was escorted out of the building, all within 15 minutes. I remember feeling a sort of sense of relief, and that push beyond my comfort zone.
That moment was the catalyst for moving forward with the herbalism business she had been fostering and so desperately wanting to move forward with, she says.
"My business was an instant success, landing my brand in stores like Whole Foods and spas across the country," she goes on. "That was 12 years ago, and I couldn't be happier, doing what I love for a living. I've thought a few times about sending her flowers and thanking her for not liking me."
"In short, I dealt with a lot of gender bias and microaggressions working for tech startups," says Laura Khalil. "'You need to smile more,' being ignored in a meeting when a man would get praise for the same idea minutes later, 'You're intimidating the other men in the office,' etc. I was laid off in 2013 and decided enough was enough. I made my website in one weekend and launched my business as a freelance marketing consultant. In just six weeks, I landed a retainer contract with a Fortune 500 company. Six more weeks, same thing with a Fortune 5. I quickly grew a multi-six-figure business and was praised by my clients for the things that had me penalized in jobs."
"I remember vividly when I was once fired from the company that I was working for; ironically, it was the best thing that has happened to me," says Tina Bridge, a now self-employed esthetician and certified makeup artist with over a decade of experience in cosmetology working with internationally known cosmetic lines like Chanel and Christian Dior. "Well, it sucks, to be honest. I thought I was doing pretty well; I did everything that my employer asked me to do. But I was never acknowledged for my contributions and was eventually fired for a small mistake that I made. It was devastating, as I did not feel appreciated for my past efforts. It felt as if I'd wasted my years on a company that wasn’t appreciative.
When she was fired, she says it was demoralizing, as it not only hurt her pride, but she also lost my paycheck.
"Keeping that failure in mind, I moved on to a much better paying job with better welfare benefits," she says. "That was when I realized what I have been missing throughout the years. I grew and learned and, most importantly, I was being acknowledged for my achievements. I was very thankful for this opportunity. With those experiences, I came out and became a full-time self-employed esthetician. I have a team of my own now and am doing way better than before. Getting fired is not the end of the world; in fact, it is just the beginning of your success. Failing is a form of motivation. It pushes you to the edge and forces you to take flight."
"I was working a job I hated and made no money at handing out passes for free movie screenings; if people didn't show up, we didn't get paid — and that happened a lot, but, like all actors, I had to have a job that was flexible for auditions," says Julie of Creative Innovation Group.
One night, after her boss had already left, she got a call to be in a TV commercial for a phone company. She decided to call her boss first thing in the morning from the set to tell him that she wouldn't be in. They we're actually shooting a scene talking on the phone without sound, so it worked.
"He told me to pick up my last paycheck and that I was fired," she remembers. "Inside I was relieved, but it was a steady paycheck, and I was a little shocked at getting canned so quickly. I had to smile and pretend I was having a good conversation. It turned out to be the best thing that could happen to me. I couldn't find another job, so I started my own and have been my own boss ever since."
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.
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