Getting Fired: The Hardest Part Of Work

The SimpsonsGreetings all. Well, I got fired. I won't go into the details, but it was through no fault of my own. My boss and I simply had a logistical conflict… I'm allergic to dorks. Needless to say, I was fairly upset about getting fired. Despite all the other problems you can have trying to earn a living, getting fired is definitely the worst part about work. Of all the elements of work, getting up, going to work, working, dealing with your dork boss, coming home from work and having no free time, going to sleep early so you can go to work, going to work again…yes, indeed, of all the varied aspects of working, getting fired is the worst.

Yes, getting fired sucks. Not working is friggin' great. Not having to go to work, not having to deal with the public, not having any deadlines or expectations, it's terrific. From a purely lifestyle point of view, not working is definitely the way to go. It's kind of a balance, really. If you work, then you have money but no time and if you get fired, you suddenly have an over-abundance of time. You have an amazing amount of time, so much time that you almost can't decide what to do with all your time. In fact, you finally have time to all the things you couldn't do before. Provided they don't cost money. If they cost money, you're totally screwed.

Anything, actually, that costs money becomes a rather serious problem once you've been fired. This is due to your lack of income. Well, obviously. Sorry, my brain patterns have become a bit scattered since loosing my job. This happens when you're unemployed and desperately broke. You start to doubt yourself and your place in life and you have lots of time to dwell on it.

My girlfriend, Meghan, and I were discussing all of these issues the other night over our favorite meal, mayonnaise smeared on cardboard, and she suggested that maybe this was a sign that I should take the opportunity to follow my lifelong passion, to drive a Porche Roadster made of solid platinum through the Louvre blind-folded, as performance art. Unfortunately, my attempts to obtain funding for this endeavor have so far met with limited success and when I applied for a street theatre grant, my project idea was described by the government as "a flaming bag of snot."

I'm trying not to get discouraged about all this, but it's tough to keep my spirits up. I've done everything I can think of to move on with my life: I've moped; I've complained; I've stared at the wall. I'm stumped. Plain and simply, I'm not sure what I should do with my life, so I think I'll turn this over to you guys this time. Normally I give you, my loyal and weird readers advice, and if you follow it I can not be held legally responsible, but this time I'm asking for help from you: What should I do with my life? Our lines are open.

I await your advice with great expectation and a certain amount of horror. Until next week, keep your pen on the page and your advice coming in!

Steve Sharam

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Opportunity in disguise

Sorry to hear about your situation. Not having money sucks, I know. A quote from 'Fight Club' comes to mind - "Only after we've lost everything are we free to do anything". I don't know if being 'just' skint qualifies, but it is an opportunity, even if it has been forced on you. If grovelling to your former boss is out of the question, then obviously you will have to do something else about your situation, from accepting, to a complete life change. What are your chances of finding new employment? On how little can you live? Can you downsize further? Do you have assets (maybe unused clutter) to sell? Would re-location be an advantage? What can you do with how little investment? Do you have to put all your eggs in one basket? There are a lot of good articles on Steve Pavlina's website, including this one , and this , which give you a different view of things. There are some excelent tools and techniques on the National Health Service website , which can be adapted for your purpose, and help in the decision making process, from mindmapping to Pareto charts, and all very easy to understand and use. Try to gather as much data as possible to make the most informed decision, and don't leave out your values, and likes and dislikes. All the best, Steve, and keep up the spirit.

The Oracle..

Said to 'know thyself'. I read your post and it's obviously a nice sarcastic rant on the state of your union but how do we tune in to help when you are not showing yourself the love?

If this were a GTD class what would your 50,000ft view look like? I can't get a bead on your passions but something in the world must light your fire and if nothing does maybe it's time to vagabond around the world for a while until you can find that thing that makes your soul sing.

The rules of life are transient, the only thing that will occur is your death. Government, taxes, rent, jobs, are all things that mean nothing next to your self. So who are you Steve? When you close your eyes and envision success what is it from?

I've known a lot of different walkers of life and you can find a groove at any altitude. Just meditate, use paper, and extrapolate a trajectory. Execute and follow through and you will get there.


Start with what you can do

And by that I mean: Get your stuff in line. Don't know how it is in Canada, but the first thing I did when laid off, was I went down and registered for unemployment. If you haven't done it, do it now. Take a shower, put on a tie, grab your resumes and go down to the employment office. Any place that looks like it might be nice to work at, stop in, chat and drop off a resume. I know,I know, they most likely will shove you off to the website, but you never know. Get signed up for any welfare assistance available. At first this seems humiliating, but, hell, you paid into it, unlike a lot of recipients.

Then, figure out if you're willing to work, say, delivering pizzas or retail. Christmas season has started and all of the stores are staffing up. If you gotta put that Christmas goose on the table, this'll be your easiest way. And cheap gifts for relatives too.

Next, heck, you're a good writer. What's wrong with that? Go freelance. Got any leads? You'd be surprise what people are willing to pay for someone to make them sound smarter. Resumes are a bitch, take that only a last step prior to going down to the bus stop to perform favors, but marketing materials, ad and website copy are all within your wheelhouse. Take a swing.

KEEP WRITING ON DYI. Keep us appraised of your trials and tribulations. Keep a diary, write more, but don't just sit there and surf the internet.

Oh, and what to do with your life? I dunno. Don't worry, though, it'll come around. You are smart and work hard enough to put this column together every week. I know how hard it is to update my blog barely once a month, so you should pat yourself on the back for your steadfast commitment to your column. Take heart in that and keep plugging away.

Use the Force. (To be read in the style of Yodda)...

Under normal circumstances I would leave others to impart their wisdom on your situation. However, having followed your career, through these pages, from undergraduate to store clerk to unemployed stuntman, sorry 'perfomance artist'; I feel like a Ben wan Kenobi to your Luke Skywalker... :P

1/ Watch the film 'American Beauty'. Although there are other books and films which deal with the subject of existential crisis, none show Annette Benning in quite the same light.

2/ Write a letter to your ex-employer telling him/her that you 'feel' you have a bright future ahead... though sadly not with their third rate trinket gallery. Note: Pre-date the letter and claim the dork is only trying to make it look as if he fired you to satisfy his/her own lust for power.

3/ Start an new cult. Religious or lifestyle, it doesn't matter. They all use the same tricks to recuit new members.

4/ Find a rich patron for your talent. Bear in mind a stainless steel De Lorean DMC-12 will cost less than a platinum Porche Roadster and if one gives it a good rub, it is hard to distinguish one from the other. Skeptical? Take a look at Mont Blanc's 'precious resin' Can anyone tell it apart from Sailor's 'shiny plastic'?

Duct tape is like the Force...

It has a dark side and a light side and it binds the universe together.

Goodness, what a lot of good advice

Wow, thank you everyone, what a lot of good advice. I should perhaps note that it was definately not my dream job, just a job that made art-making possible and comfortable, so I'm not much concerned with finding my lifetime career as I am with finding money so I don't have to try my hand at making bored businessmen happy:S Canada, unfortunately, is different than the States when it comes to unemplyment: Here, they just leave you on an ice flow if you can't support yourself. Sad, really...

I think I'll find something soon; there're lots of jobs out there. I really just want to find something to support me whilst I attempt to make art. I'm thinking about moving into a period of painting only in bright blue with the paint brush stuck in my ear while thinking about the Strategic Defense Innitiative and listening to Mozart. With the ear that doesn't have a paint brush stuck in it, that is.

Steve Sharam

Keep your chin up.

One suggestion that immediately springs to mind is... start looking for another job. Preferably one that doesn't promote dorks to management positions (good luck).

Now would be an excellent time to go on a diet.

Since money is scarce, focus on the joy that non-monetary items bring. Lean on your friends. Especially the ones who've leaned on you in the past.

Collect on any outstanding debts you might have.

Take full avantage of the following: Coupons, invitations to friends' houses for dinner, free samples at the local warehouse grocer.

When you see a penny lying on the ground, pick it up.

Laugh. You'll feel better when you do.

Look at the situation as an opportunity. You weren't crazy about that last job anyway, am I right? Who's worse off now that you're no longer employed there (the correct answer is "THEM.")? This is Fate smacking you on the back of the head and telling you to move on. Fate's kind of... blunt sometimes.

To quote my grandfather: "Be glad you've got your health. Everything is less important than good health."

Take this as an opportunity to streamline. Got a bunch of crap lying around that you never use? Now's a perfect time to sell it, get a bit of cash, and uncomplicate your life a little in the process.

Take advantage of the downtime and donate some of it to a worthy cause helping people less fortunate that yourself. You'll be doing a good thing, feel better about yourself, and realize that things could always be worse.

Set aside enough money to go out and get drunk. Just once. Early on. Bad enough to have a ripe hangover the next morning. It's cathartic, and the hangover will cure any desire you might have to drink while depressed (Don't drive, and stay out of jail).

In the meantime, if anyone asks, you're not "unemployed." You're a freelance consultant.

Hmm, good advice

Hmm, thanks Drew. I was actually thinking about that old adage about your health being the most important thing when I was throwing up bad Chinese food all last night. I guess I shoulnd't have good to "MSG Palace" for lunch. Anyway, it's my proble, I'll deal with it.

That's all very interesting advice. Thing is, I'm not sure that I have enough time to do all of that, so I may have to condence things a bit. How's this sound? I'll get drunk and go spend some time with the less fortunate (I'm sure there are some out there) and then I'll go find a job when I have a hangover, laugh at the free samples from the grocery store, steal my friend's pennies, because as my grandfather used to say, "Sometimes when you're a freelance consultant fate can smack you in the head, so make sure you take the opportunity to go streamline in jail." Sometimes I miss his advice...

Steve Sharam

Take heart and focus

Take heart, Steve, and don't get your spirits down. I've worked in the business world for 20 years for a large company, and seen all manner of firings and lay-offs, often with little sense or justification, often with simple cold accounting calculation. I work for a company which a few years ago 'let go' world famous, published engineers and physicists. I'm amazed I survived. In excess of half my colleagues have been fired over the years. My advice from that experience is not to lay about and just enjoy life without work, but rather, to take looking for a new job as your full-time job. It's not just that you need the money, rather: it'll sap your soul if lay about thinking you're being free or some kind of consultant without portfolio, or worse, become simply depressed - you need to focus and be busy (okay, granted, you cannot work 8 hours a day looking through the want ads - but you do need to do serious desk time). I've seen friends fall into this, and believe there's a real danger of discouragement. If this is an opportunity to re-assess your career, direction, get training, etc., then take that on as an assignment. I know this sounds like a finger-wagging puritan accusation - and thats not what I'm trying to say - it's just I've expressed what I want to say incompetently. This is not being knocked off the train and falling into the ditch and dying -- rather, the train you were on failed, broke down for you, and you walk off and start looking for alternate transportation.


Harry, that advice should be taken outside and shot. Not that it's bad advice, but your metaphors were getting pretty mangled there. But it's true what you say. I'm not really up a tree without a paddle and I need to make hay while the iron's hot.

Steve Sharam