At one point in my 20s, I lived in the relentlessly-foggy Outer Sunset district of San Francisco. This was an issue, since I was raised in Hawai'i and crave the sun the way other people crave coffee in the morning--intensely.
Going back to my tropical roots seemed brilliant, so I applied for a tour guide position at Club Med, the all-inclusive resort company. I got it, and a short number of weeks later I found myself working in the Turks & Caicos Islands in the Caribbean.
It was just what I needed ... for about a week. Then I realized that the Club had a toxic company culture.
I told myself to stick with it despite this. "It's a challenge," I said to myself. "You should make it work."
Two weeks later, I got fired.
Fast-forward to a few years later, when I lived in chilly, gray Washington, DC and worked for a small startup. One day in June, my boss called me to let me know he had to let me go because the startup had run out of funding.
"Oh!" I exclaimed. I hadn't expected this, but it wasn't exactly a shock; the startup had been having some issues.
"Well, we had a great run," I told my brave, entrepreneurial boss, who was on the hook to countless investors. (He wasn't having the best summer.)
"Yeah," he said. "Listen, I'm sorry about this ... what are you going to do?"
It was in that moment that I started to reflect on what I really wanted.
I moved to LA a month later.
Sometimes life throws you a curveball. There you are, functioning under the illusion that you control everything in your life, and BAM! You're fired.
It can be disorienting. It can have you question yourself, your actions, your decisions. It can affect your self-esteem, if you let it.
On the other hand, it can prompt much-needed change. A switch in direction.
'Tis the season of thanksgiving, and I've been reflecting on shifts in my life for which I should give said thanks. And I'm genuinely grateful for both of these instances of me losing my job.
Why? Because in both cases, I was far, far happier after the firing.
In the case of Club Med, I was so relieved to be fired that I didn't even ask about why they were letting me go; I just asked whether they could send me back to NYC instead of SF.
They did, and this marked the beginning of a new phase in my life--one for which I was more than ready. I wanted to learn and grow, to stretch and be challenged. In addition to being toxic, Club Med wasn't an intellectually stimulating enough job for me. I was bored.
NYC is the opposite of boring in every way. Living there pushed me in ways I needed to be pushed. I grew tremendously.
In the case of the startup, while I was happy working there and liked my team, getting fired was the deciding factor in me moving to LA from DC. I'm not sure I would have otherwise, and it has been the right decision in every way imaginable.
What's the point, you ask?
The point is that you can't always control what happens to you in your life. You just can't. Sometimes Life makes a decision for you (like removing a job from your life), and this is actually better for you in the long run ... not something being stolen from you.
In other words, if you're open to it, you can surf the wave of change rather than get overwhelmed by it.
Getting fired wasn't comfortable for me in either case. I don't think it ever is. But it's possible to use it as a sign, and get into the flow of the shift that wants to happen.
The title of this article implies that there are three times I've been fired (and been grateful). I outlined two of those. The third hasn't happened yet.
I can't predict the future and I don't know what life will bring. But I'm absolutely sure that at some point, there will be another unexpected twist or turn involving my career.
And I bet it'll bring good things in the end.