Fabrizio Moreira, CEO of The Moreira Organization, LLC.
You've been doing your best for years. You've put in long hours, made personal sacrifices and put the company's interests first. But in the end, it wasn't enough: You got laid off, or worse, fired. Whether you made a bad decision, failed to anticipate a competitive threat, or lost your cool as the pressure mounted, you've been terminated, and there is no going back.
"It's normal to panic when you are told you are terminated. It stirs up the insecurity that we all have about our ability and our future. Although it is a very difficult emotional blow, if you're smart about how you react, you will look back on this time and see that it was only a speed bump in your otherwise successful career," Gail Meneley, co-founder and advisor at Shields & Meneley Partners, told me. "Don't let this setback define your future. Plan your reaction, allow yourself to grieve, but make sure you come back stronger once you've recovered."
The main thing you should know? Don't make any sudden decisions for the next few days. Instead, take this time to recover and plan your next moves.
Here is your to-do list for the next few days:
Step 1: Allow yourself to grieve.
You didn't get to the executive suite without making a commitment to your company and your colleagues. They will no longer be a part of your everyday life, and that hurts. It is normal and healthy to recognize that loss and to grieve.
If you've just been terminated, spend a little time alone to regain your composure and begin processing this experience. Depending on your situation and how much time you have, it may mean taking an hour to walk in the park, or a weekend to binge-watch television. Use this period to get ready to start letting people know what happened, starting with those closest to you.
Step 2: Connect with your closest family and friends.
The sooner you tell your spouse or partner the better; they will know that something devastating has happened, which means your choice is to either let them in and allow them to support you, or push them away. There is no faking your way through a life event like this, but having your partner by your side to help share the burden will make it much easier.
For those of us who are lone wolves, or if your termination was high profile, don't hesitate to seek professional counseling to help with the transition.
Step 3: Decide how you're going to talk about it.
If you were fired from a high profile executive position, it's likely that you're going to be forced to talk about why you left. This answer should be developed and agreed upon by you and the company. You want to exit gracefully, and this is an early chance to be collaborative in that process.
The key is consistency of the message. Make sure that you have an agreement with the company about how your departure will be communicated.
Step 4: Make a plan.
You will experience a wide range of emotions and that is normal. One day you will believe that you will never find another job, the next you will see how this event allows you to follow a dream you have always harbored. Make sure you're comparing your emotional reactions to your previous actions and drives, and are settling on passions that are long-term instead of momentary. Once you know what you really want to do next, make a plan to get there.
The process of regaining your balance requires discipline if you want to get back on track, re-energize, and explore all of the opportunities that are open to you. Consider enlisting the help of a professional thought partner to ensure your re-entry is well-planned and timed.
Take the advice you would give to your best friend: Don't hesitate to ask for help, be good to yourself, focus on staying healthy, and dream big. Know that there are great things ahead.
Fabrizio Moreira is the CEO at The Moreira Organization, LLC.