When a technology company begins layoffs, top performers retain their jobs and the slackers are shown the door. It's part of the natural selection process in business. Um, if only life were that fair.
It ain't. But as a layoff survivor myself I've come to this surprising conclusion: Everyone should experience a job cut at least once in their careers. Here's why.
1. Whom Can You Count On?: When you're working, you often gain a false sense of friendships and relationships. Try calling those same peers once you're out of a job and you quickly discover who truly cares about helping to open the next door for you.
It's a humbling but important exercise in "ego deflation" -- and it ultimately helps you to identify the folks that deserve your friendship over the long haul.
2. Wants vs Needs: When you live paycheck to paycheck, you spend considerable money on "wants" that you think are "needs." Without a paycheck, the wants quickly disappear from your day-to-day budget. It's an important "reset" that helps you to become a better saver -- and budgeter -- once your next job arrives.
3. Life-Work Balance: This is a line I've repeated many times. Lots of folks strive to achieve so-called "work-life" balance. But you need to flip-flop that priority and put life first in the equation, as HTG Peer Groups Founder Arlin Sorensen taught me.
Once you're out of a job you realize just how many hours you spent at that job. When you're unemployed, the days become longer. Much longer. Anxiety can overwhelm you as you search job boards and social networks for job listings. Instead of succumbing to that anxiety, step away from the keyboard for a few hours each day -- and reconnect with your family. Then, never forget that life-work balance once you do land your next job.
4. What Is Money?: Somewhere during the layoff journey, your relationship with money may change. At some point during my own layoff experience, money shifted from "acquiring things" to "acquiring freedom." I wanted to start accumulating money again to buy my freedom -- freedom to spend more time with family instead of spending more dollars on stuff.
5. Rethink Your Pursuits: Back when I was in my mid-20's, I wanted to be the editor of a major IT magazine by the time I was 30. I wanted to have a business by the time I was 35. I wanted to be debt-free by the time I was 50. But somewhere around age 40 I did my own life reset.
Fast-forward to age 45, and I've spent most of the past year balancing life and work -- with a heavy emphasis on time with my wife and kids. My current top "pursuits" involve watching my kids compete on the lacrosse fields, or shuttling them to summer camps for computer science and more.
Still Working At... Work
Oh, and I still have some pretty exciting business pursuits. As does my business partner, After Nines Inc. CEO Amy Katz. With a little luck, we'll describe those potential pursuits later this year...
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