Laid off: My time to pause and reboot

I was laid off last week, the casualty of a workforce reduction.

It’s Silicon Valley so, you know, change happens. Teams get restructured and positions gets eliminated all the time. Sometimes, you take a bullet.

Until now, I hadn’t shared my layoff news with many people — though I’m not exactly sure why. After all, getting laid off isn’t really something that anyone should be ashamed of. Jobs come and go. Layoffs happen. Yet, when it happens to you, it can really rock your world. I was actually laid off almost exactly one year after I was hired, so I spent the last week hearing from people who took a cue from LinkedIn to congratulate me on my work anniversary. Just the very idea of talking about this with a friend, relative or neighbor those first few days seemed, well, uncomfortable — especially since I didn’t have an answer to the inevitable question: “Now what are you going to do?”

Honestly, I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. Initially, I needed to shake that punch-in-the-gut feeling that comes with news like this. Others who have been there know that it can be an empty feeling, one that renders you powerless and leaves you feeling alone and unsure. When someone is informed that they’re being laid off, there’s no discussion where negotiations are hammered out and a compromise is reached on an alternative outcome. Telling you about it is just the formality. And that’s usually a quick discussion. Most of your questions can be answered in the documents that HR provides — prepared, in advance, for you. After that, there’s really not much more to say. It’s just… done.

When I learned my fate, the first call I made was to my wife — but not right away. I sort of wandered around aimlessly for a few minutes, wondering what I would tell her and anticipating how she would react. I wasn’t as much worried about her reaction as I was about how I would force the words out. They’re tough to say. Still, I know I had no reason to worry. I’ve been married to this woman for a long time and she’s been my rock on more than one occasion so I knew her words would be reassuring. And they were.

She listened as I recapped my news. She assured me that everything would be OK and that I would find another gig soon. Then, she suggested that I actually take a week or two to just pause, to take a break from work and reboot myself. Go hit some golf balls, she said. Tackle a garage project. Get back into a workout regimen. Maybe start writing one of those books I keep talking about.

When you get laid off, your initial reaction is to find another job right away. Bills have to paid, right? For some, jumping right into the next job is the only option — and, at another time in my life, it would have been my only option, too. But today, I’m fortunate and blessed to be able to entertain the idea of taking some time off and rebooting, without my world crashing down while I catch my breath for a moment.

After all, my company isn’t just kicking me out the door, into the cold without a dime. And I’ve also been smart about putting some money away for rainy days and emergencies. We do, however, have two kids in college and a Silicon Valley mortgage — so pause-and-reboot isn’t a long-term plan. But for the past week or so, it’s been good to not be tethered to my phone email and to not spend three hours a day grinding through round-trip commute traffic.

Slowly, I’ve started to sniff around careers sites to see what’s out there and I’m both optimistic and confident that something great for me is just around the corner. I sat down a few days ago and updated my resume and spruced up my LinkedIn profile. I also have a strong network of friends and business contacts who might have some leads on positions that would suit a guy with my kind of experience and knowledge.

Some might say I’m kind of a catch, ya know… <wink wink>

In all seriousness, it took a week or so but I have finally come to peace with the closure of this chapter of my life. The job will make a nice addition to my resume and my network is even stronger now that some of my former colleagues are part of it. But I accept that the time has come for me to move on to the next thing. While I’m not one to openly tout my spirituality, I do subscribe to the belief that God has a master plan for each of us and that, for reasons that I cannot question, this door had to close so that another one can open. It’s times like these when I just “give it to God” and accept that this outcome was meant to be.

Now that I’m in a better place, I can answer the “What will I do next?” question. I think I’ll read a book, organize my garage and lace up my running shoes again. Oh, and I’ll be looking for a new job, of course, so if you know of something, hit me up. I can’t wait to learn about the opportunities that are out there.

After all, this is Silicon Valley so, you know, change happens. Teams get restructured and new positions get created all the time. Sometimes, you come across something great, something you might have never discovered had you not been forced to look.