Guest Post by Eva Steortz
Getting laid off at any age is no fun.
Yet from my experience, I can promise you there are truly incredible benefits possible from this major life disruption. Even if you are downsized from what you believe to be your dream job, life can absolutely continue to get better.
Don’t believe it? Well, I am kind of the poster child for this surprising tale. At age 50, while working for the Walt Disney Company, two weeks before my 20th anniversary, I was told my services were no longer needed. What?!? I was the model, loyal, passionate employee with nothing but stellar reviews and amazing relationships.
It’s hard not to take these downsizing moments personally. However:
Getting laid off in no way is a reflection of the amazing person you are.
And, just like the song says, “a change can do you good.”
Here are five amazing benefits I happily discovered after getting laid off from my Disney dream-come-true job.
Spending More Time with Family
I always knew I was missing a great deal of my son’s early school years. Not once did I drop off or pick up. I missed a lot of school events. It was my choice so I can’t be resentful. However, I found that I had way undervalued being present for more of the everyday simple stuff.
My son Nico was in high school, but thankfully there were still fundraising events. To everyone’s shock, I took time to bake homemade brownies.
I often picked him and his friends up after school and took them to In-N-Out Burger. We just hung out and talked about school projects and gulp, even girls. I was truly present all through high school. That time will always be priceless.
Embracing Real Work-Life Balance
A major change gives you an opportunity to make a full reassessment. What a luxury to have the time to reflect on what’s most important to you. The focus to develop a new plan to ensure you are living the life you imagined for yourself. It was my choice to work 50+ hours a week. None of my bosses stood over me. It’s a bit crazy in hindsight.
I learned it’s possible to work efficiently and have time to hang out with family, exercise, see friends, and even write a book. I still love work, but now I’m more focused and productive. Both my working time and my living-life time are now fully prioritized and compartmentalized. Guilt-free.
Learning Lots of New Skills
After 20 years, I knew how to do my job at Disney pretty well. It’s true what they say about getting too comfortable. I was there for three re-releases of Cinderella so it was becoming a challenge to come up with new ideas.
When I got laid off, I didn’t have an updated resume. I didn’t know how to manage my calendar. Or, how to create presentations and what to do when my computer completely fails. You learn a lot fast when you are forced to. Starting a consulting business meant all new projects, new ways of operating, and even new industries. So many new challenges and opportunities! So much growth.
Enjoying Massive Stress Reduction
For the first few weeks of not having to get up early and sit in LA’s crazy, rush hour traffic, I felt so tired. I thought something was wrong. It was quite a while before I realized I wasn’t tired, I was just relaxed. I didn’t even know what that felt like.
Taking care of me became a priority. I added more yoga and walking plus other self-care habits like regular massages. I still thrive on a bit of deadline pressure, but I have no interest in revisiting the time when I thought stressed out and frazzled were normal.
Networking and Expanding Relationships
While I always prided myself on my many personal and professional friendships, looking back my circle was quite small. Changing jobs means meeting all new people. And, allowing yourself time to go to the gym, travel, and take classes…everything new you do opens up a whole new world of wonderful people to meet.
Prioritizing people. How simple. What could be more important, as well as fun?
Getting Laid Off. The Moral of the Story.
These days, getting laid off happens to the best of us.
Allow yourself a little time to do the denial and anger phase, but get to the acceptance part as soon as possible. There is a whole new world out there to explore.
Want to hear something shocking? I have not one negative to report from my Disney layoff. I am grateful for the wonderful memories. The friends I used to work with, I still see. Truth is, it’s not the same place, and I am not the same person.
Change is more than good. It’s essential for our growth and well being.
Even when change is not your idea, try to embrace the opportunities it presents. And be sure to aim even higher. Life can absolutely get even better. Promise.
Eva is an enthusiastic, results-oriented go-getter and Chief Inspiration Officer of her own company, Vita Creativa.
She has done marketing consulting with every major entertainment studio following a 20-year dream-come-true-career at the Walt Disney Company where her accountabilities included: strategic brand planning, consumer marketing, retail marketing, promotions and sales.
Eva’s anything-is-possible attitude and saucy southern charm comes from growing up in West Virginia. She recently published a career advice book called: FROM THE OUTHOUSE TO THE MOUSE HOUSE, CRAP YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR A DREAM-COME-TRUE-CAREER.
To relax, Eva enjoys gardening, yoga, and drinking champagne as needed.
Note: This article originally ran at womenontopp.com.