INSPIRATION

Three Life Lessons from Losing My Job

This is a subject I will always come back to.

On a normal day last summer, I went into my boss’ office for a normal meeting. I left his office without a job.

Having just been offered the position seven months before, confused doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt. But although I didn’t understand, and as unfair as it seemed to me at the time, the decision was final. It isn’t an easy thing to go through.

At this point, I have now not worked there longer than I did work there. And I have to tell you– this shitty situation really did fertilize the ground and I’m amazed at how things are blooming.

Here are the biggest things I’ve learned since I lost my job seven months ago.

1. DO NOT TRY TO AVOID YOUR PASSION– IT WILL FIND YOU.

When I worked at my old job, I drank the company kool-aid whole-heartedly and I openly admitted to doing so. I also shared this kool-aid with just about anyone who would listen, which might be why I was good at selling their stuff to people.

I loved the company and the folks I worked with, but I always knew that it was not my life-long passion. I was helping to build someone else’s dream 40 hours a week, when I could have been building my own.

I learned that you do not have to be ready to build your dream to start building it. In fact, you’ll always make excuses and give yourself reasons to not be ready, because it’s uncomfortable and scary. I believed that my job was secure, and because of that, I didn’t push myself outside of it.

My true, real, gritty, heart-fluttering, electric passion is helping people make positive changes in their lives, and to do it with a voice that comes from my heart– the truest thing I know. Once I lost my job, this passion came down on me hard and said, “I’m still here. Are you paying attention now?”

2. YOU DETERMINE YOUR OWN DEFINITION OF SUCCESS.

And you can always, always change your mind.

This very abrupt life change was a reminder that I can alter my path anytime. I listen to these reminders carefully whenever they come. When you are taught to follow a linear career like I was, it can be hard to get out of that mindset.

I am in the process of re-defining what success means to me. For me, success used to be defined by an impressive-sounding job title and a high-up position at a company. I define success now as whatever makes me feel happy and fulfilled– sentiments which, I have learned, do not necessarily come with a specific job title.

I have re-defined my community. I moved to Colorado because of my old job, and many of the people I know here have some kind of relationship with it. I have changed my community to reflect the kind of successes I want to see in my life: love, passion, ambition, heartfelt connection, and conversations that change my mind all over again every day.

It is never too late to change your mind or your life. Don’t ever think you missed the boat on something… there is almost always another one. And if there isn’t, build a raft.

3. THE BIGGEST THING STOPPING YOU IS YOUR OWN DOUBT.

I never thought twice about taking my old job. It was comfortable. It was easy. I’d only be working 40 hours a week and could have side projects until I was “ready” to jump into working for myself full-time.

That was my plan. I hid behind the excuse of not being “ready.” The truth is, you are never going to feel ready. There will never be a perfect time to take huge risks and to fail.

I didn’t think I was ready to go it alone. I didn’t think I was ready to have a “real” blog, or to write for a sizable audience, or to re-learn photography and graphic design. I wanted to buy myself a little more time to get better at this stuff on the side, while I worked for my boss Monday to Friday. I assumed I would leave the company after a few years and pursue my own projects once I had built a foundation.

Being let go meant I had to just go for it. And it was always possible that it wouldn’t work out. But so far, it is working out in a big, awesome, way. I fail and learn more every day.

What I choose to believe now, and what this experience reinforced, is that there are many ways to do something. I got let go from my job on August 15th, 2015 and it’s been a wild ride since then, one that I didn’t always feel like I was in control of. I’m not sure if or when I’ll have it “figured out,” but I’m sure as shit not going to let fear or doubt stop me from trying.


If you’ve ever lost a job, or if you ever do in your life, know that it happens, that you’re not alone, and that you’ll be okay. I was ashamed and embarrassed, and yet, whenever I brought it up to people, my honesty was met with support and love, not judgment.

If you have recently lost out on an opportunity, here is my advice to you: Move forward with compassion for yourself and the world around you. Allow yourself to be sad, but then you have to go after your passion. Relentlessly. With spirit and heart

Everyone said I’d look back on the day I got fired and say it was the best thing to happen to me. They’ve been right since the day it happened.

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Sean Billups
    April 2, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    What you said about doubt really hit home; I’ve seen a number of people who are close to me lock themselves down with fear and doubt. And that clearly points out to me how I’m often fearful about the future, whether by listening to other people or just the voice inside my head. “What if it doesn’t work out?” –So what?! If I don’t try, I’ll spend the rest of my life wishing I had. There’s more to life than working ’til you die. 😉
    You’re giving me a lot of inspiration to keep that passion alive, so thank you, Erin!

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      April 7, 2016 at 10:22 am

      Thanks so much Sean! Our worst case scenario is often the rest of the world’s best case scenario!

  • Reply
    Michael
    April 4, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Matshona Dhliwayo said ” Our most beautiful dreams are born from our most unpleasant nightmares.” We always hear attitude is everything, yours will hold you in good stead. M

  • Reply
    You Don't Know What Will Stick
    October 14, 2016 at 10:15 am

    […] you may know,* a little over a year ago I got fired, went on a big solo road trip, came back to Colorado and figured my shit out. Not nearly all of it, […]

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