Layoff as a Wake-Up

1909_Tyee_-_Faculty_FootFew careers follow a linear path of ascent until some self-selected retirement age, whereupon leisure compensates for any hardship or drudgery one had to endure along the way. Whether it is a layoff or a related interrupt (re-org, re-assignment, loss of responsibility, dismissal), your run of success likely will not last. Any number of personal shifts or environmental conditions can throw you out of your saddle. Perhaps the most insidious precipitant is that your long-followed path (profession, field, domain, goal) no longer has the same meaning for you. You even want to volunteer for the layoff.

Failure, great suffering and the crises of meaning are the only high priority, non-maskable events that have the power to interrupt your current program for happiness (likely a fairly tight loop) and get you to start experiencing in a greater context and considering a larger meaning. When and if this happens to you, do not waste the moment in resentment or assigning blame. You have the invitation, even the demand, to stand back and self-assess. How can you be more fully human? Have you been ignoring any of your other gifts? “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver).

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