Did I tell you about the time I got fired?
It was my first job out of college. I was working as an accountant at a small firm doing tax returns for small businesses. It was run by three partners. Nice guys. But after four months, they weren’t happy with my work. And they shouldn’t have been. I was slow and made a lot of mistakes. I was a lousy accountant.
The big problem was that I was right out of college working my first professional job. I was struggling just to figure out the basics like filling out time sheets. Like I said it was a small firm. I was the first college graduate they hired. They didn’t have any training programs.
So that would be my first takeaway from the experience. If I’m going to hire someone young or new to professional work, I need to make sure there’s a program to get them into the routine. Make sure they learn how to work here. They know the skills of the profession but not how to do the job.
Not that I’m making excuses.
I should have done a better job despite their lack of training programs. I could have prepared myself better. That’s my second takeaway. I worked pretty hard in class and learned a lot about accounting, but I never learned how to be an accountant. I had chances. There were opportunities for internships at a factory where I worked during the summers in college. I made decent money on the line so I never tried to do more. I should have pushed to work as an intern in the offices and gained some valuable experience that could have saved my job later.
And I could have saved a career. When I got fired, I decided that I couldn’t ever be an accountant for any firm. So I gave up and looked for another career.
That’s what bothers me the most. Not the firing. But I hate that I gave up. I didn’t take the time to figure out my mistakes and try again. Giving up is a nasty habit. It will keep you from being successful. Thankfully I learned to lose that habit.
You can say giving up is my biggest regret. But without that, I wouldn’t be where I am today. In the career I love in the city I love with the woman I love. Everything I did since the firing has led me here. I probably wouldn’t be happy today as an accountant. But I wish I made that choice instead of letting someone else make it for me. It’s ironic that my biggest regret is the turning point that made me happy.
So I know a bit about what you’re going through. So let me walk you through your next choices.
First, you’re going to finish that beer. It will be your last tonight. This firing is all about taking control away from you. You need to exert control over something in your life. Start with drinking. Show yourself you can control it. You don’t want this to be an area that you can’t control.
Second, avoid decisions for a few days. I mean big, life-changing decisions. You can decide to do laundry and shower. Basic hygiene is good. Remember how I got here? I dumped a career in the time it took me to drive home. So take some time off from choosing your next move. Don’t make any decisions unless it involves a long weekend in your favorite retreat. You need to back off and gain some perspective on how you got here.
Third, get introspective. Be honest and understand why you’re now unemployed. You made mistakes. Understand why you made them. This may mean some Myers-Briggs testing or catching up on Dr. Phil. But you need to know how you will avoid these mistakes in the future or compensate for them. Once that happens, you can move on in this career. Or start a new one. You can’t do either without an honest assessment.
Fourth, make your life changing decisions. This company could be all wrong for you. Or you might just need to work with a different management style. That’s for you to decide. Remember what I said about control. Either way, you have options. Choose them based upon what you want and what you are capable of doing.
Fifth, remember this firing does not define the rest of your life. The more you do and accomplish, the less impact this firing will have on your life. So hit the job market, go out with friends and do the things you want to do. Choose what you want your life to be.
I know this is a long-winded way of saying, “Buck up, cowboy.” But you need to think about your life as a series of choices. Everything that happens now is a choice you make. The guy who fired you has no more affect over your life.
Here’s to choices. Cheers.
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