The layoff “survival” plan

May 21, 2020

Almost 10 weeks ago today, for most of us, the world as we’d come to know it suddenly changed. 

One tiny yet deadly virus, completely turned our lives upside down. All over the world. 

The abrupt change has been a different experience for each of us, depending on our personal situation but for many, it has also come with a sudden and completely unexpected and unanticipated layoff. 

If that’s you, this article’s for you! 

If that’s you, I feel you. 

The sudden layoff happened to me just over 7 years ago… part of a massive wave of layoffs at the company I worked at where hundreds got laid off that year. 
I still vividly remember the day, the time, the boardroom with the brown envelope with the documents spelling out the legal details. 
I remember driving home in the middle of the afternoon on a Monday, still stunned and in shock of what had just happened. 

Leaving the office with my purse, briefcase and a box of personal stuff. 

I remember all the thoughts and feelings, the tears, the anxiety and the fear that I might lose everything I had worked so hard to build. 

Did I mention the fear? 

I thought about my employees, my co-workers, bosses, all the people I had worked with all of those years, all left behind in that moment. No more daily interactions. No more walking into someone’s office to brainstorm on the business topics I loved. No more daily mentoring and exchanges with the team that I had built and the people I loved working with.  

But today, I’m grateful for that experience and for the year that followed. 
It turned out to be the most challenging year of my life and also the best in terms of personal growth. 
The years that followed would not have been possible without my layoff. 

I tell you this story now because if you’ve been laid off through this challenging period, I understand what it’s like. I have so much empathy for what you’re going through!

I also know that the emotional aspect of such a loss can be a roller coaster that feels at times like it will never end. 

And,  I also know that life on the other side can be amazing! 

And, in order for that to happen, you have some decisions to make right now.

Let's talk about "survival"

I  titled this article The Layoff “Survival” Plan with “survival in brackets for a reason. Here’s a definition of survival, courtesy of Google:

"The state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances"

How interesting that the definition points to survival being a “STATE”. As if it’s something that just is.  What if survival was in fact an ACTION? What if we made a conscious decision to choose thoughts and beliefs that lead to actions that create the result of SURVIVAL? What would that look like?

From this place and purposeful mindset, we can start to create a plan for ourselves that turns a layoff survival story into one of empowered choices and actions that set the stage for the next phase of our career and life. 

A place where we go from survival to thriving

A place where we decide to draft a plan, for our future, ideal career. 

I call such a plan, a Career Growth Plan. 

We may not know all the steps and all the things we want yet in our future career but from this place, all we need to do is start to ask ourselves some powerful questions, such as these: 

  • What type of career do I want to choose for my future? 
  • How can I grow myself into the executive that holds this role? 
  • What gaps do I have with my current skills and experience in order to achieve this career? 
  • How can I start to fill those gaps NOW? 
  • Who do I know that I can network with that can help me learn something new, or further my career goals? And, what can I help them with or who can I connect them with? 
 All it can take take to turn a situation around is a great set of questions, some purposeful soul-searching and a plan. 


And powerful decisions. About purposely designing or re-imagining your career, and  setting a plan in motion to achieve it.


I did it... and you can too!

All it takes is that first decision. 

Some baby steps, Some major steps. 

More decisions. 

And with a plan and a vision, and the mindset and action to make it all happen, your perfect career can be right around the corner. 

What will it be?