I was having a beer with a friend who was voicing his frustration with his job.
Then he turned to me as said…
“Sometimes, I just wish they’d fire me. It’d be just the kick in the ass I need to pursue a career I really love.”
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard this.
In fact, I’d heard it numerous times from others fighting daily in the corporate trenches.
Is getting fired a twisted fantasy or a legitimate path to following your career dreams?
Getting Fired as Fantasy
Cue the music…
Welcome to Fantasy Fired Island where all your getting fired fantasies come true.
One day your normally cheerful HR person walks into your office with a big frown and a uniformed security guard.
They strip your corporate badge and then drop a tiny cardboard box on your desk and tell you you’ve got 5 minutes to pack your stuff.
In your haste, you leave behind some of your most treasured corporate memorabilia including your 5-year pen and office field day trophy.
Then, you’re walked out in tears past your colleagues, and then to the parking lot.
You leave that day vowing “you’ll show them”.
The next week you start that pet project you’ve been considering for years.
It quickly grows into an international behemoth corporation, and you take it public.
You buy the company you used to work for.
On day 1 of your take over, you fire your old boss and that guy who wouldn’t shut-up in the weekly staff meetings.
Then you take a direct flight to Maui and sip Mai-Tai’s by the beach and run your company remotely from there.
And that’s exactly how getting fired as fantasy goes.
Sounding pretty good?
Getting Fired as Reality TV
Cue the music again…
Welcome to Real World Corporate where people stop being polite and start “getting real”.
It’s the same first part of the story, but it happens on a Friday afternoon during the summer when most of your co-workers are out the office and the firing can be done quietly.
There are also a lot more forms to fill-out before you leave and in your stunned state, you just sign them. Hopefully not missing anything important.
You leave work scratching your head.
You feel exhilarated by the freedom but also concerned about what’s next and of course where the next paycheck will come from.
You’d love to pursue one of the ideas that’s been swirling in your head, but it’s overwhelming.
You just don’t know where to start.
You’re finally free but you realize something…
You’ve never worked a day without having your goals set for you by someone else.
You’re not limited by your annuals goals or your review anymore.
It’s exciting to make your own rules but the big problem you’ve got is “what next?”.
And “what next?” can be paralyzing.
The reality is that getting fired is devastating, and if you’re saying “it’d be the best thing that could happen to you” then think again.
Fantasizing about getting fired is just an excuse for not pursuing your career dream.
Time think differently.
The Struggle to Pursue What You Love
The underlying struggle here is that you’d like to be free to pursue your dreams.
You’d like to be able to throw caution to the wind and make a bold move, but quitting seems impossible.
Quitting means grabbing a raging bull by the horns right now and taking full responsibility for the outcome.
Hoping or waiting to get fired is passing the buck. It’s letting someone else decide for you.
You might be relieved to hear that for most people in this situation, I don’t recommend quitting
Instead of fantasizing about getting fired, channel the fantasy into something much more powerful…
Take action to explore what it’d be like outside of your corporate gig without actually leaving it.
A few small steps of exploration go a long way in building momentum, and actually clarifying knowing what your next step would be if and when you part company with your company.
Try starting with one of these steps:
- Talk to a Veteran – Try talking to someone that’s quit or been fired before and landed on their feet. What did they go through? What did the learn from it? What would they do differently?
- Take a Fantasy Work-cation – Line up something in your fantasy line of work whether it be teaching rock climbing, fly fishing, real estate in , etc…, take vacation time and go experience it for a week. Yes, you will be paying to work; but this is one of the best ways to see what’s it like.
- Live and Thrive in Austerity – Put yourself and your family and the most austere budget you can and live off of that for 3 months. You’ll save a ton of money, and you’ll experience what it’s like to scrape by for awhile with little income. You can hold yourself to it by opening up a second bank account and transferring your “quit” budget and only spending out of that for 3 months. Oh so painful, but a massive reality check. Once you know you and your family can do it, your feel more confidence about making a move on your own terms.
So what would you do if you got fired today?