Losing a job hurts emotionally and financially. It can throw your for a loop, leave you feeling disoriented, and challenge your budgeting skills.
Nearly a quarter of all U.S. households have experienced a layoff during the Great Recession and afterward, according to survey by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. In fact, most Americans were directly affected by a job loss, or just a step or two removed from it.
While going through a transition in life isn’t easy, it can ultimately lead to something better and teach you a lot about who you are as a person and what you want out out of life. Here are some benefits of being laid off:
1. It forces you to refocus, financially.
When you’re not earning any income, you’re forced to look at your spending habits. Getting laid off allows you to see where you’re wasting money needlessly and how you should readjust your spending according to your new financial reality.
It teaches you lessons about budgeting and how to achieve financial independence that you might not learn otherwise. These are money skills that will last beyond the time you spend jobless. And you might be surprised to find that you don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy life.
2. It pushes you to pursue your passions.
Did you love your last job? Were you happy there? Is it really what you wanted to do? If the answer to any of those questions is no, then consider getting laid off a blessing in disguise. It may hurt in the short-term, but it gives you the time and opportunity to focus on what you really want to do. So many people get stuck doing work that is unfulfilling. Getting laid off takes you out of your routine and gives you a chance to pursue dreams you may have put on hold.
3. It is a good motivator.
Instead of wallowing in negativity or sadness after getting laid off, use it as motivation to get back up and prove your doubters wrong. Getting laid off is an unforgettable experience, but will help build your character and allow you to see how resilient you really are. And you can take comfort that the following people also experienced getting laid off or fired at one point in their lives: Michael Bloomberg, Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, Anna Wintour.
4. It gives you time to get stuff done.
If you haven’t gotten around to cleaning out your garage or taking your car to the auto shop, consider yourself lucky because you’ve now got time on your hands to get stuff done. In between applying for jobs, keep yourself busy by getting to the work you were supposed to do last year.
5. It gives you time to work on yourself.
Getting laid off doesn’t just free up time to get work around the house done — it’s also an opportunity to improve yourself. It gives you more time to take care of your health — both physical and mental.
It frees up time to grow professionally by learning new skills online or taking a workshop. It allows you to grow spiritually and gives you time to reflect on the people and things in your life. It can also help you strengthen relationships that might have been strained when you were working with your partner, children, or friends.
6. It can make you eligible to receive benefits.
If you’re laid off, you typically qualify to receive unemployment benefits. But if you just quit — and in some cases if you’re fired (though not if you’re fired for misconduct or disciplinary measures) — you might not be eligible for unemployment. In addition to being eligible for unemployment benefits, you might also get a severance package from your employer if you’re laid off.
However, note that severance is at the discretion of the employer and not required by law. You might also be eligible to receive deferred compensation in the form of stocks or cash.
Unemployment is just a small bump in the road — with millions of Americans experiencing joblessness at some point in their lives. So take advantage of the opportunities it might open up for you.