How to Say Goodbye after Being Fired
I was fired! In thirty years of my career, I was fired for the first time. This was what happened: I had signed up with a large public sector client for a one-year project management contract. I got paid on a per diem basis. I kept working hard every day till my contract end date. No one in the hiring position said and did anything to extend my contract. Though I did not get a pink slip, nor was I being escorted to the exit elevator, not getting an extension for a contract in an unfinished project is equivalent to being fired in a conventional full-time employment role. At four o’clock in the afternoon on November 26, I packed up my laptop, cleaned my desk and returned my office supplies to the administrator and said a few goodbyes to my close colleagues.
I mused over some questions the week after this happened:
- What did I do wrong?
- Why didn’t management respond to my inquiry about my contract situation?
- Why didn’t anyone ask me to hand over my work or give me some hints that my contract was not being extended?
I also had these thoughts:
- People don’t care about my contract.
- People don’t care about what I can offer.
- People don’t care about me.
This is by far the worst thought: People don’t like me.
What if this is true? I don’t think I should change who I am, but I can certainly improve on my job performance, people skills and the technical aspects of my work. Cecil Murphey, best –selling author, reminded me to stay true to myself. He said,
“I would rather be disliked for who I am than to be admired for who I’m not.”
Whatever happened is history. I will focus on the future, continue to develop new skills, refine my character flaws and grow to fulfill my full potential. It took me a week to finally put together a farewell note to my project team including management. This is what I wrote on Dec 2, 2012:
I’d like to say goodbye to all of you and share a few words from my heart.
Each life experience tends to leave me with a fond memory, a valuable lesson or a profound insight. My one year at XX Project Name was filled with these precious moments. I thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn and grow.
As my consulting contract with YY Company Name ended last Monday, I started a new venture. I am re-imagining my retirement. Childlike wonder strikes me while I contemplate on all the possibilities ahead.
Your XX Project Name spirit of strong work ethics, result-driven approach and commitment to excellence will continue to inspire me. May you enjoy bountiful accomplishments and good health as 2012 is drawing to a close. As for 2013, I know you will attain your goals successfully with the launch of Project A in March and Project B in September.
I look forward to hearing your success stories in the near future. Keeping in touch is my pleasure and privilege.
A few colleagues commented that they read the most beautiful farewell note in their lives. To me, that farewell note served as the best therapy I’ve ever had. It enabled me to accept this termination as a fact, appreciate the learning experience, and treasure the friendship that I’ve gained. Most important of all, it freed me to move on as if I was given a set of wings to soar higher.
For others who have experienced being fired/terminated, “laid-off” or not having their contract extended, it doesn’t matter what terminology they use, it still hurts! I recommend you to still write your farewell note to put closure on this chapter of your career. When you write, consider these points:
- If you are angry, confused, worried or distressed, wait until you feel less stressed before you write.
- Make reference to a few positive things to say about your team, your project, your role, the company, etc.
- Do share with them your next steps if you know. You may plan to go on a vacation. You may jump right in to look for another job/contract.
- Anticipate your future prospects with hope.
How did you handle your pink slip experience(s)?
What strong emotions came to your mind and how did those intense feelings affect you?