You Just Got Laid Off. What Should You Do Now? The First 24 Hours.

Dude. I’m sorry. No bones about it, being laid off sucks and feels rotten. And possibly you feel compelled to do something, anything to improve the situation. But what should you do in the 24 hours immediately after being laid off or fired?

Nothing.

Welp, I think that just about sums it up.  See you next week!

But I jest…

Specifically, don’t make any financial decisions. There’s no need to. And in fact, I would beg, plead, and cajole you not to. Sure, there are many important financial decisions in your near future:

  • What to do with your 401(k), if anything
  • Make sure you maintain health insurance
  • Evaluate your current income and expenses and determine whether you need to cut back 
  • Determine what to do with your loans, maybe even deferring them (especially student loans)
  • File for unemployment benefits

And of course several things you should do for your career, too.

Does that list of decisions make your chest a little tight now? Imagine how you’d feel looking at that list in the day after you just lost your job. Now tell me whether that’d be a good time to make any of these significant decisions.

Don’t Do Anything for 3 Days

I cannot think of anything that, in normal circumstances, requires your action in the first day, or even 2 or 3, after you lose a job. And in fact, there’s plenty of  commentary out there recommending waiting 72 hours before making a big decision or a decision based on emotion. From buying stuff on Amazon (“I want, I buy!”) to responding to social media criticism if you’re a famous rapper.  

I can’t find anything academic supporting this rule, so I’d guess it’s more a rule of thumb that puts some actionable specificity behind the idea to “wait long enough to get some healthy perspective.”

This desire to Do Something! is normal, most of us have it, and most of us have it whenever anything Big happens. Whenever anything Emotional happens, be it Bad or Good. We get laid off. We break up. The stock market drops. Our landlord says they’re not going to return our security deposit. Been there. 

What You Should Do Instead During Those 3 Days

Actually, let me elaborate on that a bit. Feel free to do any or all of the following:

  • Cry
  • Yell (at an understanding audience, not your former boss)
  • Enjoy the unexpected day off, and try to enjoy being able to do things you normally don’t on a workday.
  • Take some deep breaths.
  • Indulge in a yoga class (speaking from personal preference here)
  • Go for a walk or hike
  • Get out in nature
  • I’m sure there are those among us who recommend a couple stiff drinks. Can’t speak to what a mental health professional would say, but sometimes this suits me just fine.
  • Find an understanding ear and talk about it

It’s easy for me to give you this advice now, and perhaps easy for you to listen to this advice now, when you are enjoying very much the reality of not being laid off.

But please consider this is a great opportunity for you to make a plan, even if it’s a back-of-the-napkin plan, for when you lose your job.

It’ll happen eventually, so your time and effort spent planning for that day won’t be wasted. I’ve written previously about how to prepare for losing your job. It’s all good advice to follow even if you’re not afraid of losing your job.

And, if I’m on my game, next week will welcome a blog post about what to do in the 2 weeks following being laid off, when starting to do something is more important than just standing there. (Though I might still recommend an extra yoga session or 2.)

Do you want to plan for life’s shit shows so you can handle them with some grace? Allowing you to more freely enjoy life’s wonders, both now and when the shit shows strike? Reach out to me at meg@flowfp.com or schedule a free consultation.

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Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.

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Bellingham, WA
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