A year and a half ago today I was fired from my job. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
At the time, I worked as a service advisor for a car dealership. I was really good at what I did and was generously compensated for my abilities. I worked long hours, oftentimes staying late. Although I was good at my job I was ignoring my responsibilities to family and friends, as well as my mental and physical health and well-being.
The work ethic and skill-set I had honed for the better part of twenty years prior had become my character flaw. I chose greed and work-place success over my relationships with my wife and some of my oldest and dearest friends. I was missing countless milestones with my young daughter as well.
At the end of each workday I would attempt to disconnect from my job and I would fail. I carried much of my physical and emotional stress around with me; my omnipresent baggage tethered to my soul, always over-packed for the trip.
Several months before getting fired I had begun a journey of personal development. I sought answers to my deteriorating physical state, as well as to the psychological damage I was doing to myself and others. I read books like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek. I listened to audiobooks and podcasts that spoke to my innate desire for self-reflection and improvement. I started making small changes and adjustments in my life in hopes of becoming the person, family member, and friend I wanted to be.
I sought out the unnecessary and redundant outputs of my energy, particularly in my day job. I found so many wasted efforts in my position within my company and the day-to-day activities it required. I redirected where I could, and reduced and eliminated where I couldn’t. I stopped trying to make everyone happy. I stopped worrying about what others thought about me. In fact, I stopped thinking that in the infinite possibilities of what anyone was thinking or feeling, that I, or something I said or did, was the catalyst.
My energy and happiness increased, stress became reduced. Time with my family and doing the things I wanted to increased as well, but it was all only incrementally. It wasn’t enough.
I found it too easy to fall back into my long-established and reinforced habits of complacency, greed, anger, and apathy. The negative energy still held so much power over my being. I was handcuffed to my paycheck and a desk at a company I wasn’t happy at. I was doing work that didn’t satisfy me within an industry that only cared about what I had done for them lately; not about customers and, least of all, employees and their families.
Inevitably, my newly discovered philosophies, outlook on life and work-style adjustments came to the attention of my superiors. They were intrigued by my new ideas at first, but quickly reversed course when confronted by the radical changes I proposed. The status quo was just too sacred.
It was summer and the time had arrived to take my biannual journey to see my family on the east coast. I would take a precedent-shattering twelve days off of work, despite being told by a senior coworker and my direct superior that it was too much time. I was never formally forbidden it, so why not?
I enjoyed the lengthy trip and the reprieve from my typical daily responsibilities that came with it. I came back to work twelve days later recharged and refreshed, ready to continue adjusting my efforts to reflect my new-found outlook on life.
The first day back, as I was heading out for my lunch-hour, my manager asked if I would meet with him in the conference room. I could feel that something was up.
Immediately, I reflected in the understanding that I could not predict what was going to happen, or what my boss was thinking or intending. I decided it was just as likely that I was going to get a raise or a promotion as it was that I was about to be disciplined and agreed to meet with him.
The conference room sat within the general manager and owner’s office. My manager was waiting for me, seated with the company’s business manager and a representative from an outside human resource company that I had met previously in times of employee conflict resolution. The HR rep informed me that I was being terminated, effective immediately. I asked for the reason and was told they didn’t need one. The man went on stating that Colorado is an at will state, and they did not have to provide me with one.
I was not surprised by the decision, despite the year after year record earnings I had been creating for the company. I asked what my severance package would be and was told there would none. I was then escorted to my desk which I emptied nearly four years worth of personal effects into a cardboard box. I said goodbye to the few employees with work-spaces closest to my own and headed outside.
I walked over to my truck, parked on the street nearby. I placed the box on the seat and stripped off the ridiculously uncomfortable company-branded golf shirt I had been forced to wear for the past years. In that moment I remembered how much I relished getting out of those shirts at the end of each day. This would be the last time I would ever have to. Indifferently I tossed the shirt onto the floor of the backseat and put on the tank top I had made a regular practice of bringing to work with me for the hot summer drives home.
I called my wife and told her what happened. I said I loved her and that everything would be okay. I knew it was and knew it would be. I drove home at peace with the universe that day. It was my first drive home from work that I wasn’t carrying the day’s stress inside.
Strangely, and all things considered, I experienced a deep sense of relief. I had been fired from jobs two times before. The first time I was furious. The second I was devastated. This time was different. It was as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, or a cancerous tumor had been removed from my life.
Today, eighteen months to the day after, I sit at my kitchen table writing this story. I’ve gone on to become a paid professional writer. I have a casual part-time job that supplements my modest writing income. The job is even enjoyable at times and I’m blessed to be able to do my writing and other personal endeavors while I’m on the clock.
My relationship with my wife has improved. It’s as good as I can remember it being since we were dating. I’ve grown closer to my daughter as well. I consistently share in wonderful experiences and connections with both of them.
I’m no longer cranky and tired all the time. It only rarely happens—or as my wife might say, sometimes. I’m also more dedicated to exercise, and am blessed to be able to volunteer within the community almost every week.
There’s less income coming in these days, but we’re surviving. The entire family has embraced the trade of less money and material luxuries in favor of more time with a happier me. We have even spun our recently discovered minimalism into a lucrative side-hustle.
Eighteen months and two weeks ago I could be found brooding at my desk, frustrated and actively ignoring incoming phone calls. Today, I instead dropped my daughter off at school this morning, and will pick her up in a couple of hours as well. The highway traffic will be the only stress I’ll experience that I did not personally choose for myself.
A year and a half after getting fired from the job I was complacent with, but not-so deep down resented, I can state with certainty that life is great, and indeed so much better than before. It’s truly a blessing having the choice whether or not I will even get out of my pajamas for the day. So yes definitively, getting fired from my job was the best thing I have ever done for myself.
Written by John Andreula
Edited by Kodid-Laraque-Two Elk