This article is from Ross of Go Be Rich.
There are two little words that have the power over grown men to make them sick to their stomachs, slightly light-headed, and generally feel about as big a mouse. They also happen to be Donald Trump’s two favorite words:
That’s right, two little words that can potentially shake up someone’s world to its very core. This unfortunate turn of events can be all the more painful if you’re not financially prepared for it, with 3-6 months of savings built up prior to getting the boot.
But, like I always try to do, I’ve found the good within these two words, although it wasn’t really too fun of a process.
This I learned from being fired myself.
In hindsight it’s probably one of the best things that have ever happened to me, and I’ll tell you why.
First off, I attended High School for 5 years. Before you get the wrong idea, it’s not because I was held back or failing my classes (although I admit I was far from the best student), but because my family and I moved 900 miles across the country from Kansas to Alabama during the summer after my junior year.
This understandably put me in a bit of a bad mood during my senior year…or what I thought was my senior year. Turns out Alabama requires more credits to graduate than Kansas does, and this is why I had an extra year of high school.
My First Career Path
I tell you this bit of my story to illustrate the fact that at the time I was a fairly ticked off adolescent. So when I finally graduated, I wasn’t really too motivated to do much of anything. My parents pushed me to decide on some sort of path to follow, and I thought it would be kind of cool to learn how to be a mechanic (just sitting here typing this out right now makes me realize how ridiculous this sounds… I suppose if you knew me you’d understand).
I made the jump from having an interest in the Fast and Furious movies to deciding that was going to be my career…not my brightest moment.
I moved back to Kansas and lived with my grandmother, who worked at a vocational school that had a 10-month technical certificate program in automotive technology. I finished this program, received my certificate, and was ready to fix some cars. I got a job at Pep Boys, and for a while I was content.
“A while” lasted about 2 or 3 months.
I quickly realized all I was going to get to do was change oil and tires. I started looking around for an independent shop that was hiring, one that would require a wider range of work out of me, granting me more experience and perhaps letting me work closely with someone who could teach and instruct me as well.
I found a place that fit the bill (a small used car dealership), and was even promised one-on-one attention with their master technician. I saw this technician once.
Same story as Pep Boys basically. In fact, the next couple of shops I worked at can be summed up similarly. Eventually I ended up at a busy general repair shop owned by a nice enough couple who employed one other mechanic, a guy I had gone to high school and through the technical certificate program with.
Just When Things Were Going Well
I thought it was going pretty well there. I was getting to do more and more things, the time seemed to go by pretty quickly, and I was developing a pretty good rapport with the owner.
Until one Friday morning.
It was just like any other morning, I came in and made my way back to where the time cards were kept, thinking nothing of the fact that the owner was hovering around the area. I said hi and he responded in kind, and we engaged in our usual morning banter… and out of the blue he donned a rather serious look on his face, while saying to me,
“I just don’t think this is going to work out.”
I truly had no idea what he was talking about, so I asked him. It became pretty clear when he said he was going to have to let me go, stating that there had been too many broken parts on my account, that I worked too slowly, and that I seemed lost in an automotive shop environment.
I can really only describe the feeling of having just been fired for the first and only time in my life as a dazed, unreal kind of feeling. I mean, this was me we were talking about. I don’t get fired. Getting fired is what happens to those other lazy people, not me!
Changing My Perspective
Turns out, my last auto repair shop boss was right…I was so concerned with putting my best effort into making the whole mechanic thing work that I couldn’t see that it just simply wasn’t a good fit for me.
I also felt like I had to justify the amount of money I had spent on the schooling, and more than anything I really needed to make this work out so that I didn’t look like an idiot to my family and friends for making such a quick, uninformed career choice that really seemed so out of character for me.
The point here is that being fired, while not a great thing for your immediate financial situation, can actually give you the opportunity you’ve been unwilling or unable to give yourself to do something you’ve always wanted to do, or at least to find some line of work that better suits you.
Related Post: COBRA Continuing Coverage: Insurance Once You’re Fired
Being fired this one time in my life put me on the track I’m on now. I realized I needed to go to “real” college and get some kind of degree, but this was also the time I began reading a lot of personal finance books, so I knew I also didn’t want to graduate with a lot of student debt…
There was only one answer- the military.
So, like every other youth who gets beat up by the real world, I called my father and admitted I had been wrong, and took his advice to join the Air National Guard (the Air Force… it’s kinda complicated), just like he said I should do straight out of high school.
This allowed me to get a degree debt-free, while also working on a career and gaining actual job experience. Now I make more money than I ever thought possible for my age, and where I’m at is really only a stepping-stone for where I’ll be going.
Yes, the more I think about it now, getting fired was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
(By the way, I drove by the shop I was fired from a couple of weeks later. They went out of business).
Go Be Rich is a blog written by a 24-year-old self-proclaimed nerd. This is no regular personal finance blog however; it’s a Personal Freedom blog. The mission of Go Be Rich is to aid those in the pursuit of getting out of debt, working for yourself, and living the life of your dreams. Follow Ross on Twitter at @GoBeRich and also on Facebook.