Stop worrying about losing your job

A big reason most of us are unhappy with working in an office is due to fear.  We are afraid of losing our jobs and the paycheck that comes with them.  If we lose our jobs we think that the entire world will end.  We won’t be able to have a home or feed ourselves and our families.  We think of the worst possible thing and imagine how bad it would be if we lost our jobs.

It’s this fear that keeps us sitting in our cubicles day in and day out.  We may hate our jobs for years, but we are too afraid to do anything about it.  We don’t talk to people or stand up for ourselves because we are afraid of being fired.  We don’t take vacations because we don’t want to be seen as lazy.  We work all day without breaks so that we look like hard workers.

We don’t look for other jobs that might make us happier because we are afraid of change.  We ask ourselves what will happen if it doesn’t work out.  What if we don’t like our new boss?  What if we get laid off from that job?  We tell ourselves it’s scary out there.

This isn’t healthy.  It stresses us out constantly.  This kind of life gives a kind of stress that people have never experienced before the modern workplace.  It’s chronic stress.

It used to be that people were afraid of starving, or being killed by a lion, or falling off a cliff, or something truly dangerous.  Now we are afraid of losing a job title.  We are afraid of losing a paycheck.  Yes, we may starve because of it, but probably won’t.  It confuses us.  Our bodies can do things to fight off lions and starvation, but they can’t do anything to stop this chronic stress.

We spend our days doing our job.  We sit all day.  We fret about inconsequential things.  Then we sit in traffic on the way home.  Sometimes we have a few beers to relax on the really stressful days.  Then we wonder why we’re always tense and have to go to the chiropractor.

A life of fear won’t get you anywhere.  Even if you work the office job your entire life you’ll still probably die of the heart attack brought on by the stress.  We might make plenty of money and never have to change jobs.  On paper, we might be a total success.  Inside we’ll be a wreck.

I’ve met people who are 50 years old and have been working in their jobs for the past 30, yet they are still deathly afraid of losing their jobs.  What a hard life.

I propose that we give up this fear.  Let’s stop worrying about whether or not we have a job tomorrow.  Just stop worrying about it.  If you get fired tomorrow life will go on.  It won’t kill you.  You can find another job and another way to make money.  You can change your lifestyle if you need to.  You can become a hobo.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter.

The important thing to remember is that no matter how much you worry about something, you can’t stop it.  You can fret and worry and be afraid about losing your job, but it won’t change anything.  You will still get fired if they want to fire you.

By no means am I saying that you shouldn’t work hard.  Do your job and do it well.  Be the best at your job.  Be awesome at it, but don’t worry about losing it.  Worrying will only stress you out.  It won’t stop anything from happening.

Like a lot of people, I was laid off last year.  It really sucked.  I was working for a company that was having financial problems and they had to make cuts.  I was one of them.  I did a good job, showed up on time, was nice to everybody, and was all around a good employee.  I still got canned.

Losing a job sucks, but I think everyone should go through it once in their lives.  It helps to put things into perspective.  I had been worried for years about losing my job.  I didn’t know what I would do if I lost it.  I thought my whole life would fall apart.  It didn’t of course.  I was unemployed for a while, but I found something.  Everything worked out in the end.  It may take longer for some people, but things will work out.  Even if they don’t, you’ll be ok.

The big thing I realized though is that no amount of worrying would have helped me keep my job.  It was going to happen.  I was a great employee and I still got canned because of “budget changes”.  I wish I wouldn’t have been stressed out about it.  I wish I wouldn’t have been afraid of losing the job.  I could have really enjoyed my time there if I didn’t stress out about the possibility that I might be laid off.  What a waste of time and energy to be stressed for so long.

Just remember that even if the worst possible thing happens and you lose your job, your house, your family, your car, your clothes, and can’t even feed yourself, worrying about it won’t help.  Worrying everyday won’t do you any good.  Be prepared for things, but stop worrying.

Coming soon:  How to prepare for losing your job.


17 thoughts on “Stop worrying about losing your job

  1. You bring up many great points. It is all too easy to fret about losing your job but that really does not make for a happy outlook. Thanks for the fresh perspective.

  2. Pingback: Everyone should be ready to lose thier job « Surviving the Cubicle

  3. Pingback: Everyone should be ready to lose their job « Surviving the Cubicle

  4. Trent

    Of course, if the day ever comes that I lose my only source of income and have to take up residence under a bridge, I won’t worry one bit. So much easier done than said. Even if the ice addict who’s bridge I moved under is about to stab me with a used syringe, I still won’t worry, it doesn’t matter at all. I think C summed it up pretty well, so once again fuck you and your useless advice.

  5. kendra

    You’re right, worry won’t change an outcome such as being laid off but to tell someone that starving and being homeless is ok because “it all works out” is absolutely insane. You’re a stupid dick.

    1. Hey, I’ve been laid off twice over the past 6 years. It sucks. After the first time, I spent a lot of time worrying that it would happen again. Well that didn’t help, it still happened a second time. None of that worrying helped at all.

      What does help is to always be prepared to find a new job asap. Always keep your resume up to date. Always keep in contact with friends and business associates. And always keep working to better yourself and your career. Spending your time doing that is 100 times better than spending it worrying.

  6. Sabrina

    Your blog entry reminded me of a poem about worry I learned when I was 11 years old. Since it has served me well for many years, I’ll share it here: “Worry never climbed a hill,
    Worry never paid a bill,
    Worry never led a horse to water.
    Worry never cooked a meal,
    Worry never darned a heel,
    Worry never did a thing you’d think it oughter!”

    At the end of the day, we need to go by faith and not fear. The Lord will provide. That’s how I see it…and it hasn’t let me down so far.

  7. Sarah

    Thanks for the wonderful article. Earlier I felt that I had to search for something like this and I landed on your page. I think I need to find a way to stop worrying about every little thing. I have a lovely job but the fear of losing it is really killing me.

  8. Kim

    Thanks. I really needed to read this. I have been laid off twice and just landed and great job. Im worried again something will happen. I need to change my thinking and stop being fearful!

    1. Kim,

      Congrats on the new job! It’s very tough. Getting laid off twice is terrible. I went through it. You feel like nobody wants you.

      The best defense is a good offense. Constantly be working to build your career and resume. Get new experience as much as possible. And keep that resume up to date. Every 6 months to a year go interview somewhere to see what you’re worth.

      You can’t stop a layoff, but you can be prepared for one.

      Good luck!

  9. Peter

    I am 2.5 months into a new job as a Unix systems engineer. I got it after being laid off/fired 4 times since 2007. I have worked a grand total of 20 months in those 6 years — the Great Depression II thats still ongoing did not help. I really hope this one sticks but I feel so in over my head right now. So much to learn and put together that I am afraid my best won’t be good enough. Come home tired every day and do have a few beers. The worst are the sleepless nights. Today I am sick with a fever. I think the anxiety caused it.

    1. Have you ever thought about moving? There are places in the country that have such high demand for engineers it’s hard to keep them in a job because they are constantly getting better offers.

  10. Worker Bee

    Thanks for posting this entry. I’ve got constant anxiety about losing my job, even after great performance reviews and feedback, ever since being unemployed for over six months. My unemployed self would have scoffed at this article and the notion that “everything will be alright”, but, ultimately things have turned out better than I ever could have imagined a year ago.

    Seriously though, thanks for helping me keep things in perspective.

    1. I’ve found the best way to counteract that feeling is to always be on the look out for a new opportunity. Keep your resume ready and up to date every month. Every once in a while apply for a job and see what happens. If there are better offers out there, take advantage. And if you aren’t seeing any jobs out there that you are qualified for, work on adding those qualifications to your resume.

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