8 Lessons I Learned From A Layoff

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg
3 min readMay 14, 2016


One year ago, I was given a white cardboard box to pack up my things and told that, along with several others, my job had been eliminated.

At first, I wasn’t sure how to respond. Whenever we’ve established a momentum with anything big in our lives — especially something as important as our careers — switching gears isn’t easy. So I started to do what comes naturally to me as I process: I wrote about it.

While I wrote, my resilient inner being decided to seize the opportunity and embrace this life-altering event head-on. First, we produced a series of blog entries; expanded to form The White Box Club Meetup; and eventually published The White Box Club Handbook. Each of these activities was more than just a healthy distraction — they began to form a platform of support for anyone in career transition.

During the past 12 months since I was laid off, here are 8 things I learned — or relearned — in my life:

Nothing is permanent. All things in life — work, relationships, and experiences — are constantly changing. Nothing stands still. In order to fully appreciate any experience, we must learn to enjoy the experiences as we have them. The present moment is our greatest opportunity for appreciation.

Opportunity can come when you least expect it. A layoff or major life transition is an opportunity to re-create oneself. This can include expanding a previous career direction or pursuing a new passion. Only you set the rules about what you can create next.

Everything will be all right. I had survived other challenges that life had thrown at me; I knew I would survive this layoff as well. There will be anger, frustration, and grieving, but like all other sudden transitions, this too will pass.

We are always growing. Everything in our world grows and expands, including us. Growth is part of the creative process that exists in all things and people. Even when it’s not our choice, going with the flow of life and releasing resistance to change always brings relief.

Transition is good. In fact, transitions and changes are a natural part of life. The more we embrace change, the faster we can integrate new experiences and people into our lives.

Not knowing is okay. We get pretty good at predicting the events of our lives — on most days — but the reality is that we have no idea what’s going to happen next. Building our tolerance for more ambiguity brings a gift — we don’t need to worry. We can rest in the knowledge that whatever change is coming will be best for our growth at this time.

It could be worse. Travel to a foreign country — particularly one that is impoverished — and you will know what I mean. Be thankful for the life you already have and the plethora of choices available to you, even after a sudden or unexpected transition. Many people wish they had it so good.

When in doubt, reach out. Friends and family are in your life for a reason. Reach out. Connect with them. Listen. Share. Appreciate. And repeat as necessary.

As we continue to navigate our way through life, it’s important to realize that we never really get there, but that life is a constant adventure and our road map is constantly being updated. There will always be challenges, but with every life transition, we can grow and be stronger.

Want more tips for daily living? Visit michaelsunnarborg.com/books and discover nuggets of wisdom for your mind, body & spirit. In addition, learn more about The White Box Club and The White Box Club Handbook: Simple Tools for Career Transition at thewhiteboxclub.com

Image credit: 12 50 Design, Asheville, NC

Originally published at michaelsunnarborg.com/blog



Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Transformation Coach| Author | Relentless Optimist | HuffPost, Medium, Thrive Global Blogger. Find clarity & balance on your career path. http://bit.ly/2qV87pg