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Ageism: You can “refire” after job loss

LarryFreeborgToday’s post is a gift from my friend and colleague Larry Freeborg, a life transition coach who has been coaching people in successful life planning for 30 years. Job loss at any age is difficult. Job loss after 50 can be devastating. Turning that loss into opportunity is what Larry helps people do. His current focus is working with people in the “Bonus Years” of their lives – helping them learn how to “refire vs. retire.”  Here’s Larry:

So, you’ve just been informed that at 50 (or 55, or 60, or 65), you’ve been terminated. Your job has been eliminated through downsizing, rightsizing, merger, or a new management focus. Perhaps the business you have been employed with for years has just gone out of business!

You’re feeling stunned, bewildered, shocked that you’re in this predicament. You were content. You were making a good income and you still have to create an income to live and survive. You’ve heard about age discrimination and you’ve begun to experience it as you look for a job. Maybe it was even part of the reason you were let go. Now what?

Larry Freeborg

Larry Freeborg

Certainly, this is an opportunity to be discouraged. It’s been hard to remain positive and almost impossible to see that you have a great, perhaps even more satisfying and fulfilling future ahead of you. If you are looking for the inspiration and know-how to make choices that add more meaning, joy and purpose to your life, climb on board. This article is for you.

From my life experiences in dealing with major losses, I’ve learned one guiding principle that I live by. We’re always at choice! We’re not at choice about what happens to us, but we are at choice about how we handle what comes our way. It can be either “ain’t it awful” or “isn’t it great?” but it’s impossible to be in both mindsets at the same time.

Given that choice is an option, I’d like to talk about how this can be a great time in your life.

Life has thrown you a curveball – an event that’s causing you to transition to a new way of living and thinking. Now, how do you make the best of it?

First, grieve

One thing. It’s important to know that grieving takes time. It’s also important to know that it generally goes through phases:

  1. Disbelief
  2. Yearning
  3. Anger
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

While it’s commonly believed that depression and sadness are the overriding emotions experienced by those in grief, Holly Prigerson, PhD and her team of researchers at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute have found yearning is the predominant emotion. People grieving a loss yearn for things to return to what they once were. They yearn to go back to a time that once was and is now over. They yearn and pine with a hunger for life to return to the way it used to be.

Then, move on

However, reality is. Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is it! There are no do-overs. Life is short, and my view is that it’s important to not spend more time grieving than is necessary. I am not trying to diminish grief, but I do encourage people to learn about grief in order to move through it as expeditiously as possible.

Learning to live with loss requires you to:

  • Accept and adapt: Recognize that the loss is permanent and adapt to the new reality.
  • Release and let go: Identify when you are yearning and instead choose to let go of the old dream in order to design a new one.
  • Transition: Realize when you are resisting letting go; understand that you must let go of one trapeze to catch the next one.
  • Move on: Focus on your new beginning.

At choice

We are always at choice, including the decision we make about earning an income for ourselves and those who depend on us. When making a choice about how to create your livelihood, I encourage you to ask yourself:

  • What are the possibilities for my one life given that there aren’t any “do overs?”
  • At this stage in my life, do I want work that will leave me feeling satisfied and fulfilled or just work for money?
  • Since I am always at choice, what do I want to create for my life beyond simply the means to live?


Continuing your internal dialog, you might say: I’ve already lived 50 to 65% of my life. This is an opportunity to do something that brings me more joy and a sense of fulfillment. This is a good opportunity for me to define what that is and find it or create it. If you choose “Refirement” instead of retirement, you have these possibilities and many more:

  • I enjoy my work, and I find it very satisfying and fulfilling. I am making a difference. I want to keep doing what I am doing.
  • Given the opportunity, I want to continue working, but at a slower pace. I would like to have better life balance of work and play and not be so stressed.
  • I have several dreams I would like to fulfill in my life, such as drive a motorhome across the United States or travel to some of the many foreign countries that I have always wanted to visit.
  • I could write a book.
  • I would enjoy learning a new hobby.
  • I want to visit and play with my grandchildren more.

Action Questions

There are many enjoyable and fulfilling things I can do in my “refirement” years.

  • What life can I create for myself by taking that first step?
  • What obstacles – limiting mindsets – prevent me from taking action to create my new adventure?

Thanks to Larry Freeborg for sharing his “Refirement” approach. Larry’s blog at Living The Good Life on Purpose.com shares many of his thoughts on how to create a fulfilling, satisfying life after major loss in one’s life. His unique experiences in life coaching are blended with facilitating businesses in strategic planning, guiding them in business development (marketing and sales), leadership and personal development at SteppingThroughTheGate.com. Larry is available for coaching and speaking engagements with his popular “Refire, Don’t Retire!” and “Life Purpose Primer” programs. Contact Larry at larry@livingthegoodlifeonpurpose.com.

More about Larry Freeborg

Larry’s personal experiences with major loss taught him the valuable lessons of dealing with loss and grief. When his wife died from leukemia at 39 years of age, he became a widower with four children ages 9 to 16.

Ten days after the funeral he was told to terminate 10 people in his department, and in the next 5 months he learned that his job was eliminated in a company he’d been employed at for 18.5 years. He had no wife, no money, no job, and four children to raise when unemployment was 10-12% and interest rates were 18-20%. Larry started his new beginning in the Psych Ward. His recovery process formed the foundation of his coaching practice.


Ageism: How to recognize ageism at work and in your job search

Ageism: When you are the obstacle

Ageism: Find a company, not a job

LiveCareer's Job Action Day series offered dozens of articles by career experts regarding job search for older workers. They are featured at JobActionDay.com along with more information and on Career Satisfaction After 50.

LiveCareer’s Job Action Day series offered dozens of articles by career experts regarding job search for older workers. They are featured at JobActionDay.com along with more information and on Career Satisfaction After 50.

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