Using Story to Move Forwards After Redundancy

Move forwards after redundancy: writing your story when it feels like it’s been torn apart


When you are made redundant, it takes you by surprise. The rug is pulled out from under you.  You come to the crossroad and need to choose, to move forwards after redundancy. But which way is forward? How do you even make the first move? It’s all well and good to talk about dreams. But, what about when reality is as frightening as a nightmare, and we just wish we could wake up. 

Are you are standing at the crossroads of redundancy wondering what next? Here is a way to refocus your story by telling the story of possibility. A story where there is no ending: a story of VISION. You can plot a course of action. Use the prophetic voice to tell a story of the future by laying one piece of track at time.

Ask the magic ‘IF’

Your story needs to include an aspiration of possibility. Musing as if it’s going to happen; or already happening. Open up the possibilities of what could happen and give yourself choices that you play out. 

Making that call might open a door you didn’t know was there.  Maybe you just go a different way than the route you usually take.  What if you stepped outside into the sun and decided to ride your bike bike instead of taking the car or train?  You may meet people in the hidden club of cyclists who understand the ins and outs of life in the cycle lanes.  Perhaps, you pit your nerves against unpredictable white van drivers and lorries.  You arrive at your destination with a new idea and feeling of accomplishment.

Address your fears

Another way to move forwards after redundancy is to ditch the goal setting and do some Fear Setting.   Tim Ferris talks about how he dealt with his bipolar disorder using this method. What if the worst thing happened?  What would you do?  Where are some unlikely places help would come from?  These set-backs and disasters are really where the story gets exciting.  You and your listener experience urgency, excitement and tension.  Do not underestimate the power of tension!  Tension gives a story shape.  It insists we move with urgency.  Movement is life and life is movement as you cannot live amid obstruction or tension forever.  Crisis carries with it opportunity. You will find depths to your soul and sharpen your senses, becoming skilful and resourceful like a character roleplaying. Your story starts when your world blows up.

Your collective wisdom

You may feel like the sky is falling the world is caving in and you are not one of the chosen few. However, don’t forget to release your own collected wisdom and experience into the story.  Actors call it ‘Given Circumstances’ . This is identifying what you actually know to be true. Now check your evidence.  How have you experienced this before?  What have you learned from other tough situations?  Can you spot the essential ingredients in things going well. What do you know doesn’t work. Common Sense. Simple Wisdom.  Home Truths.  Doctor and writer Atul Gawande developed a simple checklist for doctors of obvious things to ask patients. Tis included basic questions like ‘how did this happen?’ and ‘are you allergic to anything?’.  The result?  The average number of complications and deaths dipped by 35 percent.

Also, don’t forget –it’s your imagination. What if you could just cut the Gordian Knot instead of spending the rest of your life untying it?  Take the shortest route.  Wisdom is about resourcefulness; not resources. 

Have a dream

When pitching, it’s the one with the vision or the IDEA that wins the business.  Remember Martin Luther King said “I have a Dream.” It wasn’t I have a plan. Geniuses see connections between things no one else can imagine.  To invent the new you need to make it up and IMAGINE all that is possible and seemingly impossible. It’s your life.  You write the script. Here is a poem by Milton P Ehrlich called the Open Door which illustrates this aspect beautifully.  The door is just a door until you step through it.  


The Open Door

Stranded before a medieval tabernacle,

my soul feels like a fish out of water

flapping around on a cold marble floor

until I enter an open door into a world

where everyone lives like a God—

in awake-ness, in moments of attention,

as it was for me during my toddler years.

I savour my breath as if I never breathed before.

Everything seems new as I discover

what I didn’t know I knew.

I see glowing skeletons enjoying erotic calisthenics,

and pass ice plants, stinging nettles and wild radish.

Smiling grizzly bears, bobcats and jackrabbits abound.

A red-tailed hawk flies over damselflies and velvet moths.

Curiosity is the key to what is.

I vow to never let anything get in my way to the joy of letting go.

The door is just a door.


— Milton P Ehrlich


Stacia Keogh


Stacia KeoghStacia Keogh is the founder of StoryPreZ: Story Mentor and Presentation and Pitch Coach. She is a performance storyteller, and acts on stages internationally.

She is currently working with Changemakers Disruptors, Challengers and Entrepreneurs who are stepping into their own story to share their wisdom on panels, giving acceptance speeches and signature talks. She works in association with Kaplan, Bite Size Learning , The Storytellers, Lambert Smith, Hampton, Gov UK, and Flourish PR as a communications trainer covering subjects such as Personal Impact, Change Management, Team Building, Public Speaking, Business Storytelling and Pitching.

Listen to her weekly radio show on Marlow FM 97.5 Wednesdays 10-12 featuring Stories From The Marketplace and the people behind them.

Join The Redundancy Recovery Hub for more support on moving forward after redundancy.