Losing your job can be an emotional time.

Whether you get laid off or decide to leave, you may not be thinking straight.

It’s good to have a plan in place, or at least know where to find a plan (hint: this article) in the event that you do leave your job.

If you follow these 10 steps, the process will go much more smoothly…

1. Figure out what’s in it for you

If you’ve been with the company for a long time, you may have a decent severance coming.  Figure out what you will be getting, if anything, and figure out how the process works (when you will receive it and how).  If you do get a severance, it can be negotiable.  You may be able to get more than they initially offer, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.  Also, if you had insurance through your employer, figure out how long you will remain insured.

2. Roll over your 401(k)

As soon as you leave your company, roll over your company retirement plan into an IRA.  Make sure to do a direct transfer to avoid paying any fees or spending any of the money.  Remember, if you roll over a traditional 401k into a traditional IRA, it’s pretty simple.  Likewise with rolling a Roth 401k into a Roth IRA.  But if you roll a traditional 401k into a Roth IRA, you will need to claim it as income for that year due to the tax differences.

3. Stop spending money

Even if you were planning to leave your job, stop spending money until you figure out your entire plan.  You’re not currently receiving an income, even if you have a severance, so you will want to minimize spending as much as possible.  Cut every area back to the bare minimum.  If you’ve listened to my advice in the past, you should have a bare bones emergency fund, and that’s not meant to keep the lifestyle you were living when you had a job, unless you were living like you were unemployed.

4. Pull out your contacts

If you’ve been networking, you probably have some good business contacts.  The business world really is all about who you know.  Knowing the right person could get you a new career or a new job that you aren’t qualified for on paper.  Think back to everyone you’ve met and what they do.  If someone is doing something you would enjoy, contact them and see if there is a potential spot for you.

5. Polish your resume

It’s a good idea to keep your resume updated at all times, at least annually.  Now you’ll want to take out your resume and make sure it’s complete and accurate.  Tailor your resume to the specific company when you apply for a new job.  It’s obvious when you’re handing out a generic resume, and it’s also obvious when you take the time to make your resume fit the company you’re applying to.

6. Learn from the experience

If you weren’t a top employee, use this as a learning lesson to get better. It’s likely that you did nothing wrong. Either way, don’t be afraid to ask why you got laid off if your boss didn’t tell you, and use it as a growing tool.  You can learn from everything if you choose to, and this is a prime example of a good learning experience.  Your employer should respect your wishes to explain why you were laid off, especially if you explain that you want to know so you can learn from it and grow.

7. Look into unemployment

You may not want to take unemployment.  This is a personal decision.  Some people feel like it’s a handout, and it is your right to think about it however you choose.  However, you may need it.  Figure out if you qualify for unemployment, and take the help if you need it.  It may be the difference in staying above water and sinking.

8. Consider taking time off

If you have a fully funded emergency fund in place, consider taking this as a blessing, and spending some off-time with your family. It may not be a good time for an expensive Disney vacation, but you could spend some quality time with your family.  If the thought of taking a vacation stresses you out, consider finding a job first, you’ll likely still have time to take a short vacation before your actual start date.

9. Tell them thanks for employing you

You never want to burn bridges in the professional world. One way to help with that is to send a thank you letter to your boss for letting you work there.  This may be difficult, especially if you’re angry at their decision, but it will help you in the long run.  This is also a great way to make sure you can still use your boss as a quality reference.

10. Don’t rule out any job

If you’re set up with a strong emergency fund, then you have time to find the job of your choice.  If you’re struggling to put food on the table, take whatever you can find until you find the job of your choice.  You’re never too good to work at a fast food restaurant or a retail store.  You may have earned six figures at your last job, but right now you may just need to earn enough for necessities.  Don’t let your pride get in the way of your family’s needs.

Losing your job doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience.  You can choose to be happy in any situation.  Even if you feel like your world is falling apart, you still have the ability to choose to be happy.  And it will make life a lot easier.  Trust me.

Now go out and start the next chapter in your life!