Don’t Let the Economy Impact Your Career

Slow and steady wins the race

I am going to speak frankly today. Some of you will hate it, and others will appreciate it. Ya can’t make everyone happy at once, so here we go. :-)

Recently I received a copy of a survey that indicates 43 percent of workers believe their careers have slowed down and it will be harder and will take more time to achieve career growth as a result of the economy.

My initial thought? Those 43% of people probably wouldn’t be successful even if the economy had been booming.

In case you didn’t know it, people all over are getting better jobs, earning more than they ever have before, and really winning in their careers every single day. And they don’t give a darn about any recession. Why? What’s the difference?

They don’t think the economy has anything to do with their success. 

You know what? Barack Obama isn’t going to get you a job. He also didn’t take yours away. Same with George Bush. Unless you’re one of the 2-3 people working as his assistants, he didn’t give you a job. Stop blaming them. Stop looking to them for help with a job. That is your responsibility, and as long as you keep looking to others for that sort of support you will never truly be successful.

But I lost my job in the recession…

I admit, this is a hard pill to swallow for those who have lost a job recently. It might seem like there’s no end to the job searching madness. But there really is.

I have a number of friends who have told me that a job loss in their life was actually a blessing in disguise. It forced them to leave a job they felt trapped in. It forced them to stop and look at what they truly love to do.

For the short term, finding any job will do. Just keep food on the table and the lights on, and then start looking at your long term goals (more on that below).

I had a similar experience, though less dramatic/painful than many.

A few years ago I was searching for a job frantically. I hated where I was, and I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Finally I interviewed and was hired at my current employer, and it’s been an amazing journey so far. The kicker? My old employer closed about a month after I left.

I keep looking back and thinking of how close I was to the brink. I had two small babies at home, and there was no way we could have survived on my wife’s income. Say what you will, but I think God put this opportunity in my life at the exact time it happened for a reason.

I’m putting this information out there not as a way to kick someone who is already down or to make people angry. I’m doing it to encourage everyone that there really is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m speaking to a large group of people today:

  • If you’ve lost your job
  • If you are working, but you think you’re going to lose your job
  • If you are working, and you want out of there because you hate it
  • If you are just interested in doing something meaningful and purposeful with your life

If you fit into any of those categories, read on. I have some tools and strategies to help you not only find “a job,” but a new opportunity that will change your life for the better.

The career rule everyone should know

For those of you who are feeling disheartened with regard to your career, I offer this reminder: your career is what you do, not who you are. You still have other areas of your life that need and deserve attention, including physical, financial, marital, emotional, spiritual, etc.

Want to feel better about your life in general? Spend some quality time with your family (NOT in front of the TV or texting on cell phones). Go out for a walk/run and get your heart rate up. Set aside ten minutes of quiet time in the morning where you don’t do anything but prepare yourself for the day. Volunteer with a charity. Pay off some debt.

You’d be surprised at how your perspective of the “problem” areas of your life change once you start focusing on the others.

Take the long view

You are the same today you’ll be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read. In every turning point and crisis of my life, there’s always been a book that helped me think and see more clearly and keep laughing and keep looking up and keep my mouth shut.
Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

Have you taken the time to honestly think about where you want to be in five years? Yes, it seems like it’s a long way off, but that’s how successful people think. Some people only think about the week-to-week. They may have worked somewhere for 20 years, but they just have 20 repeats of the same year of experience, not 20 years of increasing responsibility and challenges. I know which one I’d prefer to hire. Successful people think about what they can do today to get to where they want to be 5 or 10 years down the road.

Back to the long view. Where do you want to be in five years? What do you want to be doing? Who do you want to be working with? Where will that take place? Here’s a little story I’ve come to love about the importance of believing in yourself and never ceasing relentless forward progress:

The story is told that one night in 1990 when Jim Carrey was a struggling young comic trying to make his way in Los Angeles, he drove his old beat-up Toyota to the top of a hill. While sitting there, broke, looking down over the city, and dreaming of his future, he wrote himself a check for $10 million, put in the notation line ‘for acting services rendered,’ and dated it for Thanksgiving 1995. He stuck that check in his wallet – and the rest, as they say, is history.

By 1995, Jim had seen the tremendous success of Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, The Mask and my personal favorite, Liar, Liar. His per film fee at that point had escalated to $20 million.

Was writing that check just a meaningless trick or did it really set the stage in some way for his eventual success? (Source)

Five years. Think about it. Do you need to write yourself a check as a tangible, visible reminder of what you’re capable of?

The tools

If you missed it, please go back and reread the quote above about the importance of books in changing the direction of your life. Their importance should not be underestimated. Here are a few of the tools I’ve had success with that I would recommend for those needing a “career makeover,” whether in the form of a new job or creating something out of thin air.

  • 48 Days to the Work You Love-This book is an amazing resource for helping you determine what you really want to do. Dan Miller provides insights and advice to help you walk through a 48 day “process” to finding work that is meaningful, purposeful, and profitable for you.
  • Quitter: Closing the Gap Between your Day Job and Your Dream Job-Jon Acuff gives you some ideas on how to bridge the gap if you’re interested in doing something different. Good stuff.
  • The $100 Startup-Chris Guillebeau is a young guy who set a goal to travel to every country in the world before he turned 30. He’s a few months away at this point and only has a few countries to go. He blogs about this and his own entrepreneurial adventures, providing great transparency into how you, too, can start your own venture.
  • Total Money Makeover-Often, personal finance and career decisions go hand in hand. If you have $40k in student loans, $25k in car payments, and $6k on a credit card, you are normal. You’re also broke, and that means you probably feel trapped in whatever job you have due to the burden those financial decisions put on you. This book is a great tool for getting started with digging out of the mess and living like no one else. Don’t be normal, be weird!
  • Side gig-Find something that taps into your inner creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve started this little side business that provides so much fulfillment that I can’t imagine ever letting it go. Everyone can do something. So… What do you want to be when you grow up?

Note: this is not a two year process of figuring out what you want to do. The actual implementation might take that long, but the time necessary for figuring out what you want to do is much shorter. Think about what you can do to serve others whether as an employee or an entrepreneur, and get started. As Dave Ramsey says, hard work is a surefire moneymaking scheme.

Wrapping up

Again, this is not a post designed to beat up someone who is out of work. This is an encouragement–a kick in the butt for those who should be taking advantage of this opportunity to find out what they really want to do with the rest of their working lives. I believe that everyone has something special to offer. A gift that they desperately need to share with the world. It’s your job to find out what it is and how to utilize it in what you do.

Have you made a career change that resulted in you being happier and more fulfilled with your work? I’d love to hear about it!

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