Skills needed for getting ahead in a Recession
Hawkston 2008-12-24 11:21:58
Skills needed for getting ahead in a Recession
It seems that there is very little good news and cheer this year end; Christmas is here, but there's not much celebrating going on. Being out in public, one encounters a lot of tired, worried faces and a barrage of advertising from retailers that only adds to the anxiety instead of encouraging shopping.
With over 4.5 million people receiving unemployment benefits in the US and more layoffs to come in the first quarter of 2009, there's a lot of worry. That 4.5 million does not include the unemployed whose benefits ran out or who were self employed and didn't qualify for unemployment when they shut down this year. To double that number and call the number of employable people living with marginal or no income 9 million would probably be conservative.
This month has been a huge focus on what tangible goods are being bought and sold, what people are giving for presents. In a time of decreasing financial security, we are looking at what toys to buy to put under the tree. It's as if we should forget about the problem and believe that buying a (insert item here) will make everything ok for the kids and the spouse.
The reality is that the situation is not going to get better (2007 type employment and incomes) for at least a year if not longer. That's a real wake up call for everyone. It's going to be a tough couple of years, but some people are going to get through these times in good shape. Some people are even going to come out of all of this better than where they started. The key to their sucess will be in certain skills that they will put to work on a daily basis.
1. Self-Reliance. The folks who are going to profit in the current econimic crisis know that the government is not going to save them. For that matter, no one is going to save them but themselves. If they do recieve unemployment funds or a stimulus bonus (or any kind of monetary windfall) they will use those funds to secure additional income sources, relieve debt levels and build a bigger financial safety net. Self-reliant people will continue to look for ways to advance themselves and preserve their resources outside of paychecks from employers. Self-reliant people will find ways to cut their costs even if it means sacrifice of personal comfort (public transportation instead of driving their own car). Self-reliant people will keep their eyes open for new opportunities.
2. Education. People who have continued learning AFTER leaving school stand a far better chance of prospering during the upcoming years. Anyone who learned to read and do basic math has the tools to continue to learn; enrollment in a college is not necessary. Some people will go back to school during the next few years, borrowing money to pay for their tuition and graduating with a new degree or certificate and a bigger debt load as well as having to start at the entry level of a new job ladder. Other people will have gotten on-the-job training by working, often learning the same information as they got paid without acquiring debt. In the same two years, the degree/certificate holder will be looking for their job (with no experience) that is being done by the worker who was promoted into the job and has work experience and a resume. Additionally some people will learn how to manage their money, creating income streams that build their wealth base. Other people will read and educate themselves enough to invent and innovate new products or concepts that they will use to create new businesses. These people are the people who will eventually turn the tide on the economic crisis for everyone.
3. Optimism. People who pratice looking for something good or positive instead of being caught up in the depression that is infecting our communities will be more functional, healthier and more productive. People who smile, people who do something little to help other people are the people who will suffer less on the inside during the bad times. These people will have more energy and will not need to spend time recovering emotionally as things get better. These people will be more likely to be given opportunities by employers, more likely to be hired and more likely to be given assistance when they ask for it.
4. Frugality. People who know how to practice frugality or delayed gratification will be able to take minimal resources and make them last for a very long time. The difference between buying a bottle of dried basil ($3.50 plus tax) for cooking and a seed packet ($1.50 plus tax) to grow basil for cooking doesn't seem like much, but the seed packet has enough seed for 50 basil plants. At that point, the frugal grower can trade basil to neighbors or family for other stuff, sell some seedlings (30 seedlings at $0.75 each is $22.50 income) or sell fresh basil leaves to local restuarants. People who learn to recycle and create value from something others see as valuless, take the profit to increase their operations and make more value will come out way ahead of those who immeadiately use and spend what ever comes into their hands.
5. Adaptable. People who can change their situations quickly to respond to new challenges or opportunities will suceed where those who can't will be stuck in a steadily worsening mess. The Financial Advisor who has been laid off and is holding out for another $60K position in the Financial Planning field instead of taking a job doing anything else is in a downward spiral. The Financial Advisor who takes a part-time job tutoring MBA students while continuing to circulate their resume and going on interviews is at least slowing the spiral. The Financial Advisor who moved out of New York and got a full time job doing bookkeeping for a large dairy company in Michigan actually is making enough to feed their family, pay their rent and have money to save. Additionally, the dairy company was impressed by the knowledge of money management that the ex-Financial Advisor brought to the table and increased the scope of their job to include investment of company finances with a quartely cash bonus. So the kids had to change schools, so it meant moving to a new state, so it meant a smaller yearly salary - in the final evaluation none of those possible objections were more important than providing income and growth for the family. It's sort of a Darwinism - if you can't change and adapt to the new environment, you are going to cease.
6. Giving. People who can give will do much better than people who can't give. Giving is not about money, it is about sharing resources. People who have no money still have time. Sometimes, Time is more important than Money. No matter what a person has to give, people who give are more likely to enjoy Reciprocity than those who don't give. The person who stands on a corner and asks you (and everyone else) for change - do you want to give them a buck? The mother of your child's best school friend who lost her job and is home most of the time, offers to have your child come play every afternoon, saving you afternoon day care costs - are you more likely to do something for her? Give personally - not facelessly. Giving personally puts a face on generosity and inspires others; giving facelessly often goes un-noticed and is under appreciated. Get involved with your local community and give of your time, your knowledge and your strength. Give without expecting something back - the expectation reduces the opportunity of Reciprocity. Reciprocity is wierd and unpredictable, but it does work when there is room for it. Reciprocity also works negatively but then it is usually called Pay Back or Retaliation.
As the year closes out and we stumble ahead into 2009, take a look at your skills and your situation. Maybe you will find that the best gift you can give this season is a little brush up on the skills that will make 2009 a better year for you and those around you.
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