Looking around, you realize that in today`s economy, getting a new job is going to be tough. If you get a job at all, it likely won`t cover your current bills. A creeping anxiety begins to slide through your mind, wondering how you`re going to survive all this.
I know, it happened to me. It took 5 years before I stabilized (but I`m older than 55). As today`s economists like to say, my life isn`t back to any kind of normal but at least it`s not in free fall! In fact, I`ve hit bottom and finally can begin to see what "up" looks like.
As a result, I`ve been thinking about lessons learned. What single thing would I say to those folks just now are starting to go off the cliff? What do I look back on and wish I`d done better or differently?
In fact, perhaps others who`ve gone through this will add their One Major Lesson or rule of thumb.
From my perspective, I wish I`d had a more realistic comprehension that my life and lifestyle had irrevocably changed! I wish I`d been much faster to accept a radical trauma, and deal with it accordingly. I didn`t. I kept thinking I could keep my lifestyle going, and things would get better "soon."
In the past, most people would have a major change to their job or health, and immediately understand that "things have changed." They`d understand the likely permanence of that change. Not today!
Today, everyone and their brother or sister doesn`t want to hear about realistic! They tell everyone about how "that`s just negative thinking." If you try to plan on a worst-case scenario, you get no help at all because you`re just .....fill in your favorite idiotic cliché....
I grew up in the 60s, back when losing a job was hard but not all that hard. There was lots of work, plenty of places for skills, and if you worked the streets you could usually get back up and running in about 30-90 days. That was then, this is now.
Today, we have a massive glut on the skills market. Age is a huge factor. We`ve got retiring Baby Boomers competing with young folks for a dwindling number of jobs. Career jobs aren`t the same as minimum wage, but even there, we have tremendous competition.
Our lifestyle is shrinking, but prices are going up as the US dollar loses the last remaining vestiges of any value. That`s leading to longer gaps between losing one job and finding another.
When it begins, you have to right-away understand this is the way things are going to be! Not pretend that you can keep your current lifestyle going. All you`ll accomplish will be to spend all your money on debt that you can`t afford any longer.
People say, "let go and let God." They mean that you should hope that God will produce a personal miracle and things will "just happen" somehow. They tell you that you`re thinking too much, planning too much, and so forth.
But one of the fundamental and most powerful traits of the human being is the ability to plan! Without our imagination, we wouldn`t be able to plan farther ahead than the next meal...! If we were designed to live like birds, planning nothing and simply existing, then we`d have bird brains.
To plan, means to also have a firm grasp on reality. It means to understand what realistically IS going to happen if you don`t immediately walk away from your high-salary lifestyle while you still have some money left. It means understanding that math is math, it isn`t a matter of opinion!
And that`s where everyone tells you that you`re just being "so negative." Of course they`re still working. They`re still bringing in money. They still believe the nonsense they hear in the news media. Their lives are still sailing along smoothly.
Don`t fall for it.
If you`re about to lose your job, take the money and run! Run like crazy away from all debt. Conserve as much as possible, and cut all your expenses to the minimum.
Then, when you think you`re at the minimum, cut all your expenses in half! When you lose your job and run out of money, you`ll be astonished at how much more you can cut from your expenses!
But if you put on the happy glasses, turn that frown upside down, and believe that if only you wish hard enough your life will be magically fixed, you`re going to be quite annoyed.
The government and we, the people, have been living on credit for half a century. There`s no possible way to sustain that lifestyle. If you don`t have the income to continue today, then you`re done. You`re out of the game. You`re not going to have that income again unless you`re one of the rare exceptions.
Learn that! Understand it immediately, and initiate your Emergency Plan. (You have one, right?) If you try to start a business, it`ll take at least a year to get enough revenue to pay yourself a salary. You likely won`t be able to match your career salary until quite a while later.
So think about what you`ll do if you lose your job! Examine your expenses. Consider whether or not credit cards, borrowing, loans, leases, and a credit rating will keep a roof over your head for the next 20 years if you lose your current job.
The activator is just that: losing your current salary. Realistically, you probably won`t see it again for a very long time. And that`s not negative thinking. It`s probability assessment and trend analysis.