Thursday, March 26, 2009

Riding out the storm

“Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their . . . supply of food . . . and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year’s supply of debt and are food-free.” President Thomas S. Monson, “That Noble Gift— Love at Home,” Church News, May 12, 2001, 7.

Being debt free and having a supply of food is good start, but one of the most important preparations we can make in the present hard times, is for the loss of our employment. Life has no guarantees except that it will end. We cannot assume that the job we now have will continue. Companies go out of business, government budgets are cut, partners disagree, the ways that employment can end are themselves endless.

What can we do to prepare for the loss of a job? Unfortunately, many people strongly identify their self worth with their employment. This is evident when people are asked to introduce themselves, in the great majority of times (especially men) define themselves by the type of work they do. Reference is repeatedly made to the fact that men who retire suffer more physical and mental illness than those who continue working. This is especially true for professionals, whose lives are wrapped up their work. Coping with the loss can be overwhelming.

The starting point for an assessment of our job capabilities is a realistic inventory of our actual job skills. It is also important to evaluate whether or not your particular skills are needed in the geographic area in which you are presently employed.

Although I have been employed as an attorney most of my life, I left the profession voluntarily for more than six years to work in computer businesses. I distinctly remember driving home from the law office one day, thinking about my skills and possible job opportunities and realizing that I didn't have to be a lawyer. I think that this realization never comes to those who make no effort to broaden their skills and interests. I am constantly reminded of this when I see friends spending months and months pursuing replacement employment with the exact same job description and in the exact same geographic area.

An important part of our preparedness is broadening our job skills and becoming more adaptable to changing times.

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