by David B. Bohl
Let’s be honest. When the world is in crisis, or at the very least you perceive crisis is about to occur, your personal performance is the first to go. Maybe you’re worried about your investments. Maybe you’re thinking that layoffs are imminent, or that a salary freeze and hiking grocery bills will cripple your goal to start saving for the kids’ college.
Maybe there’s been a reorganization at your firm, or a move to a new location, and chaos has ensued.
If you’re having trouble focusing lately, here are a few good reasons to clear those cobwebs out of your head and get a survival plan in place:
1. You don’t know where your company will be tomorrow
2. You don’t know if you’ll still be employed at this company
3. The financial future is extremely uncertain at this time
4. Living expenses continue to increase
I’m not trying to paralyze you in fear by listing out these possibilities. What I AM trying to do is point out reasons why it’s smart to prepare for change. Our friends in the southern states recently suffered the blows of Hurricane Ike and are now slowly and painfully picking up the pieces. Homes and lives were lost. How do you think it would feel to have life as you know it ripped out from beneath you? Would you be ready, if something major happened tomorrow?
While a disaster, whether natural, financial, or otherwise, sometimes cannot be avoided, it pays to think ahead and be ready for whatever may come your way. Instead of anxiously scanning the news headlines, engaging in heated arguments over the nation’s politics, downloading Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin parody, or otherwise frittering away your precious hours, why not mentally and physically prepare for what may come?
I dare you to start putting the following plans into action TODAY!
1. Take stock of your on-the-job performance.
Survey all that you’ve managed to accomplish over last year. Gather evidence – including reports you’ve helped create, presentations you’ve given, sales performance reports that indicate improvement based on plans and procedures that you’ve implemented, and all creative projects that you were involved with. Create two “Accomplishments” folders for yourself – one that will live on your computer, and the other that you can hold in your hands. Print documents; make copies; email it all to your personal email account.
2. Update your resume and find your “personal selling points”.
To help you identify your most marketable traits, take a look at that Accomplishments Folder that I talked about in point 1. Based on your accomplishments, in what areas do you excel? How might this appeal to a future employer? If you’re having trouble with this, talk with a personal coach, who can help you define your core strengths. Not confident in your writing? Pass the assignment to a resume writing expert who will know the right words to use that will play up your best characteristics. Add keywords to your resume that hiring managers might search for on sites like Monster.com.
3. Have some face time with your financial advisor.
If you’re feeling shaky about your money, now is a great time to team up with your investments guy and have him take a look at your portfolio. At the time of writing this (October 2008), financial experts are suggesting to “spread out” your money over several different banks if you have more than $100,000.00 in assets. Check to make sure that your financial institution is FDIC insured. Look into global investments. Our economy might not be in the best shape right now, but there is money to be made with international stocks. Your financial advisor will help you to make the right decisions on what to do with your money.
4. Arm yourself with a list of trusted contacts.
With the world in such a state of flux, there is no better time than to firm up your connections with people who may be of service to you and vice-versa. Sites like http://linkedin.com and http://Facebook.com are bringing together friends and acquaintances from decades past. Now is the time to get back in touch with that former employer who always had rave reviews for your work…. that kid from your first grade class who now owns his own marketing company. Get phone numbers, email AND mailing addresses. You really just never know when you’ll be needing these!
5. Get and give testimonials.
While you’re reaching out to people, be sure to get recommendations and testimonials from those who know and trust you. If you don’t have any yet, then start by giving some out. Offer public praise to people whose skills have benefited you. LinkedIn.com offers an easy way to add testimonials right to someone’s profile. If you’re an online business owner, then take an hour out of your day to write up testimonials to the people who have helped you get where you are today. Start the gratitude ball rolling; do it today!
5. Create a “consulting portfolio” (even if you aren’t ready to become a consultant yet).
Okay, so you may have no intention of leaving your job at this time, and you may even feel super secure in your position. All of this is great! But again, being prepared will put you two steps ahead of the game; so if you possess any skills that can be easily transferred to the consulting realm, now is the time to play those up.
(To shed some light on just HOW easy it is to begin consulting; if you get a bite for freelance work, take it. You can easily report this extra income in the 1099-MISC area of your tax return.)
Get a website! Hosting is less than $200 per year and a domain name is as little as $6.00. Take those skills that you identified in points 1 and 2 above, and transfer them to an online resume or personal portfolio page that shares professional information about you to the world. Think of all the people out there, searching Google for something you might be able to offer them. The smartest people are getting out into the virtual world and being seen!
There are many other ways to “hunker down” and be prepared for the unexpected in today’s swiftly changing world. Look into side income possibilities, like investment properties. Things like laundromats and vending machines are also great ways to pocket extra cash. And, don’t forget to retrain your mind for bargain shopping. Be on the lookout for bulk deals on things you know you’ll always need – like toilet paper!
While some things are most definitely out of your control, other facts of your life and your future are easily managed. The key is to put yourself “in charge” of the things that you CAN change for the better. Once you do this, you’ll be able to buckle down and give your job the full attention it deserves. After all – it’s what they pay you for, and you want to continue being paid. Right?