Advantage Career Solutions
Richard Phillips, Career Counselor and Coach
"People are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus

React Wisely



When the economy takes a turn for the worse, we are all faced with what to do. Luckily, we do have the choice to "react wisely" which is my little mnemonic for reminding myself and my clients of what to do to survive and hopefully, even thrive. So, all you have to do is...

Remember it has happened before and will happen again. Business is a cycle and it has its ups and downs. The up times don't last, but luckily, neither do the downturns. Here in Silicon Valley, we have a tendency toward short-term memories. I think it is probably a side effect of the constant innovation that renders things obsolete so quickly.

Expect a lot of "doom and gloom" scenarios. Learn to ignore them or at the very least, discount them. As my friend Fritz the Financial Planner observes "When the economy is growing, the media is full of news about how this time there will be no downturn. When the economy is shrinking, the media is full of news about how this time it can't recover. The best thing to do in good times and bad is don't pay any attention to the news." Or better yet, make your own news.

Anticipate that in reality, there will be bumps and potholes in the road ahead. Avoid the ones that you can, but if you end up in one, take it for what it is - a necessary part of the journey of life.

Choose a rational strategy for yourself based on an assessment of what your real needs are, the resources you have and the risks involved. The key word here is "choose." To surrender our power to choose is the beginning of defeat.

It isn't so much what choice we make, so much as it is that we demonstrate to ourselves that we still have the power to make one. Even better is if we follow up our choice with persistence and commitment.

Take charge of your own situation. In a crisis, we all have a natural tendency to look around for someone to solve it for us. Look in a mirror. The person you see looking back is the one who has to solve it. Even if you need the help of other people, you are the one who has to organize your own "rescue."

Watch out for the opportunities hidden in a crisis. There is no reason why a downturn can't be an upturn on an individual basis. But as soon as we convince ourselves a situation is hopeless, we stop trying to change it and thus create a self fulfilling prophecy. Certainly, many factors will be out of our control, but it is rare that there is nothing at all we can do to try to improve our own situation.

Investigate all rumors before acting on them. In the last recession, I was working with a group of people who were being laid off. There were so many rumors floating around that no one knew what to believe. When we made a list of what they knew to be true and threw out the rest, we found that the situation, while not good, was also not hopeless. Investigating rumors enabled them to get refocused on reality and restored a sense of their own power.

Set your own goals and priorities. Even if current conditions prevent you from achieving all you would like to, you at least will have the satisfaction of knowing that it was circumstances that derailed you, not your own lack of direction.

Expand your definition of success to include other things beyond career concerns. If the down economy means you can't achieve in your career right now, what other challenging goal can you work on to remind yourself that you are competent?

Live your life in the present moment. I've lost some close friends and relatives in the past year and it has helped me realize how precious life is and not to take it so much for granted.

Yell for help if you find yourself sinking in quicksand. One of the biggest mistakes we make in a crisis is to try to go it alone. In my studies of the influence of luck on careers, I've found that those who thrive in good times and bad, actively seek out the support of other people. They give help when they can and ask for it when needed.


 ©2001 Richard M. Phillips


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