Economic downturns makes career planning even more important

Career Opportunities podcast logoEconomic downturns makes career planning even more important
By Douglas E. Welch

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To put it mildly, the economic news here in the US has not been very good lately. Business failures, the mortgage crisis and more are driving the economy lower and slower. This is sure to take its toll on business and the employees of these businesses — including you. That said, I hope that all of you have put your finances in order over the last several years as I have written here in Career Opportunities. Good preparation is always the best defense whenever tough times hit.

Too often, workers suspend whatever career goals they have during tough times. Those who have a job feel grateful to be employed and those without a job will take nearly anything that comes along. I would caution you against such austere thinking. Career goals are just that, goals. We should continue to strive for our goals even when the economy is slow. I would say that this is the most important time to focus on our goals. This prevents us from making unwise decisions out of a sense of fear or even panic. Decisions made in the fog of panic can be the most damaging of our lives. Don’t allow fear to deter you from your most important goals .

Another danger zone is making decisions with money being the only criteria. I am fond of saying that money should never be the sole reason for doing (or not doing) anything. Money must be weighed with all other criteria. In one extreme example, it should be obvious that committing a crime in order to make money would be a bad decision. Derailing your career to make money is almost as foolish. Rarely do your career goals change just because the economy has changed. You still want some very basic elements in your career. Yes, it might be more difficult to attain these goals, but they don’t simply disappear. Don’t abandon all that, simply to make money today, or you may find your future success to be limited by that decision.

So, what can you do to insure that your career stays on-track, even when the world is a bit unstable? It all comes down to you. First, re-visit your career goals. Have external forces deeply effected your goals or the chances of obtaining them? For example, if you were working to become powerful and rich in the mortgage industry, you will have to take a hard look at that goal Even then you might see opportunities in this area after the current crisis shakes out. The important part is to calmly and clearly review your goals and make decisions based on thought and consideration, not panic.

Next, look at your current work environment. Does this current crisis give you an opportunity to shine in some way? Can you save your company money? Can you bring in more business? Can you expand the company into new markets? Shakeups aren’t just doom and gloom. They can sometimes provide new opportunities, too. While you certainly don’t want to take any pleasure in the misfortune of others, layoffs, buyouts and early retirements could offer you opportunities for advancement that might have been missing before.

I can’t say this often enough, don’t panic.

Finally, and I can’t say this often enough, don’t panic. Today as I watch the news, I see people panicking everywhere. They are predicting worst case scenarios and telling people to act today, based on their predictions. Wise people react according to what is happening now, not what might happen in the future. There are any number of things that might happen. While you can plan and prepare based on various scenarios, it is important to only act on cold, hard facts. Otherwise, it is very likely you will “leap from the frying pan into the fire” making your life and career more difficult. Good news is rarely as good as we might hope and bad news is rarely as bad as we might fear. Keep in mind the reality always lies somewhere in the middle.

No matter what happens, remember that you are in charge of your own life and your own career. Make the best decisions possible for yourself and your family. Don’t feel that you need to quash your own career goals because the economy is slowing. Your goals may change and adjust, but you can still continue to strive for them every day.

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