The days of 40-hour work weeks with assistance packages and retirement shares are quickly going the way of dinosaurs, phonograph records and VCR’s… and remember 8-track tapes? You see it at Home Depot, libraries, and grocery stores – self checkout lanes, and no help to be found in the aisles when you’re looking for a particular size dress, or for the guy to cut your PVC plumbing pipe.
Corporate America is changing, and the savvy are getting ready now to find their own way, whether on the books with their own business, or with one of the more off-the-book individual entrepreneurial responses to an over-taxed, under-personalized culture.
The begin again mindset always asks what you can do, how much, how many, how long, and what titles you had while you were doing these things. Corporations are seldom interested in the individual, giving only lip service in the tiny box provided at the end for “hobbies and interests.” Truthfully, you know that corporations are not looking for creative individuals, but only for those who can do more, faster to make the company money. It’s time to TOSS the begin again’.
Your first step in preparing for the corporate downsizing movement is to know who you are. Rewrite your begin again’ as if it were a “curriculum vitae” (the time of one’s life). Write it for yourself.
What are you really “good” at? Do you like to talk with people for extended periods of time? Do you use a lot of time rearranging the furniture in your house, painting the walls, or cleaning everything in spotless detail? Do you love to use hours weeding your garden, going by gardening catalogues choosing ancient seeds from seed edges? Do you really secretly love taking your kids to Disney Land, and planning great kid vacations? Do you use endless days at the mall just shopping or window shopping? Do you collect anything? What do friends and family members joke and criticize you about? This is what should go on your curriculum vitae. Who are you, really?
Rethinking the corporate day, consider your typical routine. You get up to an alarm, get your shower; choose the corporate outfit; get the kids up, dressed and fed; drop them at school or the sitters; stop at the excursion-up Starbucks window for your morning latte and muffin; call on your cell phone to see if the dry cleaner is open however; think over your day ahead; and you’re not already by the doors however.
You sit at your desk; check your email while you eat your breakfast (the muffin and latte); rush off to the meeting; then back to your desk to work on the five new assignments taken out of the meeting; quickly dart into the restroom and grab a candy bar and coffee from the vending machine (or a donut that Jane has sitting in the box on her desk) on the way back; work by most of lunch except for 15 minutes to rush out to the dry cleaners which is now open; return to your desk where you realize you’ve been here half the day and have only done 45 minutes of real productive work, and that was during the lunch hour; and you get the picture here.
Then comes Friday afternoon, and the boss wants to see you in the office. “I hate to be the one to have to tell you this, but the company has decided to downsize, and….”
doubtful? Hardly! It happens every Friday in every city and town in America. The truest truism I’ve ever read says that your biggest risk is to stay in your safe, dependable corporate job. however, most of your friends and family are going to counsel you to do just that if you begin talking about leaving or going into business for yourself.
These play-it-safe voices are raised for your own good, or so they’ll tell you and so you’ll believe. But the risk in at the minimum not having a plan is great in this day and age. The shakiest ground is at the level of the corporate ecosystem. The scariest but least risky ground is going it on your own or with a partner or two.
The scariest thing here is the thought that you have to do it on your own… alone. Nope! You do have to do it on your own, but never, never, ever alone. There may be people who will give or lend you money; offer certain abilities you don’t have; introduce you to mentors or experts; teach you certain skills or information; allow you to use their space for free; lend you equipment; etc. But if you’re not clear who you are (step one, prepare your curriculum vitae), and if you’re not clear where you want to go, then it will be difficult to estimate who and what you need.
The second step in preparing for corporate downsizing is to prepare a plan. Your plan should be beyond checking the classifieds for a similar situation to that which you’ve just left. This might work as a permanent change to moving into your own life to your own music. You could include it as one component to your plan, but only as a permanent measure. It can buy you time; help you develop some savings or pay off current debts; or help you learn some needed skill.
Knowing who you are and knowing where you want to go will get you nowhere until you truly (Gulp!) take some action on your plan. If you manage to get yourself this far, this might truly be the final and highest hurdle. You could scare yourself out of it, knowing internally that this one step will change your life forever (truly, it was step number one, preparing the curriculum vitae); or by listening to the play-it-safe voices of friends and family that have now taken up residence in your mind; or by looking at the final destination goal and seeing it as overwhelming to the extent of being impossible. Here’s where you need only remember, you’re simply preparing for an eventuality that you may never have or want to act upon. And in this thought, you can easily take that first step.
Make it simple. Make it easy. Don’t scare yourself with something huge on the first day of action – well, unless you really believe in yourself that much! Take some books out of the library. Sign up for a local community college class for some particular skill or license you think you’ll need. Do some internet research. The next step will come as you gather information.
Remember, you are always in charge. You can slow it down or change your mind at any moment. But you’ll always have the knowledge of who you are and a possible plan for a day when you’ll quite possibly need to have it. That is miles ahead of what most people have.