Have you ever been fired? I have. The last time, I was told that my services were no longer needed because the company was taking a “different direction.” The reality, I still believe, was that they didn’t like the size of my salary, and my refusal to drive three hours in a blizzard was the reason they were looking for.
Fortunately, I always have a few other things “going on the side” and so I managed to avoid living in my car. More importantly, though, I’ve never gone back to “traditional” employment, where at the whim of someone having a bad day, my bank account could be turned upside down.
That life’s not for me. Let me tell you why.
1. They outsourced that team
I recently went to visit a friend and we talked about the numbers of people having difficulty finding work for more than a few years in one place. There is a constant stream of stories about people who get hired, then fired or laid off. Sure, there are lots of openings in retail and restaurants, but those fail to pay a living wage for most people, and instead the job hunters are often competing to keep their job in the face of overwhelming technology use, or trying to position things so their job doesn’t get outsourced.
Those “middle” jobs where young people took the next step or two in their careers are all but gone or dying out. The “middle” class as we know it (and The American Dream for my neighbours to the South) was just a marketing ploy to make you work your entire for career for someone else so that they could retire super rich and you could live on a dwindling pension and old age security. Nice.
2. The boss doesn’t like you
We keep working on emotional intelligence and trust and lots of people get it, but chances are the managers and directors and above couldn’t care less about you. Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true. You’re entirely expendable and if they can’t replace you, they’ll figure out a way to outsource you for far less than your salary and severance package. You’re window dressing; a mere homage to old style business that meant we needed to hire one MBA grad to every five technical diploma or certificate level grads. Plus you probably want benefits, and holidays, and your weekends off to spend with the designer dog you just paid a grand for, and that makes you a big liability.
The bosses job (seriously, I have been a boss and saw people do this) is to give you just enough line to hang yourself, then they’ll reel you back in and make you feel grateful to have a job, and then they’ll scare you a little before saying they’re going to trust you just one more time before letting your line out again. Sure, they’ll throw you a bone from time to time but their overall objective is to get you to work as hard as you can for as little reward as possible. Think about this next time your boss praises you.
3. Money won’t make you happy
Oh I know, money helps you to buy the things that make you happy. However, it really doesn’t make you happy. Think about that last raise you fought for, and what you actually did with it. For every $3, 000 increase you get at work, you kit out your car a little nicer, or you spend 10 days in Mexico instead of seven, or you buy a 63 inch TV for your 800 square foot loft condo. Oh, and you bought an expensive condo within walking distance to work.
I hate to break it to you, but unless you have a plan for that money (meaning you actually sat with a real financial planner and worked it out and you are putting it in the right places), you won’t reap much satisfaction from that raise that gets diverted to a car payment, a big credit card bill, or outstanding student loans, or whatever debt you are carrying. The average citizen carries a huge amount of debt and although not all debt is created equal (mortgage debt is more palatable than credit card debt, for example), if you’re “average” you are carrying a lot.
4. You have no idea how many people have their finger on your jugular
There was the business owner who said, “Me, I ‘m getting divorced and moving to a Caribbean island. Here’s your last cheque.” And there I was between jobs for 90 days and the bank couldn’t offer me a grace period because I was technically “self-employed” before being made obsolete. Fast forward and there I was on a stormy, snowy morning and I made a decision not to drive 350 kms in it before I got fired.
I said I’d never let it happen again, and that I would position things so that my success could never be held at the whim of someone else.
Here’s an assignment for you. Write a quick list of the people who can forge ahead with a new decision and throw a big ol’ wrench in your career or you bank balance. Stick with the writing exercise for at least 20 minutes, and there’s a good chance you’ll have between 15 and 30 people on that list.
5.Is your job leading you to contentment?
I’m not saying you have to be insanely happy at work. If everyone was that happy all the time, it’s quite possible no one would get anything done. But if your job meets your financial, physical, spiritual, and emotional needs you’re probably better off than a lot of people.
Now, you critics will be thinking that no job can meet every need. And you might be right. But what I find more perplexing are the number of people who only get one, okay maybe two, of those needs met, and they stay. Forever. They wait out the lay offs, or the reassignments, or the bad boss. They accept the cutbacks, the lower than cost of living raises, the cancelled family gatherings because they have to work overtime. They go home with zero energy for anything because their job has sucked the life out of them, and yet they go back day after day after month after month.
If you stay, you’ve settled to spend most of your waking hours with a company, or people, or a mission that sucks the life out of you.
6. Your contingency planning sucks
So you think that putting 10% of your salary into your retirement account is going to do it? It will save you from the collapse of your pension, the federal pension plan, or the deterioration of your health? I know that people think that health care in Canada is free, but you and I know the truth. We know the nasty little secret. Sure, you can see a doctor and not pay out of pocket. You can even be in the hospital and not pay directly for your medical care. But just try having a minor surgery that requires some physical therapy afterward, or some kind of drug…or you have to visit the hospital three times a week for cancer treatment or kidney dialysis. Then check your bank account and see how free all of that is.
7. How many excuses?
“I’m too old to start something new.” “I’m not creative like you are.” “I need the benefits/insurance/leave plan.” “My kids are too young.”
I met a 60-something woman a few years ago. She told me about what she called her “accidental retirement” when she lost a 7-figure business to an unscrupulous individual that she was romantically connected too. She could have retired really, because she was of a certain age. She could have capitulated and gone and hid in a cabin at the lake. But did she? No. She went into startup mode and created a national presence that made her original company look like a dalliance.
There are no good excuses for you not getting what you want. There are just excuses. You might say to me, “That’s easy for you to say, Pam. You don’t know what else I have going on.” Or you might say, “I can’t sell myself. I could never sell myself (or my product or service).”
My reply would be that I agree with you. I’m not going to argue with you. If you don’t think you can get out there and do something different so that your life is different, then I certainly don’t have the power to change your mind.
8. Everyone has to start from where they are
The expression (and I still can’t figure out who said it first) is “Stop comparing your beginning with someone else’s middle.” I hear people who frequently start chasing their dream and get off track because they see someone else who has been there and done it already. They forget that the admired individual also started somewhere, and it was most likely at a beginning.
“I’m afraid,” is a perfectly reasonable answer to delay starting what you want. “I have bills to pay. I have a mortgage.” That’s fine, but when you do decide to step into those dreams and get what you want, you’re going to have to do something differently to get there. If you don’t so things differently, you can’t get somewhere else than where you are heading right now.
9. Take a minute, and have a conversation.
Do you remember being 17? Let’s say that 17 year old version of you is talking to the present day version of you. Would the 17 year old you be content with where you are? Is the 17 year old celebrating what you have created?
Next, arrange a meeting with 90 year old you. What would your 90 year old self say to your current self? Are you celebrating or commiserating?
10. It’s an inside job
Look, no matter what you think, and you may not be able to see it now but you probably will after this sentence sinks in: you will never find abundance in your job - either the emotional or financial kind. Abundance is an inside thing. It's about how you approach life, and what you take out of it. It doesn't come from your job. The very nature of the labour market means that you wake up every work day preparing for your employer: you go to work on their schedule, wearing clothes they tolerate, maintaining an attitude they put up with, in exchange for a reward that keeps you able to sustain your current lifestyle, but never ever likely to enjoy the abundance you desire. Life doesn’t work that way. For some of you that’s okay, and I get that. But for the others, especially if you’ve read this far, you’re figuring out that if you want abundance, you’ve got to create it. If that sounds flaky, you aren’t ready. If it sounds a bit scary, you might be.
You can do it. I have faith in you, and I mean it.
Pam Robertson, Ph.D. has worked with people from all walks of life in her work as a career counsellor and coach. She’s bound and determined to help people get what they want out of life and has recently partnered with Rodan + Fields, the creators of Proactiv, to help men and women the world over get the skin - and results - they want. She knows that people who look after themselves get more opportunities and make a better living than those who don’t.
If you’d like to work with Pam and you are in Canada or the USA, contact her now to get started. This opportunity isn’t for everyone, but it’s for you if you are motivated, coachable, and ready to launch.
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