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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Planning can ease worst-case scenarios

By Vicky Smith
SUN Media

Uncertainty and anxiety about the future of our jobs is something we've all felt.

Our economic world has been drastically shaken. We are starting to experience the fallout, but businesses are in for more tough times.

Preparing for the worst-case scenario while we are still working is one of the best ways to manage the possibility of job loss.

Contingency plans for every aspect of your life including finances, family and finding another job should all be worked out now to ease the stress of anxiety about them and to minimize the impact of job loss if it should happen.

Stress occurs when we face uncertainty and demands on us we can't control. But what we can control is our response to a stressful situation. We can make choices now about preparing the responses we will make to future difficulties. Following are some ideas from Lois Raats in her article Triumph During Transition.

  • Recognize the state you are in.

    This is particularly important for people who have been with the same company for many years and think there will be severances if they lose their jobs. What if the economic situation became so dire for companies that there would be no money for severances? Better to put steps in place now to deal with this worst-case scenario. If it doesn't happen, your financial position will be even better.

  • Take care of the obvious.

    One of the most important things to take care is our health and living a healthy life style. Creating a budget would be a concrete written plan to deal with immediate financial issues.

  • Lowering expectations.

    All the things we wanted to do before 9/11 may not be wise to do now. That's OK because life is ebb and flow and there will be other times.

  • Open your eyes, take in the view.

    Become aware of what is happening in the job market. Two good books from which to learn job-hunting techniques are Job Shift by William Bridges and What Color Is My Parachute by Richard Bolles. A few of the key basics to start working on are:

    -- Take the time to identify your key skills, personality strength and accomplishments.

    -- Update your resume.

    -- Nurture your network, have lunch with someone you know professionally at least once a month.

    -- Utilize a variety of sources to research what's happening in the job market -- e.g., newspapers, Internet, agencies, networking etc. Take courses to update your skills.

  • Get a support network.

    Seek out people through family connections, networking groups, religious affiliations, etc., because some of the best ideas come from talking with others.

  • Lighten up.

    Laughter strengthens the body's ability to fight disease. It increases the body's ability to produce and release a bacteria and virus fighter. Laughter can lower blood pressure and fight stress by lowering the level of the hormone cortical, which is produced during stress.

  • Take one day at a time.

    The only time we truly have control over is today. Using today wisely and putting together enough well spent days will positively shape the future. Setting aside time each day until a course of action is planned should become our primary goal.

  • Write things down.

    There are a couple of great books on the benefits of writing goals down: The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser.

    Klauser says: "Writing down your dreams and aspirations is like hanging up a sign that says, 'Open for Business'."

    Activity in one area of your life generates movement in other areas.

    Being responsible for our future takes persistence and discipline in taking the time to create an action plan. We would much rather spend time worrying or talking about the last rumour we heard about the company downsizing.

    Earl Nightingale said, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; there is nothing more commonplace than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

    Vicky Smith is owner of Contact Human Resource Group.

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