Glimmers of Hope

Well,… things are not better, but there are glimmers of hope.

The the AP reported today [Article Here] that economic data from the Labor Department contained some promising signs:

“In a sharp improvement, the largest U.S. metropolitan areas were evenly split in July between those where unemployment rates rose from June and those where rates fell.

In June, by contrast, 90 percent of the 380 metro areas had seen their jobless rates rise from the previous month.”

What is happening: the rate of unemployment growth is slowing in many areas.

What is NOT happening: but for seasonal jobs in agriculture and other niche segments, the number of new jobs is not growing fast enough to counter-act job losses.

What is means:  The US economy continues to cling to a very flat growth curve.  In previous decades, even those experiencing recessions, new and revitalized sectors drove job growth.  For example, in the late 1980’s technology drove growth; the dot-com / telecom boom and bust drove the 1990’s and financial services drove the first 5 years of the new millennium.  Uh,.. maybe forget about that last one.

The point is history proves that without a job growth machine fueled by an emerging or jump-started sector, unemployed workers are left to make their own luck.

Are you ready or just waiting?  Do you have a plan?  If not, you need to follow the 1st rule of white-water rafting: When you fall out of the boat, YOU are the most important member of your rescue team.

Get it?

This Too Will Pass

I would rather live today than at any other time in history.  This feeling is and has been consistent on good days or bad days and in good times or difficult times.

Why?

First,  the world keeps turning and standing still accomplishes nothing.  Second, everyday is an opportunity to learn, help, share, reflect or heal.  A few of my experiences:

The day of my Dad’s funeral I learned just how much he helped other people and it challenged me  to do even more than I was currently doing.   A minister shared that Dad privately bought plane tickets so the minister could fly to his family own father’s funeral.  We didn’t have a lot but apparently Dad found a way to buy the tickets.  In the midst of my grief over death, there appeared motivation for life.

Some time ago I was married for a couple years while completing grad school.  We got divorced and I was deeply troubled by how the whole thing unfolded.  During the healing process I felt convicted not to become bitter but become better (see also this post).  10 years later a dear friend experienced a nearly identical situation.  I shadowed him and provided encouragement as the cycle unfolded.  It was a blessing to use my previous pain to encourage his healing process.

Early in my career I was passed over for a job promotion that I felt was earned and deserved.  The hiring VP thought differently.  Instead of impulsively quitting that company in disgust, I put my head down and elevated my performance.  That same VP became one of my cheerleaders as my career progressed and he got me an even bigger promotion 18 months later.

In all cases, my first reactions were human and typical; hurt, angry, bitter, resentful, frustrated, cheated, deprived, shunned, abused, etc.  Beyond the normal initial reaction came a wave of self discipline and determination to learn from the mistakes (my own fault) or life experiences (not my fault).  This is not easy.  You must move forward and utilize mentors, books and solitude during the process.

Today’s economy is driving people to the point of despair and into bankruptcy.  Even in the most troubled situations, I can see a vision of a better future.  If this is bottom, then every day forward will be a little better until a more stable plateau is attained.

Even in the face of these headwinds, I would rather live today and look to tomorrow than at any other time in history.  Today’s challenges and pain are what make us appreciate a better tomorrow.

This too will pass.  The question is: how will you use the experience in the future?

Right here, right now, there is no other place I wanna be.
Right here, right now, watching the world wake up from history.
Right Here, Right Now –
Jesus Jones

To help those facing career decisions or challenges I am giving away 100 free copies of my book, The Rat, The Race and The Cage to anyone who WANTS one.  (See This Post)

So,… Who’s Right?

Today I read that jobless claims were up, no down, no up.

Huh?

It would be silly if it wasn’t so pathetic. The popular media (a description given to journalists and their publications who tend to be unpopular) seem to think that the crafting an isolated statistic into a juicy headline will case us to feel better. And, lest we forget, a subtle tick-up in the stock market on any given day is cause for celebration and declaration that “the worst is over.

The moral: do not be deceived by headlines. We are in for a long haul.

That same attitude that should be taken when it comes to a job search. The long haul is not meant to be a discouraging description of the search for your next position, it’s about taking a long view of your career.

The current economic malaise / disaster / recession (pick one) will teach the wise one thing: from this day forward we can and must take a different attitude about our career. Today’s job, be it 5 months of happiness or 5 years of drudgery, is one part of a much larger career portrait that will be painted over time.

Today is but one day. Whether you are searching for a job, happy in a position or dying to get out of the 4th ring of Dante’s Inferno, make the most of today. Take time to reflect on what will be the longer story. While it’s composed a day at a time, you will find that all-too-quickly days become weeks and weeks become years…

If life was just a spontaneous daily headline, we’d all have the same one:

“Fine, and you?”

“Even when your hope is gone,
Move along, move along just to make it through”
Move Along – All American Rejects

Job Search or Career Recalibration Opportunity?

California just confirmed 12% of its residents are officially out of work. Highest in the nation.

Troubling.

It’s worse than that if you include people who are not collecting unemployment or registering in such a way that the state’s spreadsheet can count them,… “you know it, I know it and the American people know it.”

That’s Even More Troubling.

For those affected, this can be treated as an opportunity to make the career change that they have desired but couldn’t or wouldn’t. In more abundant times, if you quit your job to embark on a new direction, friends and family would milk-spit in shock and chastise you for taking an unreasonable risk.

The status quo can be soooooo comforting.

Today, however, if you make the same proclamation, friends and family offer encouragement and support. That level of community and encouragement is vital. Although, part of that may be to get some of you off the couch in their family room. You know who you are.

So what is the desire of your heart? What career change have you secretly, or not-so-secretly wanted to make? Ahem, leave “helping people” or “saving the dolphins” to super models or over-medicated actresses. Excuse the absurdity of that last comment – you get the point.

Where is your heart? Do you have a plan sitting in a drawer? A book, or a folder full of yellowed newspaper clippings and articles torn from magazines? Whatever it is, get it out, spread it out and check it out. Those are the raw materials from which you need to architect a plan.

Start with your current job and think about everything. What do you like or dislike about your function? What about the industry? Boring, exciting or going bankrupt and you are forced to find a new pasture? How about the company itself? Mom-n-pop, start-up, medium size or corporate goliath? Which of the above do you find satisfying – or even just comfortable?

In The Rat, The Race and the Cage, I help you with part of this. Give it a read and add it to what should be a backpack full of supplies for the journey.

Maybe things are not so troubling after all.

“And the men who hold high places, must be the ones who start.
To mold a new reality, closer to the heart.”
Closer to The Heart
– RUSH