Helping Your Life Work
January 1, 2009
Volume 5, Issue 1

The New World of Work

The subject of work is a hot topic at parties these days. Over the past month, I have met several people who, uninvited, have confessed their concerns about their current occupational status. Most of these people did not know that I was a career and personal counsellor. They just assumed that they would find a sympathetic ear in most people these days, given the likelihood of shared fears and concerns.

The first told me that he had no sooner purchased a newer and bigger home than he was laid off from the company where he had been employed for the past 18 years. Desperate to replace his lost income, he scrambled to find something else to do. Unable to match his previous salary, he finally settled for a job with a reduced income. To his surprise, he found himself loving the new job, because it catered to many of his needs and had the potential for growth and advancement. His need for income was replaced by his need for job satisfaction and the possibility of advancement.

The second recounted how unhappy he was with his job, but given the current climate, felt quite fearful of moving on. Better hold on to what you have, rather than risk losing everything, he told himself. To him, job security held greater significance than job satisfaction.

The third, a businesswoman who had recently lost her previously successful business due to the economic downturn, now found herself in the humiliating and frustrating position of having to kowtow to a micromanaging, critical boss who bought her business. In her 60’s, she had decided to settle. She was too tired to start another enterprise and too worried that no one else would hire her at this stage of her life. Earning an income was of paramount importance.

The fourth worked for a company where 850 people had been laid off, amongst them, six of her department coworkers. The last one standing, she wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. She was glad to still have a job, but feared her termination day would come, and in the interim, worried how she would manage to do the job of seven people. She decided to wait and see how things would progress, but resolved that she would quit if the work became too stressful. She felt confident that she could find another job because of her youth, her hard work ethic and her determination. And her personal health was more important than maintaining an overly demanding job.

How do we respond to the current economy? Do we hold our tongues and take whatever we can get? Do we assert ourselves when we feel we are being exploited? Do we step out of our comfort zone to adapt to the changes happening around us? Or do we bide our time, waiting for things to settle?

There are no simple and easy answers. We each have different levels of risk that we are willing to take. Depending on our age and stage in life, our needs will be different. For those of us who find ourselves out of work, we might revisit our past choices, consider our current values and make new plans for the future. Undertaking a comprehensive career assessment can answer many of our questions. If we are out of work and have some savings, we might opt to capitalize on our newfound freedom by returning to school for retraining and upgrading.

For those of us nearing the end of our careers, we might advance retirement plans, put them on hold or explore volunteer opportunities. If we are self-employed, we might become more creative about how to serve our customers and market our businesses in a recessive economy.

If we are unhappy in our jobs, but fearful about moving on, we might best spend our time by updating resumes, researching other jobs, and planting seeds by networking. There are numerous networking organizations that we could join or we might find support and comfort and job leads from starting our own networking groups. This time of uncertainty will pass eventually and then we will be ready to make our next moves. Finding the opportunity in the crisis will help us survive it.

If you need help with your plan, please give me a call.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and hopeful New Year.

Barbara Fish, M.Ed.
Personal and Career Counsellor
416 498-1352
“Helping Your Life Work”

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