Sunday, December 7

Job Loss And Broken Dreams

Boulevard of Broken DreamsI see a lot more people arriving at my blog because they are searching for things such as extreme frugality. Having gone through an extended period of underemployment it breaks my heart.

Wait, don't worry, this isn't a pity party!

What I do feel is important is getting through to people that look down on those that suffer through employment and economic issues. You see, when you get a taste of success in life, without any downturns to clue you in to your own vulnerability, you start to think you are good.

People working at fast food chains? They must have made bad decisions while in high school, preferring to have fun instead of focusing on studies. People losing their jobs must have made bad career decisions because they weren't very adept at figuring out how to develop skills that are in demand. Yes, the unwashed masses have exactly what they deserve because of their own lack of work and planning.

There was a time in my life that I started to think I was good. I was more productive than my peers. I had a better job than the others that I went to school with. I worked harder at learning new skills than most. I had worked my way from nothing to my own success and obviously I was completely in control on my destiny. Somehow, this seemed to imply that everyone was in control of their destiny and got what they deserved.

Maybe this is a way that the mind justifies the obvious differences in society. It pushes the blame to those that don't succeed so that we can feel good about ourselves instead of lamenting the state of society as a whole.

Once again I am lucky to find myself back on top of the food chain. I have an important career job and make significant decisions, influencing the company that employs me in meaningful ways. However, this time I have a little more wisdom than I did as a younger man. Even if we weren't in tough financial times it still isn't right to blindly blame everyone for their state in life.

If you live in a community that has a large employer, for example, then it can be incredibly hard to find work if that company lays everyone off. This has nothing to do with the skills of those employees -- simply that there is a glut on the local market. Some families will have the resources, or contacts, that will let them pick up and relocate, but others won't. Hard working good people do not deserve their destitution, ever.

Losing a job leads down an inevitable path. If you have higher education in a downturn you are simply over qualified for most positions. This is a severe problem as nobody will hire you because they assume you will leave as soon as a career position opens up. You then are left with low end service positions that will not begin to pay enough to maintain a professional lifestyle.

If the downturn is extended you can say goodbye to servicing your debt. You can say goodbye to your car. You can say goodbye to owning your home. You can say goodbye to buying the latest toys and gadgets for your children. You may have to say goodbye to putting away for college costs. You can even say goodbye to having enough money to travel to apply for job opportunities outside of your community.

As you go through these things, the loss of things you worked so hard to gain, the lack of value of your hard won education and skills, the lack of having any potential employers contact you for an interview, you will find out how vulnerable you are to the whims of market conditions. This is when you start to search on the Internet for things like extreme frugality.

I've walked in your shoes.

I know you are still a very skilled and valuable contributor in whatever job position you are given. I know you worked hard, made good decisions, and deserve much better than you currently have. I know you may be making very difficult choices concerning which bills must be paid while others must be left to wreak havoc on your credit rating.

These things are all reversible. You, your character, your ability to work hard and make good decisions, these things remain. Don't lose heart. You are most certainly not alone.

It may be a bitter pill, but once you make it through this, and you will, it will have made you stronger and wiser.

Among many other changes, you will look at successful people, see them making terrible mistakes, and have a better understanding of how and why it happens. The fact that some that are well off look down on others, who aren't as successful as they, will have become blindingly obvious. Society and politics will be a little easier to interpret than before.