Very often, people ask me how I’ve been able to do it. Lately, they’ve asked how I was able to start my business – and stay in business. Before that, I was asked how I was able to be successful in my own career – or go to a faraway college and graduate school.
Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” I really like this quote. It reminds me a lot of my own journey. Those who know me well know that throughout my life, I have rarely encountered things that came easy.
School, for example, was never an easy task. Because I knew this, I always planned accordingly. I studied more than those around me. I worked hard. And, often, I prepared for the unknown. In the off chance that something went wrong along the way, I was prepared to handle it. I had a backup plan. Sometimes, I even had a backup, backup plan.
Succeeding at work is very much the same. Even though you love your job, and may want to retire there, unforeseen things could happen. The company could go out of business, your boss could be replaced, or something else. If the worst were to happen to you, what would you do?
First and foremost, set aside an emergency fund, and start investing in your retirement early. When you have an emergency fund, you have options. You have a safety net. An emergency fund can allow you to get over a bump in the road without a major impact to your everyday life. It ensures you can pay your rent and put food on the table.
But, beyond the financial piece, there’s something equally important. When you surround yourself with only those from your current job, what happens if your workplace goes out of business? Who will you reach out to? Networking with people at different companies and in different industries helps to diversify your risk. It’s a bit like diversifying your financial investments. If one industry goes under, another may grow. In the same way that having money gives you choices, so does having an extended network.
And, when you are out there searching for a job – don’t fall into the trap of only interviewing with one company. Very often, we are so interested in one particular job that we can’t be bothered to apply anywhere else. We’re certain this is the job we want and we’re going to spend every spare moment trying to turn this job into a reality. But, what happens when the job is put on hold? Or what happens when someone else is hired? Or even worse – what happens when they give you a lowball offer? If you are unhappy with your current job, these scenarios can take away all your power. They may put you in a situation to take a job you don’t really want, for less money than you’re worth.
I hate to be too negative, but I often think about the question, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Then, I plan for what I’d do in the worst case scenario. Rarely does it get that bad, but because I’ve already planned for it, things turn out much better than they would have otherwise.
As the title of my newsletter this week says, plan for the worst, but work toward the best!