Do not fall into fear and insecurity because we live in such uncertain times...explore instead how to recession-proof your career.
I have a confession to make…over the past few years I have developed a sort of allergy to all superficial career advice that uses large trends as an indication for what an individual should do. Now, don’t get me wrong, it can be helpful to be aware of data gathered across large sectors of professions and demographics. But I don’t think it has as much impact on you as it might seem from the overall narrative.
If you read closely, you can start noticing the often implied message that if a lot of other people are doing something, you should do it too. Articles and talks about the Great Resignation, for example, often came with the attached message that now that everyone is doing it, you too can look for work you love! You should quit now!
Well, I have been working with career changers for years, and I have a different take. I think that one of the most important things you can learn in life is to get to know your own Self, your timing, and your process. Sometimes you will move in the same direction as a lot of other people … and sometimes it will feel like you are the only person crazy enough to take the leap (or to stay put). Your happiness in life is not related to how many people do what you do: your peace and your happiness come from inside of you. If you learn to recognize when you are coming from a deep place of connection and presence vs. fear, attachment, and people-pleasing, you will be able to chart your own path during good and bad times. That's how you recession-proof your career.
Then, from that deep place of knowing, learning about wider trends can be very helpful in strategically charting your course. But only when you are in touch with your Wisdom.
So today I want to talk about what I have learned over the years while working with career changers, job seekers, and entrepreneurs about creating a career that can withstand the ups and downs of life.
Here are 12 ways to recession-proof your career, in no particular order.
1. Always be learning
I love this conversation between Andrew Bird and Johnathan Richman. At around the 20 min mark the conversation gets into classical music and reading music. Jonathan Richman shares how he has been learning how to read music because he likes Debussy’s music so much he wants to know what exactly he composed and cannot just figure it out by ear. Why is this so cool? Jonathan Richman has been making music since the late 60’s. He was already in his mid 50s when he started to learn how to read music. And when you hear him share his excitement at discovering new music, it is so cool to see someone who even after decades still has this level of passion for what he does.
When you do work you love - whether you stay in the same career for decades, or pursue multiple careers - learning something new is a pleasure. This is a mindset, not a chore.
But learning doesn’t have to be limited to your profession: cultivating curiosity in any field can inspire you to think outside the box, keep you refreshed and engaged outside of work, and even help you find a new career if you ever feel it’s time to pivot.
2. Nurture positive relationships
Too often we underestimate the importance of true, authentic, positive relationships at work. Most career advice focuses on 3 things: money, personal branding, and networking. I believe that nothing beats cultivating genuine relationships, they are the most powerful way to recession-proof your career.
What are these relationships like?
- They are based on relating to each other regardless of whether you can gain something
- They have a foundation of honesty, attunement, integrity, and mutual respect
- There is plenty of goodwill and compassion.
Too often we are encouraged to imagine people do something to us, say the wrong thing on purpose or because there is something wrong with them, etc. Instead we can cultivate an outlook that is graceful, that considers that we all make mistakes, we each have different ways of seeing the world, that most people want to do good and feel good, that we all sometimes mess up, etc.
When you develop positive relationships in this way over several years, your life is richer, you can count on people who know your character and can remind you of the best in you. Relationships based on kindness, forgiveness, openness, patience…these are what life is all about.
And this extends to communities too. You can get involved, participate in, or start a group that is based on relating authentically to each other. Whether in person or online, local or remote, communities can be amazing vehicles for personal and professional growth and where we can meet some of our best friends in life.
3. Have a mindset of service and contribution
While there undoubtedly are businesses and managers who have no regard for employees, a whole lot of people are simply trying to do the best they can. If you focus on making a difference, doing a good job, and contributing to the overall team and business goals, you will always find someone ready to hire you. Over time, even if you change careers, you will develop a reputation as someone who is a team player, professional, reliable, and pleasant to work with.
Even if you end up in a job or company you don’t like, if you can keep a mindset of service and contribution while looking for a new position, you will be able to leave in a better mood and with at least some connections you can count on for referrals in the future.
While it is undoubtedly true that it’s best to do work you love, sometimes the opposite is also true: we can bring our love and enthusiasm to anything we do. This is an excellent way to weather bumps in the road and to move on fast. The mistake most people make when they find themselves in a job or profession they do not like is to stay for too long. Their mood suffers which influences their productivity and relationships. This then leads to decreased self esteem, increased reactivity, and an inability to see possibilities and opportunities to move on.
It doesn’t have to be that way. If you stay focused on contributing, generate your love for what you do from the inside out, and look for your next opportunity, things will flow much faster.
4. Understand the bigger picture
Before I ran my first business many years ago, I overestimated how much my employers had it together and knew what to do. I was also much more focused on what was in it for me and did not think as much about my impact on the overall success of the company.
Once I started my business, my perspective completely changed: when I worked with someone, I noticed how rare it was to actually meet someone who cared and understood my business. And when I found someone who did and had a mindset of service and contribution, I wanted to hold on to them!
If you understand the overall picture and see how your work contributes to it, your boss will appreciate you a lot more. You will also be better able to pitch ideas, discover new opportunities, and move up the ranks.
Being awesome at what you do is a great way to recession-proof your career.
5. Gratitude is a healing balm
Sooner or later we are all faced with a downturn, sometimes even a tragedy. We might lose a job, have to pivot to a new career for reasons beyond our control, etc.
If you cultivate a feeling of gratitude throughout your life, it will be easier to remember you are not doomed when things are tough. You can grieve, feel down, doubt your abilities, and still remember that this too shall pass. By keeping things in perspective and appreciating what you still have, you will be better able to keep your wits about you and engage with what is in front of you without giving in to discouragement and despair.
Do not wait for things to become tough in order to practice gratitude: start today and make it a daily habit. It’s one of the best investments you can make in your own wellbeing.
6. Hope is a super power
Hope is not the same as denial or wishful thinking: it is an orientation towards what is possible. Have you ever met someone who is clearly stuck because they think being happy, having a good career, or making money doing what they love is impossible? Without hope they will never get unstuck.
On the other hand, if you are hopeful that you will pull through, that there is something for you, that a solution can be found, etc. you will have a much bigger chance of recognizing an opportunity when it comes your way and of doing the work to make it happen.
Why is hope necessary to recession-proof your career? It keeps you in a good mood and it invites you to stay open to new opportunities and people. And that's how you create the life and work you want. With hope, you can always dance with life, even if a recession hits your career.
7. Know who you truly are
If you identify with the job you have, your possessions, the money you make, or societal expectations of what you should have achieved by a certain age, you will always be at the mercy of circumstances and other people’s actions. When you know your deepest Self is beyond all that, when you have a true understanding of your deepest nature, when you recognize that at your core there is a Source of wellbeing that never ends, you can always find your grounding. This is the most important thing to know about yourself, not just theoretically or intellectually, but as a reality, and why my work centers on this understanding.
8. Be Here Now
Even during the worst of times some people and businesses do well: the more you understand your clients, company, colleagues, field, and profession, the more you can make choices based on what works and recession-proof your career. Trust your own ability to understand your situation and use your common sense. It is this trust in your own ability to chart your course that gives you a deep sense of security during uncertain times.
9. Practice joyful non attachment
No matter how much you plan, life has its own flow: if you don’t get attached to things working out the way you want, but open yourself up to what is possible, you can discover new ways of being and unexpected opportunities, and you can best let go and grieve for what is not to be.
Non-attachment opens you up to life, gifts you lightness and joy, and increases your creativity. If you let go of controlling your life, you can have fun pursuing anything you want. Give it a try.
10. Treat your career as your business
If you work for yourself, you know you have to constantly go with the flow: a business that refuses to grow and learn with the times will sooner or later become irrelevant. On the other hand, business owners who engage with the world, are curious, and never stop trying something new, can often build lasting businesses.
The same is true for your career: if you are an employee, you can treat your employer as a client. This means you are always on top of your game, nurture the connection, and are not afraid to come up with new solutions.
Sometimes you can see this at play when someone who used to be self-employed gets a full time job. She often takes on a level of responsibility and is able to become a leader faster than colleagues who never worked for themselves. This is because one of the most important attributes in a leader is their sense of agency and reliability. Do not wait for permission: cultivate these attributes in yourself now.
Being flexible and able to pivot with the times is an excellent way to recession-proof your career.
It never hurts to have money in the bank. When times are uncertain or if you suddenly lose your job or a few clients, savings can help you take your time figuring out your next move, up leveling your skills, taking time off to regroup, etc.
Start building an emergency fund now. The rule of thumb for self-employed people is to have at least 6-18 months of income saved up, but even a lot less is better than nothing. So don’t wait to start a little fund to help you with unexpected changes.
12. Get a coach
Last but not least, I am a huge fan of coaching. And not just because it’s what I do. I have 2 coaches and I also sometimes participate in coaching groups. Coaching has made more of a difference in my life than school, therapy, and most anything else.
A great coach will help you break through old and ineffective patterns, expand your ways of being, achieve your goals, and even change your entire life. I have been working with one of my coaches for over 5 years and I have no intention to stop. If you want to live life at your full potential, nothing beats having a coach.
You have a choice: you can live in fear and frustration because we live in such uncertain times, or you can actively step into your power to recession-proof your career. What will you do?