The economy is in tatters and that has most of us just a little worried about the future, or, more specifically, our own security in the future.
Lots of people saw it coming and planned ahead. They kept their job with the big corporation, the one with the pension plan. And just as it was time to cash out, they were told, “Pension plan?!!?!?! Oh sorry. It seems to have disappeared.” So, no retirement. And they can’t even keep the crap job that they hated for the last twenty years because it’s disappeared as well.
Lots of people saw that coming and got a little more creative with their investments, leaving the door open for the likes of Bernie Madoff to ride in and scoop up their earnings.
You could keep your retirement fund in a your mattress, but with global warming and the threat of wildfires or floods…
Alan and I have lived through a couple of global recessions now as well as some smaller, highly localized (and often self-induced) downturns. And here’s what I’ve learned.
Security? Is an illusion.
Sure, you can take steps, you can make your risks smaller and save a little for a rainy day. But you just can’t prepare for every eventuality. Seriously. Who could foresee some of this stuff?
The flip side of this is that if you succumb to the illusion, if you think you’ve got security, well then, you won’t want to move on to something else, something scarier, but better. Because you’d have to be crazy to give up your security, right? So you hang on to that job that is eating away at your soul, piece by piece, so that you can keep the benefits, the promise of an eventual pension. You don’t take the scary, exciting chances that come your way.
And sure, you may not ever find yourself in the local grocery store at midnight, counting the change in your hand and trying to decide what on your shopping list you absolutely must have and what can wait another week or twelve. Alan and I did that once. We lived.
We’ve also had to sell our house when we both lost our jobs on the same day. It wasn’t fun, but we did it. And once again, we lived.
We’ve taken some great opportunities and passed up others and we’ve lead a really interesting life. Because once you start to see the opportunities, once you let go of your need for the security of a job with benefits or promises that may or may not be kept, then you start to see the opportunities that are all around you, all around everyone, all the time.
And for me, that’s better than the promise of a pension or dental benefits. Knowing that if I open my eyes, I’ll be able to pick up something, find something to make money. Those opportunities come with other benefits, like meeting new people and learning new skills. People who will let you know about other opportunities and skills that you can use over and over again in other situations.
Of course, we all have our comfort levels. And my telling you to get on out there and take a chance in life is just going to be annoying if you’ve got a job you can stand and you like the lifestyle it gives you. But if it suddenly dries up, allow me to encourage you that it will be OK, that you will come out of this better and stronger, with a whole new bunch of skills.
And that security that you loved thinking you had? Was really just a dream.