Job or no Job: The Certainty of Uncertainty


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Headline from AP via Yahoo News! January 11, 2005: “Chrysler Expects No Job Cuts in 2005, 2006. "

Headline from Detroit Free Press, January 12, 2005: “Chrysler Cuts 200 Hourly Workers. "

Job uncertainty has become part of the employment landscape in America.

Just three weeks before the holidays, with no warning or explanation beyond “financial reasons, ” I was handed my walking papers. Laid off. The company just couldn’t afford me (or numerous others) anymore.

It’s a very strange feeling to have one’s disposable income evaporate and watch one’s savings account trickle away. Even stranger, the realization the event is not what ultimately gets you – rather it’s the inability to deal with the steady stream of unknowns ahead.

Human beings are security junkies. According to Abraham Maslow's theory of personality (Motivation and Personality, 1954) humans have five fundamental needs: physical health, security, self-esteem, love—belongingness, and self-actualization. One of those needs, security, demands a sense of order and predictability within one’s life.

In a tumultuous business environment, how does that work? How does one manage the human need for security – and the fear of losing everything?

It’s not easy. But there are a few things you can do.

Don’t go it alone. Call in your favors. Use your support system, and if it’s not enough, consider engaging a well-regarded and thoughtful therapist. No money for therapy? Sell off baubles accumulated when money was good on Craigslist or eBay.

Consider meditation. Meditation is a powerful way to clear and calm the mind. Meditation is simple. The very intention of quieting the mind is beneficial. Many people use guided meditations to assist them. Try Chakra Suite by Steven Halpern or The Soul of Healing Meditations by Deepak Chopra. I’m currently using the Holosync System by Centerpointe Research Institute, which requires nothing of me except to listen to the recording for half an hour per day.

Quantify your efforts. Set goals, but keep an action journal. Record all of your efforts in the journal. You may find you’re doing more (or less) than you think you are to move yourself forward. Think of it as a project list for your life.

Monitor your unstructured time. Notice the (productive) things you gravitate toward doing with your free time and record them in your action journal. By becoming aware of what you like to do gratis, you will sensitize yourself to paying opportunities you may have unwittingly passed up before.

Feel the fear, and do it anyway. In her book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, Susan Jeffers, Ph. D. , talks about different levels and kinds of fear. Level I fear is either about fear of things that happen, or fear of things requiring action. Level II fear is about the ego and has to do with states of mind, not events. Educate yourself about the construct of your fear; expose it for what it is, and take action to disarm it.

Uncertainty is here to stay. Learn to anticipate, look for and embrace change. It’s the only thing you can count on to stay the same.

Helena Bouchez is a writer, musician, artist, teacher and former advertising agency associate technology director.

She has a B. Art from Wayne State University and a Certificate in Business Administration from University of Illinois Chicago Center for Entrepreneurship, is nearly finished with her first novel, tentatively titled “Till you Make It", and enjoys playing bass guitar in all three of her bands. ,


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