Follow the Bouncing Ball

57013434_640If you’ve job hopped a lot, you’re in really good company. The average person changes jobs 11 times within 32 years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hence, your average tenure at one workplace will be slightly below three years, as reported by economist Chuck Pierret who has followed 10,000 workers since 1979.

So much for the gold watch or golden parachute! Because you will frequently bounce from one job to another, you’re more likely to win an Olympic gold medal than vest in a company’s pension plan.  You have heard this before. You are “You, Inc.” You alone have the responsibility to prepare yourself for your future. And, it will be a bumpy ride.

You’re going to need personal resilience and strong relationships to help you between jobs, more than any other skills or abilities that can land you a job.

According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is the capacity to cope with traumatic and stressful events in life. This includes the ability to feel the pain of loss, and not curl up and want to die. Almost all change is loss at some level, so resilience is a life skill.

Supportive relationships are key to resilience. Meaningful, trusted friendships are something to build now, before anything happens. If you only reach out to us when you hit bottom and the pizza boxes are blocking the door, we might not work very hard to come in and console you. And, 500 virtual Facebook friends won’t do you much good. You need real friends. If you can’t remember, friends are people you see or speak to, share experiences with and meet for a meal.

Resilience also means you can manage strong feelings and resist impulses. When you feel wronged, it’s okay to indulge a revenge fantasy. It’s not okay to act on that fantasy. You may have sacrificed your personal life, worked long hours, or gone to extraordinary lengths to keep a project or client on track. That doesn’t mean you can throw any of that in the face of the person who’s letting you go. Reframe your dedication or contribution as simply those which you needed to do in order to keep the job as long as you did.

You also need to maintain a positive view of yourself, despite what’s happening on the job, or off it. Only a calm mind allows you to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out. Control your self-talk. Speak to yourself in encouraging words. Celebrate small triumphs on the way back up.

The great thing about expecting endings is that you can prepare for them. All great business leaders start with the end in mind. From the onset, they ponder various ways they might exit their going concerns: sell, franchise, move online, move offshore, and so on.

Lance Armstrong starts every race with the end in mind. He doesn’t get on his bike and wonder where the finish line is. He doesn’t hope the race will never end.

Choose an icon you like – maybe a big red bouncing ball or a sleek yellow road bike. Keep it where you can see it. You just might need a reminder of what you are likely to face, so you can prepare and succeed.

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