“I know I’m a good performer but work pressure is very high, the business environment is very challenging. I’m always having the nagging feeling “Will I be around next quarter?” Colleagues who were rewarded for good performance before Christmas time have been fired at the start of the New year. I am taking more targets, working harder and longer hours than before, but still the uncertainty looms and adds to my stress” Do you feel this way? Read on.
Dealing with that kind of stress in unhealthy for anyone, but you can’t simply change it overnight. The first thing you need to do is ask yourself whether you really like your job. Perhaps you do, but it sounds like you’re sticking on because you feel given the age and stage of your life, finding a similar job or finding a better job is perhaps challenging. Also you don’t want to rock the boat with all the commitments you have and you still feel ok with the comforts you are enjoying in the current job although the job uncertainty and work pressure continues to take its toll on your mental well being and stress levels. Should you just be hanging around or should you actively contemplate alternative options? After all you still have the job and it’s just the fear that it may go away at some point. If that be the case, what should you do. A job change or even a career change is in order and you need to start exploring other options. It’s better to think of it and explore options seriously when you still have a job and not after you lose it.
You have two choices
If you absolutely need your job and are living paycheck to paycheck, as most people are, there are two things that you can do to reduce your stress level, though they will take time. The first thing that you need to do is take total control of your finances. There are good reasons for this, which will become obvious as we discuss this in the rest of the post. Depending on how you handle them now, this could be very easy or very difficult. Second thing is, if job is the only thing you are comfortable with and do no have any entrepreneurial inclination, then you should probably expand your networking now and start sending out subtle signals that you are looking for a change. After a certain age, networking and social media channels is the best way to find a new job.
Take control of your finances
Now let’s talk about taking control of your finances. The first step is to set aside 20% of your income – the first 20%. Can’t? Then it’s time to cut back. The first places to do so are the ancillary things. The latte factor, as David Bach says in his “Start Late Finish rich” book, is a great illustration of how seemingly minor financial decisions, such as buying a latte every day repeated over and over can be devastating to a person’s finances. There are free latte factor calculators online that can help you with this. If that’s not enough, then it’s time to cut back on things like your entertainment expenses and, yes, eventually things like your car and/or residence.
Why 20%? Psychologically it feels doable as it’s neither too high nor too low. Secondly this needs to be deployed for 2 different purposes which we will see below. Half of this (10%) is intended to be used for investing in money making opportunities so that you can develop a second source of income and remaining half (10%) is reserved for building your financial security.
Look for second source of income and other money making avenues
Let’s deal with the first half. The money that you set aside here must be invested for developing new skills, learning new stuff like making money online and exploring new possibilities for creating additional income sources. The key here is that it’s not a job. You could open a business, start investing in real estate (you can start making real money with less than $1,000 if you know what you’re doing), publish a book (thanks to Amazon Kindle, this can be both free and easy), or create something else that brings you income. Ideally you won’t even need the money and can come up with ideas that you can start on with nothing, but having that 10% saved, even when you’ve just done it for a couple of paychecks, gives you flexibility in what you can do to start developing this alternative source of income. Use the library or study from the internet to get you thinking about how you can do this and then pick one method of developing a second income that you are convinced can work for you. This will not only give you more money, but it’ll reduce your level of stress because you know that even if you do lose your job, you have an alternative source of income. The alternative source of income may not be big initially, but if you have a scalable value proposition, it could grow over time and will make you feel much less worried about losing your job. One good place to look for ideas will be to stop over at Tim Ferris blog www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/, the author of a very successful book called ‘Four hour work week’. If you have not read it yet, it’s worth looking at it. Or go study the methods and ideas given by Pat Flynn in www.smartpassiveincome.com. They are plenty of other avenues to look at, but this can give you some jump start ideas.
Be covered for 6-9 months of expenses
Now let’s come to the second half of the 20% you need to set aside for financial security. Why do you need to do this? Well, in general it is recommended that people have six months to nine months of expenses in savings so that the loss of a job does not wipe them out. If you are already well covered, then no issues, you can afford to take some risks. If not, you should definitely target at least to cover for 6 months at a minimum. Set smaller goals of individual months if you want, so that you can see yourself moving closer to your goal. If you do this consistently, especially if it’s in conjunction with the other things recommended below, you’ll be able to save up much faster than you realize. Every time you stick 10% of your paycheck into a “just in case” savings account, you will find yourself living with that much less stress. The first couple of times you probably won’t notice it too much, but once you see that you’ve accumulated a month’s worth of expenses, two months’ worth of expenses, etc. you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.