I want to introduce you to Vanessa. A single mother, living and working in London for the past eight years. Two months ago she was told that she was to lose her job; the usual reasons like budget cuts, restructuring and so on. Naturally, she is very worried about her future. She is 46 years of age and her chances of getting a similar job in the City are very slim.
Age is still a big issue when it comes to jobs, whatever anyone says. Once you pass 45 you’re going to struggle in the job market. Of course, she has been actively looking for other jobs from the day she was told that she had to leave, but with very little luck.
Having to provide for a teenage child and herself without any mentionable back-up is scary. She’s got about three months before she runs out of money.
What would you do?
Most of us would analyse her situation and probably come up with lots of ideas about what she should do. But let me tell you, she’s already been told most of that, thought about and tried. None of it changed her situation or makes her feel any better.
She is even thinking about starting her own company on a shoestring in the hope that it might generate some quick money, but she doesn’t know anything about it and that scares her even more. She thinks that even if she finds another job, the way things go today, it would only be a matter of time before she is back in a similar situation: older and wiser, but no further forward. That thought scares her too.
There are many women like Vanessa out there – and the numbers are growing. But let’s make one thing clear. It doesn’t just affect women. More and more men are falling into the same trap and they don’t have it much easier either. Of course, it’s different from case to case and I am not talking about statistics here. These are just my personal observations based on my own studies and experience.
Believe in the values you can create
Vanessa is very clever and probably very good at her job, but like many of us, we stop developing our own skills and talents and we stop watching what is going on in the market. Having a job somehow puts us in a cage and we’re no longer interested in what is going on outside.
I don’t mean looking for other jobs all the time, but more like watching how the value we provide fits the market. If we find that we can’t provide any value to our current employer, the chances are high that we might be the next on the list.
As a single person, it is very difficult for us to change the job market, the employment situation, the legal system or the political side of things. The one thing we can control is what we do as a person. Markets are changing all the time, with or without us. If we want to play a role in this market we need to be able to predict its change and adjust accordingly.
This probably wouldn’t have prevented Vanessa from losing her job, but at least she would have been prepared for what’s to come. But most likely she would have quit a long time ago herself and moved into a position where her knowledge and expertise would be of the highest value. The decision would have been hers. This is a much less scary position to be in.
I call this entrepreneurial thinking. It has nothing to do with running a company. It is the way you manage yourself, think and create your own future. It is about understanding your own flow. The things that work for you naturally and applying those to everything else around you. It is about becoming the best version of you.
How do you do that?
I always suggest starting with some common sense. If you want to improve something you need to know where and what that something is.The first step should be to identify your current situation.
The next step is to do the opposite we trained ourselves to do and look at what we are trying to achieve. That means concentrating on what we are going to gain instead of what we might stand to lose.
Once you are clear about this, your point of view shifts and you start looking in the direction that works for you. The steps to take become clearer and most of your fear should turn into action. As soon as you act things start changing. Your questions change.
Instead of asking yourself “How can I find another job?” you’re going to ask yourself “How can I do…while making enough money to provide for…?” Your questions have direction and a possible outcome. Something to walk towards.
This all sounds great but what is Vanessa going to do now?
Together we established the main four base points every entrepreneur should be aware of. She now knows who she is (as a person), where she is right now, where she wants to go and how she is going to get there.
It will take some time to get it all sorted out, to learn, practice and to become the best in her field. In the meantime, she’s looking for a job that covers her requirements for now in the field that fits her.
She might have to start at the bottom or do something outside of her skill set, but she knows where she wants to go and will plan her career moves to get there. She gained a purpose – and that made it all worthwhile.
She is on her way to becoming the best version of her.
When do you start becoming the best of You?