Our Good Fortune Enables Career Change

“Due to the frigid weather, we have opened up town center for anyone in need of heat…” so began the voice mail from Madison’s Town Selectman.  I recall similar messages of “we can help” during Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene from officials from Old Saybrook (where I live and have an office) and Madison (where I also have an office). 

I recently watched a reasonably good movie: Buen Dia Ramon.  It is a story of a young man from rural Mexico.  In his world, there are no safety nets. If he can’t provide for his family, the government, charitable organizations, other family, and neighbors are not there to help. We are beyond fortunate in that we have public, non-profit, and for most, private safety nets that nearly guarantee that anyone who is living in Connecticut and reading this post will have the basics of food, shelter, medical care, and clothing even if unemployed for a prolonged period of time.  

I have a friend who had the worst career news one could get: termination with no warning. At the time his wife didn’t work either. While both he and his wife have generated income, neither has had a full time job in over 4 years. The outward effect: pretty much nothing. During the first year, the combination of severance, unemployment, family gifts, and some work from his wife kept my friend from losing any money. During the second year, the stock market was going really well so when they took money out of their 401ks, the net effect basically balanced out. During the third year, their collective income was reasonable. Their 401k had to be dipped into but their home value increased.  So again their net worth was not terribly effected. One of their parents also gave them an old car. Only in the 4th year when income dropped, family gifts stopped, and the stock market went nowhere did their net worth drop.  My friend told me that their net worth went down from around $400,000 to $340,000. I’m sure that’s not comforting. But he was pleasantly surprised that nothing profoundly terrible had occurred and noted his stress had subsided.  All readers should double highlight that nothing in their financial life had been permanently damaged even after 4 years of unemployment.

Most everyone regrets not taking chances with one’s career. I certainly would never advocate risky career moves but almost all of Career Counseling Connecticut’s clients are too risk-adverse.  We have incredibly good fortune to live where we do.  This gives you the liberty to take some risk to find your career dream.