Take A Career Risk: Your Worse Case Scenario Might Not Be So Bad

​Jay is a friend, not a career counseling client.  He was laid off from his upper management job at a well known company in the northern part of Connecticut four years ago.  From his perspective, the lay off was completely unexpected.  He was 47 at the time.  His wife didn’t work. They have two children, 11 and 9 at the time of the lay off. In a separate post, I will describe the financial impact precisely as it will be instructive.  Here, the big picture will suffice as a tale of what happens when things don’t work out.  It usually is not that bad.

After the lay off, Jay immersed himself in the job search.  His precise skills, the stagnant economy and his desire for a salary in the $150-200,000 range created a challenge.  He had a few preliminary interviews.  But nothing came along. Jay had harbored dreams of having his own consulting business but he had no preparation for doing so.  He started slowly but built up his business to pay the bills for a period of time.  But he made the mistake of spending too much time working “in the business” as opposed to “working on the business.” He did not create a pipeline of clients and his business tanked.
When I met with Jay for dinner, I thought he would be depressed.  The worst-case scenario- business failure – had happened.  Jay, while very smart and very funny, is not a positive optimist.  I was surprised by Jay’s authentically positive viewpoint:
“I am applying for jobs but I know that I can create my own money if needed.  So, even if I’m hired for a full time job, I won’t be as nervous about getting laid off again. And, if I commit to my business, I think I’ve learned enough to at least create an income that meets our basics.  I’ve definitely been stressed about money but I’ve loved my time home.  I got to spend time with kids, get in shape, and put the house in order.  And, at the end of the day, my 401k (which he had to dip into considerably) only went from $390,000 to $280,000 over 4 years. But my home value went up by 60,000, at least according to Zillow, during the same time.  And, in the meantime, Erin (Jay’s wife) went back to work and soon enough will earn enough to meet our basic income needs. Not good but not disastrous.”