For many agencies April signaled the start of harsh budget cuts across the board including cuts to pay and benefits. For many state and local level agencies, those harsh cuts began last year. Regardless of when the cuts began, many employees find themselves in an uncomfortable situation with more time on their hands than they had originally planned, whether through furlough, reduced hours or eliminated positions. At first blush, the situation sounds pretty dire and unsettling as employees consider the impact of these cuts on their personal financial situations.
If you are one of the employees in this situation, I respect the challenge that you are currently facing and recognize that it can be absolutely terrifying. And, what if you chose to view this situation as a Golden opportunity, a giant RESET button, where you design, create, and build the career you intended to have all along. What might be possible for you?
Many years ago, my uncle worked for Piedmont Airlines. He’d been with the airline for well over 30 years. Over the years, he had become quite accustomed to, and frustrated with, the bureaucracy and politics of the airline industry. AND, he had grown accustomed to receiving his regular paycheck. One day he walked in to work to learn that Piedmont had declared bankruptcy, and he had just been laid off. He had a stay-at-home wife, a son, a mortgage payment, and NO paycheck.
My uncle realized that he had a choice to make. He could choose to see the situation as a violation of trust, a betrayal, and a disaster, OR he could choose to see it as an opportunity that he didn’t quite understand yet. Taking a deep breath, he chose the opportunity. He began to identify what things mattered most to him. Then he invested in himself, even in the lean financial times, to hone skills that he never thought he’d need at work, and ultimately he started his own business. Within three years he had built a very successful business and repeatedly stated that getting laid off was the greatest gift he had ever received.
Now I’m not saying that you ought to trot off and start your own business. I am saying that the extra time you have on your hands offers a perfect opportunity to take stock of your career so far. Is it everything you always dreamed it would be? If not, use this opportunity to see what’s missing. If so, what one thing would make it even MORE of what you imagined? Use the time to invest in yourself. Whether you finally take control of your health by taking a nutrition class and learning to cook, or walking 3 miles a day like you said you would “when you have time,” or working with a coach that YOU hire for YOUR OWN personal development, now is the time.
Inside the walls of our respective bureaucracies, it is easy to fall into the trap of “if my organization wanted me to know X, they’d teach it to me.” While the programs offered to us are outstanding, they can only take you to a certain point in your personal and professional development. If you want more, you must become more. The most successful people in the world, including those in our own organizations, did not wait for someone else to provide them the class, the experience or the coach. They sought out the learning for themselves. As they invested in themselves to a greater level, their organizations also became willing to invest in them. Deciding to invest in yourself on a regular basis very quickly creates an upward spiral in all areas of your life, including your career.
Regardless of how sequestration shows up for you, you have the ability to decide what impact it will have. Are you ready to turn sequestration into your greatest opportunity? If so, I have a short quiz that will show you what areas need your attention most and also a monthly newsletter containing valuable leadership tips and strategies to get you on your way. To get your hands on these great resources, enter your name and email address at www.consciousleadershipblueprint.com
Brought to you by Martha Austin, Leadership Engineer and Personal Career Architect. Dedicated to inspiring prosperous service.