Working scaredI’m a bit of a news junkie. I’ll confess I pay the monthly fee for satellite radio just so I can listen to CNN, BBC and Bloomberg.
By: Mary Lebens, Staff Columnist, The Farmington Independent
I’m a bit of a news junkie. I’ll confess I pay the monthly fee for satellite radio just so I can listen to CNN, BBC and Bloomberg. I look forward to hopping into my hatchback in the morning so I can get my daily news fix during the morning commute.
Yet lately I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with the news, even the local TV news. I desperately need my news fix but most of the news stories are depressing or enraging, depending on whether they’re talking about folks getting laid off or mortgage companies scamming homeowners. Even though I long to see my favorite news anchors, Jeff Passolt on channel 9 and Esme Murphy on WCCO, I am trying to keep myself away from the TV. Jeff and Esme will just have to soldier on minus one loyal viewer until the recession is in the rear view mirror.
Back in 2002, when the last economic downturn caused IT workers to be laid off in droves, one of my colleagues said we were all “working scared.” It was pretty terrible having the layoff axe hanging over our necks every day. Now it’s happening all over again, and almost everyone is working scared.
How do we get through this? As someone who’s dodged about a half-dozen rounds of layoffs, I can share a little advice. First, do everything you can to shore up your financial position. Build up an emergency savings fund, even if you can only save a little bit from each paycheck. Take a work-related class in the evenings to improve your skills. Here in Farmington we’re lucky to have Dakota County Technical College right up the road. These two things will help you survive a layoff and make you more marketable for a new job. That will bring you a little peace of mind during the work day.
Second, do something to help someone else out who has lost their job. Clean out the closet and bring your extra clothes to Goodwill. Clean out the pantry and drop off canned goods at the food shelf. Doing something to help someone takes your mind off of yourself. During 2001 and 2002 I signed up for a lot of fun volunteer activities, like collecting baby clothes for a foster child program and teaching a class about butterflies at the nature center. My best volunteer gig was the day I signed up for a Children’s Literacy Day event. I spent a couple of hours outside in the 90 degree heat dressed as Spot the dog. Even though the sweat was rolling into my eyes and I was squinting inside the big dog head, little kids kept running up to hug me and hold my paw. I didn’t think about work once.
My third piece of advice, and this is one thing I struggle with myself, is don’t listen to the news too much. Unless you’re the Federal Reserve Chairman, there is nothing you can do on your own to make the economy better. Listening to the news has made me so worried about the economy that I might have to cancel the satellite radio subscription and roll the console TV into the closet. Do what you have to do to drive out worry, whether it’s taking a break from the news, sharing lunch with a co-worker or digging into your daily work. No one should have to be working scared. There’s a dangerous economy out there, but I hope you stay financially safe and sound.