Sunday, November 2, 2008

Quelling financial anxiety

This morning the New York Times ran a great article on quelling the financial anxiety that is running rampant in this country. They interviewed Margaret Wehrenberg, a clinical psychologist in Naperville, Ill., and co-author of “The Anxious Brain.” That's the permanent state of my brain: anxious. What a perfect article for me to read. According to Dr. Wehrenberg, I'm using my anxiety wisely: to prepare for anything. There is power and empowerment in action. Use the anxiety as fuel to get going.  

When I graduated from business school, I didn't have a signed job offer in-hand. I had turned down several because they weren't the right fit, and in the Spring of 2007, it was okay to do that because to economy was cranking along at a good clip. You could even negotiate a job offer. How quickly times have changed! I have friends who would take anything reasonable at this point, including a significant cut in pay and title, just to be working in their chosen field.  

I got a great job offer in June of 2007 but not before I had completely run out of money. I had to take a cash advance on my American Express Card and incur a finance charge - the only time I have ever had that happen in my 12 years as a card member. I read two books by Suze Oreman and have followed her advice to the letter. Since then, I have been on a diligent savings plan. Tax refund? Banked. Sale of car? Banked. One day of wages per pay period? Banked. I have set up automated funding into into my savings account every month and have been working to save 8 months of very modest living expenses. I started these habits when times were good, and now that times are not-so-good, these habits are easing my anxiety-prone mind.

So I'm in my apartment this morning, waiting for CBS Sunday Morning to start, drinking tea, eating granola, and battening down the hatches, or at least planning to. I love my job and am very happy to have it. The job losses of so many of my friends is weighing on my mind, and to remedy that, I feel like I need to consider what life would be or could be like if I were in their shoes. We all need to do that in this economy. So here's the plan:

Update the resume: keeping it fresh is something we should be doing all the time, regardless of the job market. It needs to be ready to go at a moment's notice. Update it on Linked-In, and any other on-line source you feel is appropriate.

Get out there: networking is a continuous activity. It's much easier to establish and refresh a network when you aren't looking for something, and then the network is there to tap when you're in need. Keep your name out there, and let your contacts know what you're up to.

Get your would-be action items in order: I am a list maker. I love lists of any variety. I'm working on several this morning - key contacts, brands I am passionate about (more to come on that in a later post), and job sources.   

It's rough out there and these are uncertain times. The best defense is one that is all-encompassing. We all want to feel safe and secure, and if this economy has taught us anything it's that security is self-made. As Ani DiFranco sang, "Self preservation is a full-time occupation."


Anonymous said...

Hi, Christa! This is Jennifer C., your fellow HD intern from the house next door in Cville! I have been meaning for months to comment that I appreciate your blog and your thoughtful take on all subjects you discuss. Reading the latest entry has become a part of my morning ritual: I love that you discuss a range of topics, both personal and professional, and are realistically hopeful, as opposed to a blind optimist. So, thank you, keep writing, and I hope we can catch up in the near future. Cheers!

Christa said...

Hi Jennifer! So great to hear from you!! And I feel so honored to be a part of your morning ritual. That is so nice of you a) to do that and b) to tell me. I so appreciate it. And I'd love to catch up and hear how you're doing! Where are you now???

All my best,

Lovebird said...

Great advice, thank you for sharing and putting a positive spin on things.

Christa said...

Hi Krystal,
Thanks so much for reading my blog and for leaving a comment. I am glad that the advice was helpful. I feel like the best we can do now is to be optimistic realists.

I checked out your blog - very cool information. Where is your business based?

All best,