[05.13.10]
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5 Ways To Build A Stable Career and Life Platform

This post is about building a stable career and life platform. You need one. Here’s why.

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Earlier this week I wrote a post called Losing A Job That Really Matters. It was inspired by the many people I’ve met who have been through a lay-off or firing.  Some reacted with anger or sadness. Others with relief or understanding.

But the main point of the post was to recognize that some jobs matter to us more than others. And the reality is that even if your job matters, it doesn’t have to be the sole thing that drives you in life.

If your job is the main source of pride in your life, the bulk of your socializing, the only potential means of making money and the only place where you focus your creativity, then you are at risk.  At risk of being hit especially hard if you were to lose that job.

So my goal today, whether you are working or looking, is to get you thinking about building a more stable career and life platform. One that is balanced enough to allow some change without completely upending your life.

Many talk about the desire for a “stable job” when looking for work. Think bigger and you can build a stable career and life.

And here are the five ways to build a stable career and life:

1.  Create An Opportunity For Multiple Incomes

If you have more than one way of making money in your life, it adds stability. No question. And the goal here isn’t to have a second full time job. It could be one or two things on the side that contribute something to your vacation fund. Or it could be the seeds for a different career altogether. One that is not reliant upon someone else.

This will take time to develop and will certainly not generate a big income right away, but you are looking to give yourself a few other options. And there is a psychological value here as well.  Instead of feeling totally ruined after a lay-off, you have only lost one piece of your puzzle. And you can conduct your job search with perhaps a little more confidence knowing that your platform is still floating. Further, by trying some new career paths in a small way, you get a sense of what it feels like to do that job, to see whether people will pay you for it and find out if it is really a path to wealth (not a hole in which to bury savings).

You can create a product of your own (a book, jewelry, a blog, a better mouse trap) or a service (business consulting, interior design, social media). It will take time, yes. But as I said in the prior post, we all have a few hours a day to develop something else in life. Even if it doesn’t feel like it.

2.  Bring A Known Hobby To Life

Related to point #1 but here for a different reason. The goal here is not to make money. It is to focus your creativity to another significant place in your life. To create another source of pride and confidence.

Yours could be music, digital photography, gardening, scrap booking, writing, cooking and the like. So that if your day job is threatened, your first reaction won’t be “I’m sunk” but rather “Looks like I’ll have some more time to (your hobby) over the next few months!”. Well developed hobbies help to provide added dimension to our lives by associating our feeling of self worth with something we love and can do whether the day job is there or not.

3.  Find A Place To Give Back

Identifying a unique need in your community and filling it with your abilities, can be very rewarding. I wrote about this months ago as a great way to fill time, feel productive and keep your skills fresh. On Volunteering During Job Search. But this is about creating more of a lifelong commitment to an organization that matters to you. A church, a soup kitchen, a community center, a school, a charity or special event in your town. This one, in fact, is one of the key ways you can shift your focus away from a career-centered life to one also centered on the needs of your community. Bob Buford writes about this in his book Halftime – Changing Your Game Plan From Success To Significance. Shifting your focus in life toward having an impact on the world. Not just your or your company’s bottom line.

4.  More Time With Family And Friends

Some of us work too much. And many of us think too much about work even when we are not there. So you become it. And when a lay off comes, the effect is global because that role you lost had permeated your life. Like a sponge on a plate of water, that darn job sucked up every ounce of time and focus. And your social life suffered. It is what you talked about at parties, at little league games and at the gym. And some of your friends and family are tired of hearing about your job.

But I’ll bet you are a lot more interesting than the experiences provided by your day job. And I’ll bet your friends and family would love to hear about other parts of your life. Your re-focus will insulate you in a job loss situation since you will have a social life at home and in your community that rivals or outpaces your social life at work.

It is great to have friends at work. But those friendships are not always as strong as you think. If you’ve ever been laid off, you’ll know that work friendships are largely reliant upon your working at that company. Because they are built on shared work experiences. Of course, the real friends there you’ll keep. But most will re-focus their attention to other co-workers.  Instead of you.

5.  Create A Financial Safety Net

This is the advice that is hard to hear. And it is even harder to do. Many of us struggle to fund a 401k much less build a savings account. But the truth is that if you have money in the bank or access to money via a low interest credit line. You can relax just a bit knowing that a job loss is not catastrophic. That you have some time to figure this whole thing out. Money acts to stabilize a key life concern. And helps to build a solid platform. It also enables some of the other ideas above. In case a small investment will let you kick off a hobby, give back to the community or start a side business while you are working a day job.

So I hope that at least one of these five ways will help to create stable career and life. For more ideas on this concept and a deeper discussion on becoming someone of significance, you can read about 10 Ways To Become A Person Of Influence. It includes a lot of great examples of people who have done it successfully.

How have you found ways to balance your personal and work life? Do you have a stable career and life platform? If not, which of these ideas above will you pursue?

I’d love to hear from you . . . comment below or send me a note.

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Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Career Advice

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