what desperation looks like
I am going to be laid off soon. I know that sounds terrible, but I’m prepared for it. We live within our means, I have an alternative income stream (and I’m working on more of them) and I am always looking to earn more than I spend. I work with a lot of consultants and terrified Wall Street employees who don’t think the same way – their terror is “being laid off.” Their reaction to an arbitrary mass layoff is to scramble to the next mega-employer who is just as likely to lay them off in the next round of downsizing as their previous employer was.
The same people who crave stability and the idea of “never being without a paycheck” are often in the most unstable positions – they just don’t realize it. They are so dependent on the next paycheck that they can’t begin to imagine even two or three weeks without a paycheck. There are other people who never anticipate a paycheck – they are always working on freelance gigs or alternative income. I’m somewhere in-between; I welcome the chance to work on my alternative income streams when my paychecks from clients run low. For me it’s a challenge, and I think it’s largely because I’m willing to think of life without a paycheck. Too many people think that life without a paycheck almost literally means death and despair.
Many of the employees around me are in total terror of a single week without a paycheck. Their expenses continue without pause and their income stops at the drop of a hat. I am much more comfortable knowing that some of my income will trickle on even when my consulting income stops, and far more comfortable knowing that I have a long-term plan of succeeding with my alternative income – something far too many of my colleagues don’t even admit is possible. Most are consumed with worrying about their IRAs and 401(k)s that they aren’t eligible to touch for years and years. Their time would be better spent worrying about what they can do to make more money on the side, NOW.
What all of these people fail to realize is that the instability they feel in uncertain times like these arises from their own lifestyle, and not from the government or the corporations or “the economy.” Learning how to build prosperity, not just surviving paycheck-to-paycheck, is a big first step. Learning to live within your means gives you a more stable life. Learning to think more about making money than saving money helps create stability. Creating alternate wealthstreams in your life gives you stability. Getting a paycheck twice a month doesn’t guarantee any sort of stability at all.
Desperation arises naturally when people face an unknown future with limited choices for action. Creating more choices for yourself is the best way to avoid desperation. Being an employee is a necessary evil for a lot of people (and there are still, believe it or not, people out there who love their jobs). Health care benefits are a big reason. The idea that being employed is “more stable” is hammered into many of us from school age. Even an entrepreneur can tie up too much of his or her wealth into one stream. The real answer to desperate times is to constantly look for ways to start new “wealthstreams.” Just as a chair with four legs is more stable than one with three, a person with multiple income sources is always going to be more stable than someone with only one income source – regardless of who makes more in total.