Looking at the recession stories from a Crystal Ball

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I figured that if you were always looking out into the future making observations about it, you could probably never be wrong. By looking into the future, you would always have the chance to recast your observations before they were proven untrue.

I thought people would think highly of you because as long as you saw positive things ahead, it would make them happy or reinforce what they wanted to believe.

And, there's the side benefit that never being wrong assures a certain degree of job security.

But then I started thinking about this newspaper columnist I know. He writes on economics and people refer to him as Mr. Doom & Gloom. Well, Mr. Doom & Gloom is a bit of a futurist himself. His friends rib him, saying he has successfully predicted 27 of the last three recessions.

So you can see there is a downside to this.

But there's no downside to becoming a futurist for your own career. Unfortunately, most of us never realize that and stumble along accepting whatever happens in front of us.

We've all heard about this New Age idea that we have to take responsibility for managing our careers and plotting our own way in the world. Yet many of us fail to do that and, in fact, wind up doing just the opposite.

As rational human beings, we have a tendency to frame the future with our past. If we have been laid off twice in the last 10 years, we begin to wonder when it will happen again. If we have a career setback, we think we have done something to deserve it.

This is the kind of thinking that never lets us get ahead, never gives us the chance to thrive in our work and never take the chances we need to take in a business world that is constantly changing.

Business never waits for workers to adjust to its needs. Companies make changes and expect workers to embrace them, or they hire new workers they know will embrace those needs.

Here's some things to think about as you evaluate your future, either with your current employer or with another one.

- Envision the future of your business and then figure out how you fit into it.

Most likely, your business is either undergoing dramatic change today or will in the near future. Instead of fearing this, look for the possibilities it is bringing. Just because you haven't done something before doesn't mean you can't do it now. Unfortunately, workers are often told their limits by others. Don't take that sitting down.

- Acknowledge that nothing is permanent, particularly when it comes to our livelihoods.

Many workers surrender to the forces of corporate structure. But when compliance with the expectations of others or believing that others hold the key to your success, you are losing valuable initiative and creativity that you should be using to create a more successful work environment for you and your company. Too many workers have lost their drive because they think the company will stifle them. Companies know that nothing is permanent, so you should, too.

- Make new friends in your workplace.

You might not think there is anything wrong with your current group of work friends, but if you look closely, they probably are a lot like you. We grow by being exposed to new ideas and fresh perspectives. Those we know best probably think very similarly to us. New acquaintances, on the other hand, can open up our minds to new ways of doing things and different perspectives on what we are doing now.

- Focus on what you have to do today and how you can do it better.

The future starts today so the quicker you move the better off you will be. You don't have chart out an entirely new career or job to get rolling. All you have to do is adopt the attitude that you will look at things with an open mind, explore options that you might have dismissed before and that you have an opportunity to be more satisfied in your job.

The future is where your employer is headed. You can either choose to be part of that future by thinking that you are, or you can retreat into the comfort of the past. Just don't blame your employer if they move ahead and you don't.

© Copley News Service

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