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Hey, Colleague: How can I prepare myself for a possible recession?

Consider some side hustles, to help you weather the economic storm.
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Drivers are feeling the pinch at the pump.

Send questions about careers, productivity and work-life balance to kpn@glaciermedia.ca. Please include your name and location, or request to remain anonymous.


Hey Colleague, 

Everyone is talking about a looming recession and I’m already noticing it in rising gas prices and food prices. Should I be worried about this recession? How can I prepare myself for this unpredictable economy?

—Anonymous


Everything in the universe is cyclic, there is no such thing as constant. Stasis means momentum is stalled and nothing grows. In order for species to evolve, we experience cycles such as of life and death, happiness and sadness, success and failure, gains and losses. There is not one without the other. 

Being aware of this concept is the first step of having peace of mind in unpredictable times.

Effects of a recession have a major impact on lives including unemployment, homes losing equity, harder borrowing money, and small businesses taking huge hits; yet it is a natural part of a business cycle. We are also experiencing an inevitable changing world order; however, this is nothing to be fearful of because if we learn to ride the wave, we can effortlessly surf through the cycles of life. 

Having the foresight to understand this gives you a chance to recession-proof your life, finances and mind. 

Recessions are detrimental to those who are unprepared or those who procrastinate. There will always be winners and losers. 

Set yourself out to be a winner by staying one step ahead. 

If you are already suffering from the effects of the pandemic, don’t fear — it’s never too late to take control of your life but I promise you, if you don’t start now, you will regret it. Mistakes and failures are good but don’t make the same mistake twice.

You can google tips on how to survive through a recession and you’ll get many generic tips such as increasing your emergency fund, prioritizing paying off high-interest debt, continuing to contribute to the stock market, etc. 

Here is my take on how to further recession-proof your life:

Reframe fear and anxiety to your advantage

I understand you may be scared but when events are inevitable, it’s pointless living in fear. Instead, use this time wisely to reframe what is happening and use it to your advantage. The trick is to take control of your environment instead of letting it control you. You can either take control of your life or play victim to circumstances. How? Read on.

Recession-proof your mind and cultivate an iron mindset

We only build radical resilience and learn how to adapt when times get hard. Many of us are too comfortable and have never truly been tried and tested in harrowing circumstances so in the case of recession and job loss, or the pandemic, those who didn’t set themselves up to pivot quickly suffered the most. You may also have been fortunate financially but suffered mentally and spiritually.

Don’t worry. There are ways to build resilience by consistently forcing yourself out of your comfort zone. I built mine throughout my 20s with intense workouts, Crossfit, cycling — it pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me to embrace pain and reframe it as growth. Taking advantage of neuroplasticity, I trained my mind to run fearlessly towards challenges.

You can do the same. Do something you normally wouldn’t do and do this over and over — and if it scares you, that’s even better. Rock climbing, dancing lessons, a hard hike, climbing mountains on a bicycle, running a marathon. What are you waiting for? Nothing worthwhile grows in comfort zones.

Believe in your ability to provide for yourself

The nine-to-five economy actually stifles resilience and adaptability because it creates an illusion of stability by keeping you in your comfort zone. Once that illusion is shattered by layoffs, confidence plummets. 

If you want to start taking control of your life and build multiple streams of income so as not to have all your eggs in one basket, having confidence in yourself is 100% non-negotiable. You can always have a side hustle while working at your full-time gig. As long as it’s not in the same or competing industry, ethically that’s OK but you be the judge of your own circumstance.

Level up your skills

You may have lost your job but you haven’t lost your skills and network. Analyze your current skills — are there skills you want to learn to land your next dream job? Don’t waste this time you may never have again. Again, reframing a situation to your advantage.

Now you understand the risk you are taking by having all your eggs in one basket, research what industries may come out on top of this recession. Or is there a dream career you have been chasing? Now is the time.

These days, you can pretty much learn anything and everything online and in most cases, for free. There’s no excuse. How bad do you want it?

Start hustling

We all survived 2020. Many valuable lessons were taught as the frail infrastructure of our economy unveiled itself. 

Why? 

We are too comfortable. 

Resilience and adaptability have dropped to an all-time low because everything we want is at our fingertips. Convenience has made us dangerously complacent.

Start by analyzing what has happened — which industries failed while others thrived. What did the winners do? Notice patterns. 

What I noticed is the necessity to have multiple streams of income to survive unpredictable times. I’ve been a freelance consultant since 2016 after leaving a decade-long career in tech. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy but the peace of mind knowing that I am in control of my life and income is worth it to me. On top of that, the instability of working for yourself helps me build the resilience I need to thrive in an unpredictable world.

It takes time to build your dream side hustle but in dire times, there are no shortages of jobs out there: driving for Uber or Lyft, delivering food for DoorDash or Grubhub, grocery shopping with Instacart, walking dogs with Rover, running errands with TaskRabbit. 

Stay humble because we must do all we can to survive. And I promise this will build resilience.

Drop your ego

Another unemployment issue I noticed is those in high-paying careers such as engineering or older folks who have been laid off. They feel ashamed about taking lower-paying jobs because it may feel like they’re taking a step back — but it’s temporary. 

And who knows? Maybe you will meet interesting people who pivot you to another path in life.

Make the most out of every situation. I recommend social jobs such as bartending, waiting tables and driving in a rideshare program which gives you a chance to meet new people and build your network. 

The takeaway

Don’t wait for things to get worse before taking action. There’s no winning with failing, no light without the dark, no rainbows without the rain. We need hard times to prevent us from getting soft when times are good. The world naturally ebbs and flows and we must go along for the ride. 

I know it’s easier said than done but you can take control of your life by learning how to reframe situations, shift your mindset, not have your eggs in one basket, learn how to hustle, and build radical resilience.