“I was taught that everything is attainable if you are prepared to give up, to sacrifice, to get it. Whatever you want to do, you can do it, if you want it badly enough, and I do believe that. I believe that if I wanted to run a mile in four minutes, I could do it. I would have to give up everything else in my life, but I could run a mile in four minutes. I believe that if a man wanted to walk on water and was prepared to give up everything else in life, he could do that.” – Stirling Moss

Edward Chase graduated at the top of his class from Duke University’s business school — but right now, he’s one of 4.7 million Americans who are out of work. According to career counselor Damina Birkel in a recent USA Today article, many are so demoralized that they do nothing all day but watch soap operas and drink beer.

Chase can’t find the kind of management position he’s used to, so he’s been scrounging around to pick up occasional odd jobs. “For the last week, I’ve just been staring out of the window,” Chase said. He has sold his home, his wife has divorced him, and he’s on antidepressants.

“Everything is gone,” he said. “I’ve spent my retirement. It’s all gone.”

In truth, the most important thing that Chase has lost is his belief in himself. It’s crazy to think that just because you haven’t been able to find a particular type of job in a particular market there’s nothing left for you to do but menial work.

Chase needs to do what hundreds of ETR readers are doing — taking control of their own futures. If I were coaching him right now, I’d make the following recommendations:

  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Or at least limit the amount of time you spend each day on feeling lousy to 10 minutes.
  • Accept responsibility for where you are. It’s not the economy that caused your joblessness. It’s you. And it’s not society that made your wife leave you either. Admit that your present condition is the result of things that you did and did not do.
  • Begin working on your new life. Starting tomorrow, spend at least 60 hours a week either earning money, looking for work, and/or learning a new trade.
  • Stop drinking.
  • Stop watching television.
  • Stop staring out the window.
  • Get to bed early and get up at the crack of dawn. Before you do anything else (or better yet, before you go to bed), plan your day. Plan carefully, using the ETR Goal-Setting Program or something like it.
  • Spend the first two hours of every day working on the one thing that will make the biggest long-term difference in your life. If that means getting a new career, make learning those new career skills your first priority.
  • Spend at least an hour a day doing some form of physical exercise. Half of it should be vigorous (such as stair climbing, running, or weight training); the other half should be therapeutic (such as yoga, pilates, or stretching).
  • Keep a journal of everything you do and take notes on what works and what doesn’t.
  • Start building a network of support.
  • Consider going back to school to get a degree — or another degree. This is a smart thing to do when you’re stuck in neutral, and a lot of people do just that during recessions.
  • If you can’t afford the time or money that it takes to go to school full-time, learn a new skill. Karen Taylor-McMillan was a grant worker for a non-profit organization. Now, at the age of 45, she’s unemployed and unlikely to find another, similar job. So she’s learning how to be a chef — a very saleable skill today.

Here’s the point: Don’t be discouraged by rising unemployment. There are more than a million jobs out there that pay over $100,000 a year — and you just want one of them.

How do you find one of those jobs? Go back and re-read Message #1068. Make a list of the high-paying jobs that interest you. Pick two or three that you think you might be able to do well (and learn in less than a year). Then set up some “informational” interviews with prospective employers and talk to people who are already working at the kind of job you think you would like. Gather as much information as you can, especially information about:

  • what it takes to do the job well
  • what employers look for when hiring entry-level people
  • the big secrets behind the job — the tricks and skills successful people employ to get to the top and stay there

I asked the ETR staff to contact Edward Chase and try to convince him to challenge himself with one of our recommended career-building programs. If he agrees to do it, we’ll keep you posted on his progress.