“By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man’s, I mean.” – Mark Twain (Following the Equator, 1897)
At the peak of the economic boom in the fourth quarter of 1999, unemployment was at its lowest level in a generation. More to the point, perhaps, the gross number of Americans employed was the highest it has ever been in history. Although this trend started showing cracks throughout 2000, there was still overall growth — enough at least to keep people hoping for a new surge in 2001.
That hope has been dashed. In the past 12 months, and in the past three months in particular, just about all the positive employment trends have been halted or reversed. Demand for executives, which rose almost nonstop for most of the ’90s, has suddenly taken a nosedive. The airline industry has laid off more than 100,000 workers. Related industries — travel, conferences, hotels, etc. — are all in trouble and making tough decisions.
In every business I know — from publishing to marketing to real estate and banking — business owners are feeling the hurt. Yet by historical standards, the stock market is still overvalued.
My gut feeling is that we are going to endure a long period — at least five years and maybe twice that long — of recession or worse. Like prior recessions, this will be a difficult period for people who are (a) dependent on others for a paycheck, (b) unprepared financially, (c) emotionally weak, and (d) strategically ignorant.
To survive and possibly prosper in the coming years, you are going to need to:
1. Make yourself indispensable at work.
2. Create a second income.
3. Curtail your spending and lower or eliminate your debt.
4. Buy investments when they become dirt-cheap.
This is a very broad outline. I have already addressed some of these issues in recent messages, and I intend to cover them all in depth as we move forward in time.
The main idea is this: Now is not a time to be laid off at work, so be realistic about the situation you are in. Your job may be in jeopardy, and you need to do everything you can to secure it.
While you are working hard to do well at work, spend some spare time moving toward a second income. Specifically, I recommend you consider one of the American Writers & Artists Institute (AWAI) courses (in copywriting, graphic design, resume writing, etc.). They are serious, solid moneymakers. If you get started now, you may be prepared when the time comes that you need to bring in some serious money on the side.
Most importantly, keep your subscription to ETR active — and read it every day. It doesn’t take much time, but it will do you a lot of good.
Reading ETR every day means you are committed to doing something specific and positive about your future.
[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]