Overcoming the Paralyzing Effects of Fear in a Worldwide Recession
I believe that we are now in a recession.
We have a job opening in my firm and I published it on LinkedIn. Within one day we have received about 50 job applications. That is very unusual. We normally get only 3 or 4 new job applications per day.
Another example: one of my friends told me that his nephew, a young and qualified German engineer, cannot find a beginner-level job. He had just signed an employment agreement in the German car industry but the company revoked the employment before it started.
How a Recession is Like
I know what these young people go through because I was in a similar situation in 1993. There was a serious recession in 1993 in Germany and also worldwide. I was a fresh beginner`s level engineer with a Master’s Degree (with distinction) in Engineering and with five working languages, but it was impossible to find a job.
This was a horrible time for me.
Thinking back, I was always going through the motions between the fear of failing in my life and the paralysis that follows from that fear.
Here is what I have done: I have sent out as many as 500 job applications. I remember that number because the German government reimbursed the costs of creating and sending out job application letters, and I got a big-time payback. And I had as many as five (5) job offers. Three job offers were from patent attorneys that wanted to have me as a translator. And I had been offered two scholarships for a Ph.D. program, one in Montréal (Canada) and one in Grenoble (France).
When I look back I recognize a pattern. Whenever fear caught me again, what I did before getting paralyzed was to prepare a job application. That created hope, and that prevented me from getting paralyzed.
But there was something else important that I did.
And if it worked for me it may also work for you.
Here is What I Did
I have systematically cut my expenses. For everything.
And I have hustled to set money aside that I could put into an emergency fund in my local bank in Munich. In order to so, I have given tuition lessons in machine elements to junior students, essentially in making technical drawings. There is a grim machine elements exam at the Technical University of Munich, and the junior students need to pass it to get their Bachelor`s Degree. Many fail. I could help them. That kept me above sea level, among others.
I have then taken the job of a materials testing engineer in a dark, dirty and run-down laboratory at the Université Joseph Fourier at Grenoble. I was supposed to write a Ph.D. thesis on polymer concrete but I did not like the crooked life of an academic that leeches on public research funds, at all. I used the good money that I made there to further build up my emergency fund, and I developed a plan in order to get out of this nonsense.
I stayed at the Grenoble university only for a short stint of three months. Enough time for me to find a job with a patent attorney where I could work as a translator. And I enrolled in a distance learning law school and I became a patent attorney myself. Ultimately, that was the most direct way to create my own serious business.
This is only where the real problems in my life started, as I recognize today.
But I was through the recession.
Here is What You Need During a Recession
When I look back, I needed three things in order to survive that 1993/1994 recession.
First of all, I have a standing relationship with God. That is a gift, and you can only ask for it. Many never ask.
Second, a way to generate hope. And the ongoing many job applications generated hope. Today – with the help of Internet – it is much easier to generate this hope, as compared with the year 1993.
Third, an emergency fund. You need this for psychological protection. This is your fall-back position. It will help you from becoming mentally frantic as the recession takes hold of the whole world.
There Are Some Extras That Help
Switch off the TV and do not listen to the news on the radio. Do not read the newspapers.
All that you will read is about the rising number of layoffs. The export will collapse. The stock market will tank.
There will be horror stories about laid-off workers. The job market is tightening.
You will see these people. They have few economic reserves. They are in cities. They are just barely getting by month to month. These people have never heard of a recession. This is their first real recession, as the last real recession was back in the 90ies of the last century.
Young families all over the world have not seen this. Their employers will have to let them go. They will have no choice. It is a fearful experience.
Most people will not be fired, but the fear of losing jobs will affect the entire economy. The stories of layoffs will create a sense of foreboding.
The knowledge of this going to happen will help you to prepare yourself.
Just as what my greatuncle Dr. Gabriel Schweiger told me about being a prisoner of war in Siberia, from 1945 – 1955: “Those who were not mentally prepared for 10 years in captivity became mad after 3 years.”
Call To Action
You must begin to prepare yourself for the effect of a recession that lasts longer than any other recession before.
Your job is to prepare yourself psychologically for a stream of bad economic news that will seem endless in a year from now.
The best thing you can do is to secure your existing income stream and try to gain another income stream. You should minimize your investment of money in new business. Invest time instead.
You must systematically cut expenses. And put the money that you set aside into an emergency fund in your local bank.
The good news is this: you will probably not lose your job. Most people won’t lose their jobs. But you will live under a shadow. Everybody around you will be depressed.
I suggest that you become active on the Internet. Set up your own website and trade ideas on LinkedIn.
You can also become associated with a real help group. Don’t join a misery group of people who indulge in their joint misery. Join a positive help group. Prayer groups in churches are good. Charitable committees in service organizations are good. The voluntary fire brigade is good.
During a recession, you must have a sense of doing something to counter the effects of the recession. That gives hope.
And stop watching and reading the news.