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  • Sean Burnley

Scary times remind me of the past—and that’s okay.

If you were unfortunate enough to have been caught up in the 2008-9 recession, the last couple of weeks may seem eerily familiar. Hindsight has gifted me with a sense of calm during the storm.

I’ve lived long enough to go through multiple recessions in my lifetime. But when I was younger, living in Atlanta, I never really felt the effects of a recession, that was until January of 2009. That was the first time in my professional working life that an employer had left me and not vice-versa. A ten year stint with that one company proved to me that no one was safe in an economic downturn. No matter how much contribution I thought I had provided to the company’s growth. No matter my loyalty, I was expendable when the chips were down. I’m afraid that’s what many out there will be finding out soon if they haven’t already.

And just as in 2009, I think an awful lot of people will be out on the street all looking for the few jobs available. A few jobs and a large pool of potential workers mean too many won’t be getting work. I know when I was laid off, I sent out resume after resume and there just was no work to be had. I remember my neighborhood becoming about 30% vacant—either foreclosed or just moved out. Of course it wasn’t that way everywhere in the country and some areas barely felt what my area was feeling.

I say all this reminds me of the past recession but the good news is, I survived it… and we will survive this downturn. Some of you may find that when the economy gets back on track that you too, will resist the “safety” of being employed by a company. You may turn to more creative means of making your living independent of an employer. And even better news is that in this digital information age, it is easier than ever to accomplish independent employment.

There are tons of free online tutorials about making an independent living. You-Tube offers an abundance of training, advice, and tips for all who are looking to break into their new career. Plus many online services have made earning from home independent of an employer so much easier. Even if you choose to re-enter the job market, finding alternative means of raising revenue can supplement your income. I don’t claim to be a guru in being a freelance artist, and actually I’m losing work like many of you, but I also don’t fear the potential losses like I once did. I know once the economy begins chugging along again, we will be just fine.

Looking back, the recession that ended my “employment” was also the event that began my new way of life. I learned from that time not to trust any company to provide for me and that it was up to me to employee me. Sure, I have had to give up a lot of things I once thought made me “successful.” But I have also learned not to judge success in terms of things acquired either. Finding happiness in where you are and what you have in life is the key to contentment. Adopt an attitude of gratitude and you will find navigating the storm easier than you realized.

Sean Burnley

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