You did everything right. You found a job you enjoyed, saved half your income, maxed out your retirement plans, and built a nice nest egg. You are well on your way to financial independence. Then the inevitable happens. The economy slows or the boss retires or the company downsizes and you are unemployed. The nest egg you built is now providing a cushion to live, but you are no longer running towards financial independence. Your day of early retirement is slowly slipping into the future.
The great news is that you are better off than over 95% of the people. Most people suffer severe financial hardship when life throws a curve. Today I will show you how to reduce the chances of unemployment and stay firmly on the path to financial independence and early retirement.
Life Hack: Employees
At a recent company meeting I decided to ask a few questions. If you want answers you first need to ask questions. I wanted to know if my employees, my team, understood why I hired them. If they could understand my reasons for bringing them into the fold they would be in a better position to help clients understand the same.
Does anyone here know why I hired any of you? I asked. The question was simple. My team looked back and forth to each other wondering where I was going with this. Then a litany of answers came. “To get work done.” “To make clients happy.” I shook my head with each answer. My office manager finally hit on one of the correct answers when she said, “To make you money.”
I nodded. I explained there are really only two reasons any employer hires you. They think you will:
- Make them money, and
- Make their life easier.
If you don’t satisfy one or both of the above answers your days are numbered. Fulfill both requirements and you are set for life; fulfill one and you might be okay.
All the other answers are correct in a manner of speaking, but it all boils down to producing a profit and reducing the problems the boss has. If you fail at either of these answers it will only be a matter of time before you are replaced by someone who can fill the employer’s needs.
You can also reverse the question. Why do you work for your employer? Is it to make you money? How about making your life easier? Hmm. The goals are similar. Your job may not make your life easier now, but all that saving and investing will certainly be nice really soon so in the end your job is about making money and making your life easier at some point, too.
Now take the next step. If you don’t get paid when payday comes around how long you sticking around? What if your boss makes life at work a living hell? Just like the employer, if the dollars stop flowing or work becomes unbearable drama somebody has to go.
I know what some of you are thinking. You did all the right things. You made your employer money and made the boss’s life easier and he still let you go. Unemployment will be a very short-term situation for you regardless the economic environment when you possess the skills listed above. Imagine an individual who makes her employer money and simplifies her boss’s life in the job market. How many job interviews will you need to attend if you say, “Ms. Employer, I know my job is to make your life a bit less hectic and make this company money. Here is how I can do that for you.” Yeah. Your early retirement fund will be rocketing to the moon in zero time. Good employees are needed in all phases of the business cycle.
You work hard saving and investing. Don’t piss it away because of a short-term setback. Losing a job should not be a crisis; it should be an opportunity. Now you have a life hack to stay on course to a life of financial stability.
Life Hack: Business Owners
Business owners and landlords also want the secret to financial security. Similar questions need to be asked. Why do your clients come to you? Each business has different answers. Clients/customers need a problem solved. You hire a plumber to fix a sink. There are plenty of plumbers out there. Do you choose the cheapest? Maybe. But not always. The reason you get the order is because the customer thinks you will get the job done best for the lowest price. The customer does not want to over spend. She also does not want to repeat the project in two weeks either. It is another form of save me money and eliminate the stressful situation (make my life easier).
Most people are looking for value over cheap. Quality is important; so is a reasonable price compared to the quality offered. Even the frugal groups of people who frequent this blog are willing to spend money if they perceive value. If your goods and services save the client money and solve a problem in their life you make a sale.
Landlords also need to ask the questions, too. What do prospective tenants want? A clean, safe place to live at a reasonable rent rate maybe?
Life Hack: Personal Life
Once you ask the questions, you start getting answers. I have been accused of having a marriage too good to be true. People miss the whole story I am telling. The first three years of my marriage were tough. I was too young and too stupid to understand why I was so unhappy. Only through a stroke of dumb luck did I start asking myself questions. It was not intentional! I got lucky. I sat down and started thinking through the problems. This was something I had to do alone. I asked: Is this really what I want? Instantly I knew I wanted to spend my life with Mrs. Accountant. There was never any doubt. Remember, I lived alone for a few years before Mrs. Accountant and I met. I had to let go and accept my world would not be constant silent solitude anymore; I had a roommate. My world would have people in it: a wife and later children. It sounds petty to my ears now, but it caused me angst twenty-five years ago. The important thing I did was ask myself questions alone and sat until I answered them
A new crisis has entered my life. Over the last few years a new group of people entered my life who feel early retirement is a worthy goal. It is, just not for me. I understand the goal, talk about it here, and have no problem with people who do retire early. I subscribe more to the Zig Ziglar’s thought on retirement, “I thought about retirement once and decided against it.” Both courses through life are correct if it is correct for you. I have been asking serious questions I never asked myself before. I discovered why I have a farm. (The family farm went bankrupt the year I turned eighteen and I needed to prove farming could be done profitably.) That itch is now scratched. I no longer have steers, only chickens. Our nineteen gardens are down to seven this year. Questions allowed me to add balance to life.
The biggest question of all still remains: Do I retire? I have to ask often because I still don’t have an adequate answer. Therein lays another truth in life. Answers don’t always magically appear when the question is asked. Sometimes the question needs rephrasing and repeating to get the right answer. It also takes time. Your mind cannot start working on the problem until you first ask the question so now is a good time to ask the guy looking back from the mirror.
So, do I retire? I don’t think so. Not now at least. I love what I do so it would be crazy to walk away from my bliss just to prove I can. But I also know at some point I have to begin a transition to preserve the company. My talents and skills will be challenged as age takes its toll. It is also selfish to keep it all to myself. My team is capable of handling everything I can. I would miss my life’s work if I retired. So far my answers have been to keep going for now. It is an evolving answer. Such is true of so many things in life.
Life Hack: You
How many questions have you asked today? For me, I start each day with quiet meditation asking questions. By reflecting on the issues in my life I can develop answers to guide my day. The questions for getting and keeping a job are the same for all of us. The questions to a happy relationship are probably a bit different.
Questions need to be phrased in the positive to help. Why does my wife/husband never listen to me? is a terrible question. What can I do to help my wife/husband understand my feelings? is a much better question. Take time to think about the question as you ask. Open your mind to rephrasing the question so you can get a better answer. What if you really want to keep your job? Asking multiple questions can help you digest the possibilities. Sometimes the job is gone no matter what you do. By asking questions you prepare your mind for the next step. You avoid the deer in the headlights look when you ask quality questions and take the time to hear the answers. Ask questions until you get the answers you want. It will make your life easier.