As goes the economy, so goes our lives, right?

Or as former President Bill Clinton once said: "It’s the Economy, Stupid!"

Once upon a time I was insulated from all this screaming, roller coaster mayhem. Or so I thought.

After college, I worked from 1979 straight through to 2002, twenty-three mostly good years. Many of them wonderful, especially in retrospect.

The 1980s was the best decade of my life. I had a good job I loved and was appreciated for, and I made good money. On crisp autumn weekends, my love and I would mount my magnificent Harley - stroked, ported, polished, loud and fast.

She would tuck in behind me and we would become one with the bike, accelerating into our happy, love-infused, myopic little lives. The power, speed and grace of my then radical bike and my consummate skill in laying it over until the pipes scraped into sparks, made us laugh and accelerate harder. The coolness of the air, the sun warming our black jackets as we flew, free and happy, made us feel that all was right with the world. We were totally alive… and utterly clueless.

When the 1990s came, everything began to shift, imperceptibly at first… then with an increasing velocity that spun our heads. I wondered, is it just me who feels these global, economic tectonic shifts beneath my feet?

In 1990, I left Kodak and went with their Biotech spin-off called Genencor. A good move, although Kodak had been very good to me.

Then, in 1995, we had our first RIF (reduction in force). I was what I refer to as “pseudo-RIFed.” Twenty minutes before the RIF meeting I received a call with three offers back into the company.

Within two years I was heading up the place from which I’d been pseudo-RIFed, but now I was faced with executing a new RIF. The whole experience changed me deeply.

Once upon a time, I looked at people on the news with some detachment. After my RIF experience, when I saw those who were unemployed or refugees in another country, I wasn’t so detached.

I remember watching the news one day with a clip of refuges crossing a border during the Bosnian crisis. There were two older parents desperately trying to carry their mentally-ill adult child across the border, struggling terribly. No one helped them.

A feeling washed over me that I was witnessing a future event, here….

That snapped me back to the year 1973. I was a senior in high school during the Arab oil embargo. I remember waiting in a gas rationing line at least ¼ mile long with my father, his jaw clenched tight. As we drew closer to the pump, tensions escalated as some people tried to allow friends to budge into line.

Two very big, furious men nearly came to blows two cars in front of us because of this. The only reason there wasn’t a horrific, bloody fight was because they both knew they’d get messed up, bad.

On that day I realized that the social fabric is thin and can be instantly torn to shreds. I’ll never forget that or the explosive, negative electric current in the air, waiting for a spark. Or the tension in my father’s face as he probably thought about caring for my sister Susan and me.

Many years later, sometime in the 1990s, when working for Genencor, we hosted some Russian scientists after the fall of the Soviet Union. These were brilliant men who had worked on the Soviet space program and were now hawking their wares in the US. They told me stories of the collapse and driving through the Russian countryside looking for half of a cow to buy so they could feed their families. A chill went through me as they told their riveting, real stories. That feeling washed over me again… could this happen here?

I hope with all my heart that we don’t sink into a full blown depression or monetary collapse, like Argentina did in 2001. But I think that possibility exists. There are remarkable and unsettling corollaries. I’m doing everything I can to provide for and protect my family in that situation too, through my self-reliance initiatives.

What I’m working towards is to allow my family to thrive in any of the top three economies below, and survive in the fourth:

1.       A good one.

2.       Deep recession.

3.       Depression.

4.       Monetary collapse.

I also want to help my extended family, friends and all those I’m meant to serve do the same.

As I said in the book (Free Full PDF) everything I foresaw came true, or dangerously close. I was able to protect my family because I faced the darkness and took action.

That’s all that brings me peace, doing everything I can.

I share this because I care about you and yours. We can create light for our families, no matter what, if we face the darkness head on and chose to take action.

If you haven't already done so, I invite you to download the Free Full PDF of Mid-Life Re-Creation: How to Escape Corporate or Unemployment Hell and Create Prosperity With Purpose, Passion and Honorable Profit. If you have questions, concerns or insights, please share them here by leaving a comment just below this post. I look forward to hearing from you.

In Light,

Steve

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Comments

  1. Steve
    I agree that more trouble is coming. We can focus on that and become paralyzed by fear. Or, we can do everything we can to be prepared and surround ourselves with people we trust to go through this together. Your work is a big part of throwing a life-line to people during this difficult time. Only some will grab it. Just continue to do what you are called to do and trust that your work will help the people who choose to listen.
    There is nothing more valuable than advice from someone who has already “been there” and survived!

  2. Steve has written a very thought-provoking blog post. It evokes how our lives travel down two paths simultaneously. There is the path of our private lives, loves, and sufferings–of Steve on his bike–and then there is the path we tread alongside every other person in society–that of being participants in the global economy. Disturbances in this second path can severely disrupt our ride through the first. One of the most frustrating results of our personal dependence on this huge, impersonal economy is the feeling of powerlessness it can create. Steve’s advice is about finding ways to overcome such powerlessness. I believe that we can also use democracy to exert our power, to try and steer that huge, impersonal economy in a a direction that will allow more of us to ride that private path in peace and security–or at least to try.

  3. I think may people are blissfully unaware as you where and need to wake up. It is imperative that you create as many passive diversified streams of income as possible. I hope our country doesn’t become a nightmare scenario but it is critical that everyone be prepared for it. If that day does not come you will have escaped the rat race in the meantime. The is a win-win way of thinking to be prepared for all economic possibilities. The manifesto is a great first step for anyone willing to ensure the well being of you and your family.

  4. Steve,
    If you can reach out and get more people to listen to what you’ve got to say, more people would certainly begin to feel safer…..safety in numbers….Not that misery loves company….Rather that “It’s lonely out there” and Steve offers good advice. Advice which supports the fact that people don’t have to give up. In the best of times, we all need someone to lean on, someone willing to help us out, to lend a hand. Like Steve, many of us have lived blissfully with our eyes wide shut until a cold reality rudely hits us in the head. Some of us never wake up because we’re afraid and haven’t a clue what to do and we just give up. And many of us don’t know where to look for the guidance we need and are quite able to ask for the help we need.
    Steve isn’t afraid to shake it up….to shake us up…..ALL OF US……and most of us sure could use some help.

  5. People need to read what your message – “WAKE UP”. The reader may agree with you or disagree with you, but they will benefit either way by elevating their awareness of what is going on around them. Every day, our elected officials prove how detached they are from most Americans. If they didn’t have “special” retirement programs and health insurance, they might relate more to our everyday challenges. That’s where the “Steves” of the world are so valuable. They don’t want us to perform revolutionary activities, just recognize what is happening to us. We say, I see what is going on.”, but seeing is not understanding. One of Steve’s ideas that could immediately benefit everyone is to change our traditional expectations. We can adapt to this new environment if we let go of traditional “American Dream”. Like Steve’s message, Mother Nature adapts and evolves to succeed in a changing world. Do you understand that is how the winners all around us are operating? Using Steve’s ideas can help us do it to.

  6. Steve, you are a very strong and provocative writer and I would trust you with my life. I know your book is just as you are: grounded, steely in its conviction, hopeful, strategic meaningful and *vital* to all of us, who do face a very uncertain future. I know you will stay committed to all of us because your integrity is flawless. Thank you for sharing this part of your story!

  7. Nicely done my friend and yes I was there with you see it all unfold. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It could be a Train or Opportunity! Stay focused on the goal and keep your eyes on the path that takes you there.

    Morgan

    • Stephen J. Healey says:

      Perfect Morgan: “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It could be a Train or Opportunity!”
      LOL, and we’d better be ready for either huh.

  8. Yes Stephen the world can go to hell in a hand basket. Most of what you talk about is out of my control certainly. What is in my control is discovering who I am, why am I here, what are my special skills and how do I use them to live my passions. This is not dependent on a company, although I may choose to work in one, it is dependent on my choice to lead my life, not let someone else lead it for me.

  9. Agree Tom, especially with this: “What is in my control is discovering who I am, why am I here, what are my special skills and how do I use them to live my passions.”

    Yet we need more, we also need to understand the financial landscape we find our selves thrust into and then adapt. That’s why a key component of my offering is the “New Money Map” here: http://www.sjhealey.com/uncategorized/creation-motion-part-5-money-map

    This isn’t Kansas any more is it!

  10. Hi Steve,

    From 2008 – 2010, while a Senior Consultant for outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison I had the opportunity to assist hundreds of people who had been “RIFed” from Eastman Kodak Company. As you mention in your personal experience, the thing that stood out for me the most was how difficult the experience was for the leaders who had to execute the RIF. In many cases, they were more upset than their staff. In one extreme case, a leader sat with me in the morning to help support his distraught employee and then came back to me at the end of the day for support with his personal RIF. Indeed, these are experiences we don’t soon forget, but they do serve a purpose in that they help to make us more compassionate human beings.

    • Stephen J. Healey says:

      I couldn’t agree more Jeff, it served that purpose for me without a doubt, it shook me to my bones, my American Dream was vaporized. It also instilled in me a driving desire to find a better way to work and live, thus the “New Money Map” post that follows this one. We cannot allow ourselves or our children to become victims of these economic implosions, the shifting from one age to another. We must develop foresight and the courage to act on it. Appreciate your feedback!

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  1. […] As goes the economy, so goes our lives, right? 2. Recreation in Motion, Part 3 (or Hey, I have OPTIONS!) 3. [Re-] Creation in Motion Part 5 “The […]

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