The year 2020 has accelerated many changes in the workforce that were already on pace to realize massive rearrangements in how we work, why we work, and who we work for. With COVID19, the new reality has arrived within months.
Freelancing was already a large part of the economy and headed towards becoming an even greater share of the overall workplace but now we have some 36% of the workforce that are freelancers! The attached article details more about what that means for workers and for companies but the bigger picture for HSPs is that we need to begin to shift how we think about work, life, and our purposes because, otherwise, we will potentially find ourselves out of work and desperate within a short period of time.
There are some caveats that we should acknowledge. People who are in essential jobs will likely always have security. Those are jobs like healthcare and industry that require physical presence to accomplish the work such as caring for patients, producing products in factories or other workplaces, and many other hands-on jobs that cannot be carried out via the internet at a distance. This does not mean we should all flock to those types of positions because those fields still employ a certain type of person who is able and willing to put up with the negative aspects like noisy environments, demanding supervisors, often uncomfortable physical environments and many other non-negotiable demands of the field. Some HSPs might be fine with any of this, depending on how well they can ignore the negative parts, but others will not be well suited to the long-term grind of showing up to a job they absolutely hate every day for decades.
If you choose to go the freelancing route, and you may or may not have a choice depending on your skills, experience, and networking abilities, you will need to adapt to an entrepreneurial mindset where your skills are for sale and where you become a “brand.” People will seek you out as you gain a reputation and that may lead to more work but the stability and predictability of work will fluctuate at times.
Unpredictable income is an incredibly bad thing in an economy where bills are keyed to a regular and predictable income that does not vary. The costs of houses, cars, and so many other things are skyrocketing each year. For example, cars now regularly cost half as much as a home in many states in the US and lenders now finance them for seven years or more! Housing similarly increases each year along with insurances and costs of upkeep. How will you manage all of this with an unpredictable freelancer income?
The likely answer is you will have to reframe your values and what you attach worth to. Perhaps you do not need that new car and a used vehicle will work just as well. Maybe that home that costs several thousand a month in mortgage or rent is simply out of your league and you will need to be more realistic about what you can afford. In time, rents and mortgages may decline of necessity if enough people cannot afford to keep up, since there will be fewer and fewer people able to follow through on loan commitments.
Many of us will also be familiar with the concept of voluntary simplicity where we intentionally avoid debts and spending large portions of our monthly income on consumer goods we do not actually need. Many of us will have adapted to not living in areas where mortgage costs are incredibly high or the cost of living is exorbitant. The new reality of freelancing, the gig economy, and contract work frees us up to live wherever we wish but that may mean we are limited to what we can afford, which may not align with keeping up with the neighbors, if you are such a person.
My advice to you is to get ahead of this curve of ever-increasing numbers of freelancers, if you think this will affect you, and proactively begin to create a life that is financially and personally sustainable. This may mean massive upheavals in where you live, what you live in, or how you think about work but if it’s already coming you are simply waiting to be hit by it if you do not address it proactively.
Now, obviously, this all depends on your stage of life and what your needs are at any given point but in order to minimize anxiety and grief over a changing economy we need to get out in front of change and foresee how to adapt to changing economic circumstances before we are bowled over by them. If you are older, perhaps you are closer to retirement and have the pieces in place to live well enough in your golden years. Or perhaps you will continue to work at a reduced pace and supplement your earnings long-term. That can be a great strategy and we desperately need skilled older workers to bring their skills and experience to bear as much to get things done as to serve as mentors to the younger generations.
If you are that younger generation, the world seems incredibly uncertain, unwelcoming, and scary but the key will be to embrace change as a continuous force throughout your life. Stability is only an illusion we subscribe to anyway. Embracing the reality of continuous change will position you to be an innovator who stays on the cusp of the new and novel. You will want to avoid the debt traps and learn to live a happy and full life without massive monthly debt but, very frankly, you will be far happier living more simply, closer to nature, and closer to your fellow humans. You will learn to network like a beast and nurture those connections because you truly never know which one will surface an opportunity that will lead you to something good. It is a two way street and you will need to do the same for your network.
If you are in the vast middle of life, you are faced with the twin dilemma of changing a life you already have and probably like versus an ugly new reality of uncertainty and stress. My observations is if you have made it to mid-life you have probably seem some “stuff” in life already and are far more resilient than you know. No one makes it through life without encountering crisis’, tragedy, and dark days. You will reinvent as necessary and you likely know what is truly important to you and what it takes to be sustainable personally and professionally.
Change is here, my dear HSPs, and we need to kick into action with plans that will live up to our deep thinking, observant, and open natures. If it scares you, that’s alright, it scares everyone so you are not alone but there is hope and it is possible to very successfully cobble together several income streams that will even out your monthly income flow.
What has been your experience with the economy? Have you become a freelancer not by your own choice? How have you dealt with it?
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