"It’s not enough to think about the future—you have to build it."|
Alexander Van Boetzelaer, Evp Of Strategy, Elsevier
It’s not always possible to foresee economic challenges. Even those who are skilled in predicting shifts in the market make mistakes. But preparing for what might happen and being ready to make decisions when you need to are skills that can help you succeed no matter the challenge. Don’t fear change; expect it, plan for it, and embrace it.
One way to prepare is to become a good researcher. By finding reliable and relevant sources, you can be sure you’re acting on good information and making the best decisions possible. Think broadly about what might constitute helpful sources—anything from news articles and academic research to interviews with experts to surveys and data.
Most historians and economists acknowledge that future economic downturns will happen, though no one can be sure exactly when they’ll take place or how serious they’ll be. But history teaches us that we can survive such challenges—and even thrive, as individuals and businesses innovate in the face of new circumstances and the government seeks large-scale solutions.
Now let’s look at some other lessons from the past.
Your agility skill has been a major focus this week as we’ve read about people adapting to changing economic circumstances. Americans in the Great Depression often had to alter their lives in dramatic ways, such as by moving to new locations in search of work. The government also showed agility by addressing the crisis with large-scale social and economic programs. During the Energy Crisis, Americans changed their transportation habits; after the dot-com bubble, many learned new skills or embarked on new careers.
We’ve also seen several examples of how necessary problem solving skills have been during times of economic change. In the Great Depression, people like Douglas Fraser and his family made do with free day-old bread and vegetables grown in backyard gardens. They took what supplies they had and found ways to work with them to survive. The New Deal involved problem solving on a large scale: the Roosevelt administration, faced with a large unemployed population, put people to work on projects that would help different parts of the country. During the Energy Crisis, we saw problem solving in the strategies people used to lower energy use.
The economy is influenced by many factors, including business trends, government regulation, and things like weather or disease. It’s a complicated system that has the capacity to affect almost everyone. Even though individuals cannot control the economy, we can see throughout history how people have relied on agility and problem solving to survive periods of economic challenge. Because economic cycles are a fact of life, it’s important to live with a mindset of being prepared and ready to adapt.
Here are some examples of ways to apply agility in times of economic challenge:
Source: Strategic Education, Inc. 2020. Learn from the Past, Prepare for the Future.
Glassdoor. (2019, September 22). 11 Recession-Proof Jobs. www.glassdoor.com/blog/11-recession-proof-jobs