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The Big Picture
Rebecca "Becky" Coates Nee, a veteran TV news anchor/reporter, is a professional life/career coach. Check out her website at to take the coachability test, subscribe to her free "Beyond the Box" newsletter and to find out if you're an adrenaline junkie.

Surviving Your Career in Tough Times
Managing your career despite layoffs and anthrax fears

By Rebecca Coates Nee
October 29th, 2001

A few months ago, the Big Picture was all about exploring your options, venturing out of your box and broadening your horizons. Now, as layoffs abound, the Big Picture means just being glad for what youíve got. The scare running through newsrooms these days isnít just what may be in the mail. Itís the uncertainty of whether your news director will still love you tomorrow.

As hundreds of broadcasters and other veteran employees across the board are being dumped onto the streets weekly, itís time for a little refocusing on what you do have. That way, you can be in charge of your own exit strategy, rather than letting your employer plan it for you.

If you have managed to keep your job but youíve been thinking of dipping into a new profession, you may want to wait until the economy evens out. Leaving for another job now places you dangerously low on the seniority list in your new company, making you even more vulnerable to layoffs there. But how can you hang on if youíre miserable?

Here are some strategies for taking control of your professional life while you ride out these shaky times:
What can you do to make your current situation more secure and saner?
Can you readjust your attitude and expectations?
How much of your misery is self induced and how much of it is external? Change the things you can and try to accept those that you canít.

Anxiety happens when we try to control the uncontrollable. Read Don Miguel Ruizís book, "The Four Agreements." Pay particular attention to this agreement: Take Nothing Personally. As Ruiz points out, if you learn not to take things personally, you can survive the middle of hell. Itís kind of like being in the eye of the hurricane.

The crazy people screaming in the storm around you are usually accomplishing less than the sane, calm people in the center. Theyíre just making a lot more noise. If time off isnít an option, build mini-breaks into your day.

Take a walk, phone a friend, stare at your computer. Spending just five minutes thinking and doing nothing really can help you put things back in perspective.

Start an aggressive savings plan. Decide what you really need to live on and how much you can put aside in a safe investment. You should be banking at least 10-15% of your paycheck, more if your future is uncertain. And shred those credit cards. Now is not the time to get into debt. Devise Plan B.

What would you do if your job ended tomorrow? What have you always wanted to do? What would it take to get there? Who could help you? Start making contacts now with people who are doing what you think youíd like to do. Ask them questions about how they got started. People love talking about what they do ó you donít have to tell them theyíre part of your Plan B.

If, on the other hand, your job has already been laid to rest, make a thorough assessment of your situation before you start dubbing tapes and running to Kinkoís with your resume. Did you have a role in the layoff? What did you learn? What could you have done differently? Be honest with yourself Ė is this really the right career for you?

Many broadcasters program their auto pilot right back into TV news after being laid off, not out of true desire, but to prove they can. Thatís understandable but pointless. If your gut tells you itís time to leave the industry, taking another news job somewhere else means youíre wasting valuable time that you could have spent cultivating a new career. Sure, you may have to start at the bottom in a different field, but at least youíve started. And in these times, getting started sure beats the alternative of inertia.