Everyone has an opinion on surviving a recession. You remember all those terrible news spots and articles in 2008:
- “Everyone should own a liquor store, downturns never affect them!”
- “You should work in healthcare. Even broke people get sick!”
- “Just start a dropshipping company and sell fake purses. It always works!”
And underlying all that advice is one thing:
Happiness in your career and life is irrelevant, just so long as you feel a little safer financially.
If that’s how you feel about your life, then there’s no reason for you to read ahead. Happily stagnate forever. If you want to live a life where you are constantly moving forward, where you are always bettering yourself and moving towards what you truly want, then read on.
Being mission-focused is the surest way to ensure a recession doesn’t end you. It makes you harder to fire, it makes it easier for you to adapt to changing circumstances, and it aligns your goals in such a way that even a financial meltdown can’t derail you.
No One Fires Their Top Performer
Being mission-focused means setting one big goal for yourself—your mission—and only focusing on the step right in front of you.
If you live that way, then you’ve chosen your job because you know how it fits into your grandest vision for your life, perhaps as a stepping stone, or to develop skills and experience.
And, the surest way to make that so is to deliver top performance. Not because you’re competitive with your colleagues, but because your entire life is focused on crushing this step to keep moving forward.
Living this way not only gives you an edge, but it makes you an unstoppable force of nature.
Every round of layoffs that I have experienced (and there have been far too many), the same thing has always been true. Whether it was after the Internet bubble burst in 2000 or when the credit bubble burst in 2008, far too many good people lost their jobs.
But the best people never do.
In fact, often the top people have left before then anyways.
Why “Mission-Focused” Means Adapting To Any Market
If my greatest goal in life was to make more money, I would never have left Goldman Sachs. I would have put my head down and kept climbing the ladder.
And who knows what would have happened to me in 2008.
Instead, 18 months before the crash, I quit my job as a VP at Goldman Sachs and set about doing what I truly wanted. I traveled the world, trained MMA, made new friends, read an insane amount, and found myself ultimately unfulfilled.
I was missing something, and I couldn’t quite work out what it was.
Having determined that “escaping” my job was no better answer, I resolved to, once and for all, figure out what success looked like for me.
The first step was to return to the place where I knew success best: Wall Street.
I wasn’t going to go back to investment banking, however. This time I was headed to greener pastures, the so-called buy-side. Looking at the obvious credit bubble, I focused my efforts on only one specific job and two potential employers and ultimately joined the Carlyle Group as a distressed debt investor.
When the rest of Wall Street was in financial ruin, selling assets at fire sale prices, we were buying. Other than those like John Paulson and Michael Burry who famously “shorted” the market, there was no better place to be.
But more importantly, I wasn’t there because it was the “right” place to be, or because it was my absolute destination. It was the next logical step in my mission, creating my most amazing career and life.
When Your Mission Isn’t Monetary, The Market Can’t Hurt You
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, downturns will happen. And, even worse, like the newspaper and auto industries, jobs will keep disappearing permanently.
But if your priority isn’t the money, you have a vision for what you want in life, and you’re actively working towards it, then it matters far less. You only care about the step right in front of you.
Maybe you’re trying to acquire new skills, or trying to build relationships in a new industry. Neither of these things require you to have the highest paying job in the world.
Of course, you have to eat. If you have a family, you have to provide for them. But your path to growth is a personal one, defined and pursued by you alone.
Your company doesn’t dictate what path you’re on, your vision of success does. If you stay focused on that vision, a recession will never derail you.