CNBC has an interesting feature on rethinking the work you do, balancing the possible benefits of change with practicalities.

One of the main concepts articulated by Peter Drucker to me in an interview in 2005 is that by maintaining diverse activities, interests and personal relationships, you have a cushion when life deals you a setback. As I was completing my book, that’s just what happened to me, when I was laid off by USA TODAY in December, after working there for 21 years. Had I not been working on the book, and preparing for its publication this coming August, the setback could have been a lot worse.

Many more of us will be in a similar position in the next couple of years, and job-hunting and resume writing is only part of what’s going to be needed to maintain a sense of self, purpose, mission and goals. Whether or not a new, desirable job is around the corner, some activities may help people in these situations. Among them are personal reinvention, volunteering, tutoring, looking into becoming a social entrepreneur (or working with existing social entrepreneurs) and sharing your talents (such as a lawyer doing pro bono work). One of the things underpinning this is the ability and willingness to engage in regular, honest self-reflection.

Many religious institutions need volunteers, especially in teaching, and you don’t have to be an experienced teacher to qualify. Another area in the book discusses parallel careers, which in my case, for the past 13 years, has been teaching. It’s been another lifesaver for me. What can you offer to the world, whether or not you have a fulltime job? Can you help other people who are in the same situation? One of the things I learned from Drucker is that you should focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t do. This is important as we try to maintain a sense of self-respect, self-esteem and personal/professional identity. And it’s not easy; I still tend to refer to USA TODAY in conversation as “We…” Not many people have 100% job security. What may be required of all of us is to rethink our lives to reimagine what is possible, inside and outside of the work world. How many worlds are you living in, and how many more could you enter?

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