By Fatmanur Erdogan, Hürriyet Daily News
“Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful,” says Warren Buffet, the world’s richest man.
We nod our heads in agreement, but it’s difficult to actually muster the courage to follow his advice. In our economic times, fear has replaced hope. Some people have lost their jobs, and the people who still have jobs are afraid of losing them. Many of us are frozen by fear, and we act as if keeping, or finding, any sort of employment is the only way to stay alive today.
Guess what? If you were feeling stuck in a rut before the crisis, then this is actually the perfect time to shake things up. In a bad economy, one of the best things you can do is invest your time in unconventional activities that will benefit you when the economy bounces back and job opportunities become abundant again.
If you have some savings, try going abroad to study. Have you been wanting to learn a language, or get further certification? When times were good, you probably didn’t want to miss them by going back to school. So do it now, when times are bad. Here’s a little-known fact: schools pay international education agencies a 15%-30% commission when you enroll. Instead of going through an agency, enroll directly at your school of choice, and ask the school to give you a discount. Today most businesses, including most schools, are struggling to survive, and they will be happy to have you even after the discount.
Investing in your education is one of the best career development moves you can make, anytime. If you’ve been laid off, you could sit at home, hoping to get a job at half your previous pay, or you could go out into the world and build your skills and experience. When the economy bounces back, which one do you think is going to benefit you more?
If you don’t want to go back to school, did you know you can go abroad for an almost unlimited amount of time, for nothing more than the price of a plane ticket? When you do volunteer work overseas, you learn the local language, you make new friends, and you learn new skills. However, your living costs are negligible, because many programs include a free homestay and free meals.
For example, organic farms around the world welcome people who are ready to work in return for free room and board. You can even find these opportunities posted on niche websites dedicated to connecting volunteers with organic farms. It is an incredible opportunity for anyone who would like to learn firsthand about the world of organics and environmental protection, and the experience will immerse you in foreign languages and cultures to boot.
Even if you are married with kids, you can still partake of this lifestyle, assuming your family is open-minded and willing. Not only will you expand your own horizons, you will also give your children a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the world and learn the value of service to others.
If you can’t study in London, or you can’t work on an organic farm in Brazil, there are still many things you can do right here at home. The point is to try something new, pick up a skill, and expand your horizons. If you don’t have a website, learn how to make one. If you like cars, learn how to fix them. If you like the sea, learn how to sail. If you like Chinese food, learn how to cook it. Whatever it is, use it to step out of your comfort zone. Perhaps you have no idea how your new skills will relate to your life in the future, just trust that they will. You will connect the dots later.
There’s an added benefit to this way of living. When pioneering becomes a regular part of your life, you’ll feel less stress about your job and economic security. Instead of reacting to uncertainty with fear, you’ll start to see the opportunities. You’ll find yourself thinking differently about the world.
Remember, especially these days, everyone else is doing the conventional. When the crisis is over they will all tell similar stories. Now is the time to make sure yours will stand out.