Careers Can Prosper in a Down Economy

These days, a lot of news stories about the economy and job market are filled with doom and gloom. But there are people who do well in their careers and launch successful businesses in a down economy.

In fact, GE, Hewlett-Packard and Burger King all started in a down economy.

General Electric Co. was established in 1876 by famed American inventor Thomas Edison. In the middle of the Panic of 1873, a six-year recession, Edison created one of the best-known inventions of all time – the incandescent light bulb. In terms of market capitalization, GE is now the third largest company in the world. GE has evolved from a strong manufacturing business to an enterprise earning more than 50 percent of its revenue from its financial services division.

Hewlett-Packard Development Co. was inauspiciously born in a Palo Alto garage at the end of the Great Depression. The electronic company, initially supported by a mere $538 investment, has grown into the first technology business to exceed $100 billion in revenue, earning $104 billion in 2007. It now operates in nearly every country in the world.

Burger King Corp. began in 1954 when James McLamore and David Edgerton opened a Burger King restaurant in Miami, Fla. During another recession in 1957, the company introduced its successful signature burger – the Whopper. Today, the company operates more than 11,100 locations in 65 countries.

In times of economic uncertainty, it can be difficult for people in unfulfilling careers to find the courage to change their lives and switch fields. However, a lot of people out there would be happier if they took a chance.

Thirty-three percent of Americans hate their jobs, 87 percent dislike their jobs and 67 percent labor in the wrong career field, according to the book “Caught Between a Dream and a Job.” And 25 percent of employees view their jobs as their No. 1 stressor in life, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s “Stress … At Work” publication.

What’s the difference between people who are optimistic and moving forward and those who are just getting by? I believe that much of it has to do with how you view the glass – half full or half empty.

George Sheehan, an author, track star and cardiologist, once said, “Success means having the courage, the determination and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.”

People with a positive outlook and a life plan don’t get off the track when things change – they just change tracks.

As a life and career coach, I spend a great deal of time helping clients realize their dreams and take the steps to reach their goals. Particularly in this economy, it’s important to engage in some re-evaluation of your goals, course correction and daily planning for success. Use the following process to take your life to the next level:

• Take some time to think about your big picture vision for your life, career and family. Describe in writing your personal or professional vision in the first person as if it is happening right at this very moment. For instance, you may write something like: “I am on the way to work at my clothing store called The Finer Things. I actually love going to work now because it doesn’t feel like a job.” Continue to write about why you enjoy running your own clothing business, including purchasing the clothes, developing client relationships and etc. This helps you get in touch with what you enjoy doing, not just what you’ve ended up doing. If it’s a new career that you’d like to pursue, use this same big picture vision to write about the position and visualize what it would feel like to be doing that work.

• Next, start a list of the big steps – or mile steps as I call them – that would be needed to reach your goal. For instance, when starting a new business you may need to research the industry, develop a business plan or get some training. For a new career, your mile steps may be taking classes, researching potential companies, developing a new resume or joining a network organization for that industry. Mile steps are the big milestones that will get you closer to your big picture vision.

• From there, break the process down further into daily action steps, which I call mini feats. Mini feats are the smaller steps you take each day that move you step-by-step to your big picture vision. They are given a scheduled time so you will complete them just like any other important thing that should get done each day. Each mini feat needs to be a minimum of five minutes in length. A mini feat might be to complete an application, schedule an appointment or do some research on the Internet. These small daily activities keep you motivated and on track toward your goals.

• Surround yourself with inspiring and motivating people. You may find your usual crew begins to thin out as you take on a new life direction. Seek out those people who are supportive of your goals and join groups or seek counseling to keep you motivated and accountable.

• Be easy on yourself. Change and transformation can bring up all sorts of good, bad and ugly stuff. When you feel yourself struggling, take a break. When you have small successes, give yourself kudos for all of your hard work and continue to move on to your big picture vision.

• Start now. You don’t want to look back in 10 years and realize you’re still at the same place in your life. Even if you love your life now, growth is a necessary part of your evolvement on this planet. Every single day of your life is precious. Embrace it, and those you love, to the fullest.

“Being laid off was one of the best things to happen in my life. By following this program, I got a clear picture of my life goals and was able to focus on my strengths, beliefs and desires,” said Prerna Ohara, president of San Diego-based Your Company Concierge. “Since starting last year, I have already launched my new business and elevated my personal life to the next level. I know now that there is no limit to what I can achieve for myself.”

Allison Maslan is the founder and president of Blast Off! Life and Business Coaching (, a highly acclaimed author, an international motivational speaker, the inventor and developer of Blastation, an interactive life coaching software program, and the president of the Homeopathic Wellness Center. In her new book, “Blast Off! The Surefire Success Plan To Launch Your Dreams Into Reality,” Maslan gives tips for tapping into your passions and finding a fulfilling career.