If the company you work for were to experience a disaster, would you be prepared to handle the potential effect on your job and career? As I write this, I’m seeing reports about the terrible wildfire in northern California, including loss of life, homes, businesses, and animals. In such situations, it’s hard for us to fully understand what such a huge tragedy feels like , but we can at least make a good stab at imagining it and–if it’s within our power–do something concrete to help.
One problem is that you can’t fully anticipate and prepare for many of the major disasters that could devastate your personal and professional life. Often, you can only take limited precautions to prepare for the possibility, and you certainly can’t prevent it.
If, for example, your company location were wiped out by a fire, earthquake, tornado, or other natural disaster (not to mention man-made ones), you wouldn’t be in a position to stop that. If the disaster also destroyed the home you live in, you’d have a double-barreled disaster staring you in the face.
I’m not talking about a mistake such as making a poor judgment call at work and putting your career success at risk. That’s a potential disaster, but not one you’d expect to be life-threatening or totally out of your control.
What I’m referring to is an actual physical disaster that hits when and where you least expect it. I think most of us don’t give much thought to that possibility or we somehow think it can’t happen to us. For instance, I’m naturally an optimist, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to decide I shouldn’t take basic precautions to protect my family, my home, and the business that supports us. So I carry insurance, as you probably also do.
However, insurance doesn’t take care of all the potential problems, so even if you have it, don’t think everything is under control!
What can you do to prepare for and recover from a disaster that jeopardizes your current job and future career success?
Practically speaking, there’s only so much you can do. One obvious step is to manage your finances as wisely as possible, so you have at least some cushion against income loss if your employer gets shut down by a disaster and takes your job with it.
That includes having an active process for putting money aside in an emergency fund and not letting yourself view it as a “take money out whenever I want it” honey-pot! For example, if you get a raise at work, try designating a portion of the increase for your emergency fund.
What else can you do? Here are just a few ideas:
Basically, your disaster preparation and recovery plan needs to take a practical approach that covers the foreseeable contingencies and tries to counteract them with positive actions, even though you hope you won’t ever need to use it.