Speeches don’t cut spending. Growing government spending and entitlement handouts will never create a vibrant economy. Get ready for a long road to economic recovery. Thankfully, America was built on individual responsibility. Don’t just wait for Washington to act or for the next election. Take responsibility for your future starting today.
It’s a lot easier to remain optimistic when you keep turning your gifts into recyclable assets that someone will pay for. In today’s job market, you don’t want to be good at something that’s no longer needed. Learn the right skills to help invent the future.
The time of lifelong employment is over. Staying marketable requires lifelong learning. Education has morphed from a K through 12 to K through life. Not sure what to do—take heart! Half of what you could be doing hasn’t even been invented yet.
In his classic book Future Shock, Alvin Toffler asserted, “The illiterate of the future are not those who cannot read or write. They are those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” You have to let go of what you’re good at to learn new skills in areas where you have no idea what you’re even doing.
If you’re already in the “obsolete” category, get busy developing your own recovery program before you’re forced to do so under even less desirable circumstances. As my great uncle used to say, “If the horse is dead, get off it!” Stop sending resumes around for skills that are not longer needed. He added this advice: “It’s easiest to ride a horse in the direction it’s going.” That’s a seminar in a sentence—if you master skills that let you ride future trends, you have nothing to fear from the future.
President Obama said, “In the 21st Century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education.” That also applies to adults, but where do adults go to get the education they need to refocus and retool? In tough times, they search for affordable training through adult education and community college programs.
If you don’t know where to begin, trade an hour-a-day of television for an hour-a-day of online learning. Dan Colman, who directs Stanford University’s continuing studies program, founded Open Culture, a website that tracks free educational and cultural media on the Web. Salman Khan’s Khan Academy is another engaging gateway into online learning dedicated to providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere. These sites may not be a replacement for a certified adult programs or a college education, but online learning will give you a chance to rekindle your love of learning, find what areas of study match your gifts and passion, and get one step ahead of those who are resting on outdated skills. Even better, it will allow you to stay one step ahead of your own children.
After all, America doesn’t just need new companies ready to hire; organizations need people with the skills to match the challenge. When the economy rebounds, are you ready to add value?
At a time the need is greatest, funding for adult education is under attack. For example, in the Conejo Valley Unified School District in CA, the $2.1 million that the Conejo Valley Adult School receives from the state may be taken to cushion the district’s K-12 budget crisis. Instead of balancing the budget cuts, administrators are risking the collapse of adult education at a time affordable adult education is needed most.
If we don’t have productive adults in jobs that have a future, America and California will continue to decline. Governments must cut spending, but instead of funding more entitlements never-ending welfare support, let’s invest in keeping adult education inexpensive.
No matter what resources are available, never forget that personal responsibility is a core American value. W.K. Hope provided some valuable advice: “Self-discipline is when your conscience tells you to do something, and you don’t talk back.” If you’re out of work, stop waiting for some government “stimulus package” and get busy today updating your skills so you can create your own recovery program.