16 February 2010, by A. Cedilla
So many things have been written about how the financial crisis has brought the people’s faith in the government (not to mention big industries and banks) to new lows that we won’t even be coming near that any more.
There’s too much information on how things went wrong, and not enough on how to start making things right, even if just on a personal level. Instead, let’s focus on what security we can build for ourselves now.
This article was inspired partly by a post regarding Social Security on GenXFinance, explaining just what Gen-Xer’s (the people born between 1965-1980) can expect from it, and how they can and should prepare for their futures themselves.
The advice was to keep planning as if Social Security won’t be enough to fully support you in your retirement, which is an unsettling realization. And quite possible.
No one expected the current meltdown to hurt to this extent, or how it impacted everyone: people who thought their jobs, homes and families would be safe, believing the government and big companies would be able to take care of them, trusting that the system was stable. Now everyone’s had a taste of bitter medicine: Guarantees are only as strong as the institution backing them up.
So, how do you build your own version of “Social Security”?
It’s an issue of identifying your internal and external support structures, and then strengthening them.
Internal support structures involve discipline, clarity, intention, desire and will-power, just to start. It’s the skills and experience in your head, and what the Latin saying Omnia mea mecum porto is all about. (That’s fancy for, “All that I have I carry with me.”)
If you don’t know where you want to go with your life, you’ll be living by other people’s agendas, no matter how well-meaning these people are. If you have an idea but can’t seem to make the effort of going for it, you may not want it that much, or muster the focus to do so. It’s all connected. And it’s inside you; therefore, in your control.
What about the other ‘institutions’ in your life? Your family, your friends, the relationships in your life, your career-web, your skills portfolio-slash-collection — these are all included in external support structures.
The time and energy you spend in nurturing these relationships not only helps you on a purely personal level but multiples the strength of the structure as a whole. The old adage that starts with “United we stand…” applies here.
Now, you might think that there’s a dissonance here, what with explaining external structures and then the advice on pushing away from relying on an outside institution to take care of your needs, but think about it. The external structures here are ones you are personally involved in. The institutions are legal bodies with no unique interest in your personal welfare. Which one will respond fastest if you have a problem?
A few more things to add to the system are your buffers (emphasized in this article on Webworkerdaily). Buffers offer breathing space for you to decompress, and gives you enough time — should you need it– to figure out how to go deal with the next item on your agenda. Buffers are essentially supportive empty space— they let something new in, or give you enough room to move out of harm’s way.
We need structure – – a place and a plan for everything, a rhythm to our days. The human brain needs stability for a sense of continuance and safety as much as it needs change for stimulation and growth. Just like in grade-school science, if an ecosystem — the lives in a particular place, the flow and interconnection of those lives– runs smoothly, then it’s a healthy one.
How do you run your household, your business, your relationships, your finances? Whether you build one or it evolves naturally over time, a system in place can provide support when unexpected events come in and impact your life. Systematically taking care of your savings, your health, your skill-set portfolio, your relationships, can and will benefit you immeasurably. When you take care of what matters, that care will come back to you. And you don’t need any institution to guarantee you that.