09/19/2012 11:18 am ET Updated Nov 19, 2012

The Truth About Jobs: 10 Tips to Help You Think Differently About Employment and Life

I can't help but be struck by the changing reality of jobs in this new economy. How it's really not about jobs anymore, but about letting go of obsolete ideas about jobs that no longer serve us.

The reality is as clear as it is stark: it's a dangerous gamble to build your life around the notion that you will always have your current job. You don't have to be hired; they don't have to keep you employed; and you can get fired at any time for any reason having nothing to do with you or the quality of your performance.

While this may have always been the case, something feels irreversibly different about jobs in this new economy - not just about their availability, but about how we structure our lives around jobs that may or may not be there. The days of working with one company for 25-30 years and retiring with a pension and health insurance, covering you until death, no longer exist and aren't coming back.
The degree to which we recognize this new reality, and prepare our lives accordingly, will determine how we survive through the new economy.

It's not about living to work anymore; it's about working in ways that allow you to live. It's not about the job that can be history tomorrow; it's about designing your life to sustain your living no matter the unexpected job changes that will come. We need to think about our lives beyond jobs; to design our lives in ways that will allow us to sustain our living through whatever changes are sure to come in a lifetime of work in the new economy. 'We' just may be the missing piece to the jobs puzzle.

As one who has survived two layoffs, and is currently thriving through a third, my relationship to jobs, work and life has changed dramatically.

These are some of the ways I have designed my life to give me the freedom to thrive despite the changes.

  1. Live below your means. My mortgage is732/month. I don't have cable, universal landline service or any credit card debt (all of which was the case before my first layoff). You do the math.
  2. SAVE! Somewhere in the world rain is in the forecast - your rainy day is coming, so be prepared! A savings account is the new mattress - put your money in it!
  3. Debt, outstanding credit card balances, cable TV, are all choices; they are not facts of life.
  4. Develop a skill, a life work, and independent of any job and that others will pay you for, regardless of you having a job (and there's nothing wrong with working a job while you develop that life work).
  5. Strive for some form of entrepreneurship. Create and own something that no one can take away from you. Yeah, it sucks to get laid off; but they can't fire me from being Judy M. Ford, CPCC, Founder & Principal Coach of Sunrise Consulting, LLC!
  6. Have the courage to let go of old notions about work. Build a life of multiple careers with multiple retirements along the way.
  7. When they say 'at-will' it's not your will they are talking about! Engage in work that is not limited to institutional jobs and create a life that is not beholden to them.
  8. The stability of your life should not be determined by the stability of any one job (see #2)
  9. The number one rule of jobs in the new economy: there are no rules! Create and adhere to your own rules about jobs, work and life that best serve you.
  10. Jobs are a part of life; they are not the whole of life. Put effort into building your whole life so that if ever one part of it is challenged, your entire life does not have to fall apart, stop or even slow down (read again... tips 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

What are some of the ways you are designing your life differently to thrive through the new economy?

Judy M. Ford for (BBN)