Sun 19 Jun 2005
Working Without a Safety Net
Category : Commentary/safetynet.txt
Or is it, working without chains? We visited this cute little place called The Animal Resort somewhere in the north of Singapore, not too far from our home. The great thing about this life we've slipped into is that we can take time off whenever we want, and go wherever we want, without any guilt.
Living without a safety net, I've learnt that I need to watch my health like a hawk. Any mishap in the form of a debilitating illness will throw even our most carefully wrought plans into disarray.
I'm a borderline diabetic, having inherited this condition from my father and his parents before him. (My father had Alzheimer's - will I have it, too?) I've been watching my diet. Working from home, I get to eat good healthy food, bland though it may be. To think that I live barely 200 metres from a gastronomic paradise. But food I can resist. I've lost half of the ten kilograms that I'm supposed to lose.
And I'll get the other half gone if I can make myself go running every day. If I go 200 metres in the opposite direction, I hit a trail into the Nature Reserve bounding MacRitchie Reservoir. I did a run the other Friday morning at about ten and passed quite a few people who looked like they didn't have to go to work. They looked pretty happy to me.
I was looking at the latest issue of Fortune over the weekend - about people in their forties or fifties who've lost their jobs and not likely to find another one soon. I read about a guy who's been told by a recruiter that "he's got a lot of maturity".
This is a terrible time, if you're not prepared. I think the forties is both the worst and yet the most likely time a person would lose a job. My cousin at Sun tells me that every time he survives a cut and moves up the hierarchy, there are seven less people around him who've been culled. Eventually, it'll be his turn.
It's been eleven years now since I've had to learn to work without a safety net. It's not that I'm totally comfortable all the time. But I've at least made peace with the idea and learnt not to panic. There are levers and gears you can use to keep yourself afloat. And I've come to realise that the only person who can guarantee yourself a safety net, after all, is ... yourself.