Designing a framework for safety net | by Dhananjay Garg | Nov, 2021

Four steps to setting up a backup plan in 2021–22

It’s almost two years since the pandemic started, and all of us felt the effects of it through various streams of life. I have personally seen so many people losing jobs or their primary sources of income during this time. One thing is for sure, most of us (including me) have realized how critically important it is to invest in ourselves regularly and always be prepared for the unexpected. As we are traveling in a highly volatile market, we need to design a backup plan or a safety net if things change unexpectedly for the worse.

As a product designer, I have encountered job market shifts, layoffs, company acquisitions, and the stumble of the economy while working from home during the pandemic. To cope with the situation, I found myself at the mercy of my resume by dusting it off with the latest and the greatest. Alternatively, the pandemic has also been a time to look into finances and save up for a rainy day (or months) ahead in time. Here are four things I have tried in the last two years that have paid off well during these unexpected times. These four steps have allowed me to avoid panic and prepare for the future while organizing ahead of time.

  1. Begin with a small investment goal and keep building it up when you feel comfortable.
  2. If you struggle with the discipline to put some money aside every month, then you can choose to set up an auto-debit from your savings account every week or 1st of every month.

Investing is a discipline. Uncertainty towards our future and fear of losing all of our savings frequently nudge us towards inaction. But time and time again, the markets show us by its upward sloping shape that we should remain invested in markets at levels of risk we are comfortable with rather than stay out and try to time our entry into markets.

  1. Humble side hustles can help us start something new on the side and make it big over time. So don’t ignore small side hustles.
  2. Invest in your hobby as a side hustle, plan for scaling it forward, launch, and enjoy a small stream of additional income.
  3. Not every side hustle needs to become a gigantic startup. Some can be small. Just a hundred people paying 100$ per month is enough to escape the rat race and replace your full-time income with that of your side hustles.
  4. Remember that the creator economy is the next big thing, and it can replace a lot of traditional jobs, education institutions, and income streams.

Be humble. It is tempting to say “I quit” and start something new that makes it big. However, making a product that fulfills people’s needs take time to develop and design. Not many companies can do it consistently. For creating your side hustles, harness the power of iterations, which over the long term gives steady returns, and rely on the powerful effects of iterative product development.

  1. Always look to upskill yourself and add that additional tool, certification, or soft skills to your work profile. It helps alleviate your work and brain mechanics and allows you to get 1% better each time.
  2. Additional certification even from Coursera can add an edge to your work which can later repay in various ways (unknown to you when taking the course).
  3. Do not wait for a new job to add that additional skill set to your toolbox or portfolio. Example — 3D modeling, After Effects, AR/VR, Spark, or Python certification.
  4. The internet has made education particularly cheap and easily accessible compared to how it was during our parents’ time.

Learning is a slow process. One way to be ahead of the market curve is to stick to regular miniature courses every month that can get us to our goals in a seemingly long time but are very flexible. Follow a disciplined process and take small steps towards learning necessary skills by breaking them down into modules and small weekend challenges. Trying to wait for the perfect opportunity to start learning something new is futile for even the best of us, and equally bad is also not to do anything.

  1. Investing in a network that looks forward to your shared wisdom is invaluable in today’s overflow content times.
  2. Building a network is a slow process and can take years to do so. But the results can be breathtaking.
  3. The easiest way to start is to start cultivating relationships on LinkedIn and, over time, get to know people in your industry.
  4. Three tentpoles of networking — Engage, comment, and grow your community of like-minded people.
  5. If the time comes, staying ahead of the game and committing to a strong network plan will save you a headache. ✳️

Networking is about your future. Networking allows you to secure a better opportunities-filled future. You can engage with your network by providing personalized advice, giveaway access to product insights that only you can see, and, lastly, lower the barrier to entry by allowing people to connect with you quickly.

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