Maybe the only thing that’s predictable in this life that we lead is that life isn’t always predictable (now there’s an understatement).  Just when we think we’ve gotten things figured out, life throws us a curve, perhaps to remind us that we aren’t the ones in control.  I’m sure you can all relate.

When our son Steven was born 9 1/2 years ago, the doctors found that he had a collapsed lung and a “spot” on his lung.  He was in the Transitional Nursery for ten days, which meant that we could not hold him at all for the first few days.  You feel helpless because you want so much to hold your baby and “make everything all right.”  Fortunately, his problems were fairly minor compared to almost all of the other babies in that nursery.  After ten days he was healed up and we were bringing him home.

I had taken some time off from my job so that I could spend more time taking care of the other children and to also spend time at the hospital with Diane and Steven.  It was on a Wednesday that I went back in to work, trying to catch up on as many assignments as I could that first day.  Around 1:00 in the afternoon, I received a phone call from Human Resources asking me to come up to their office.  Clearly this is never a good thing.  Sure enough, I was informed that my position was being terminated and I was thanked for all of my hard work.  At the time, I had an “unclassified” position with the State of New Jersey, which meant that I served at the pleasure of the Commissioner and/or Governor.  I was placed in the unclassified position in an attempt to get around the red tape involved in getting a job with the State (it had been three months, and they didn’t want to wait any longer to have me start).  Unfortunately for me, this was shortly after New Jersey voters, for some inexplicable and inexcusable reason, voted Jim McGreevey in as Governor.  Well, to the victor go the spoils, and everyone in my title that was unclassified was terminated (their word) so they could free up positions as rewards for their political “friends.”

So there I was, out of work with five children, one of whom had just spent his first ten days in the hospital, wondering what I would do next.  The story does have a happy ending, though, because two weeks later I was once again gainfully employed.

You see, I was painfully reminded at that time that life is not always predictable.  I was laid off twice in a nine month span, and things clearly weren’t going according to my plans.  Things could have been different for me, for us, had I done just a few things differently.  I was following the “go to school, get a good secure job and stay there until retirement” approach to life.  But what happens when the economy changes, or the politics change?  This formula did not address such issues.  I was letting someone else determine what I did every day, depending upon them to provide the money needed for my family.  While I do believe that at that time of my life, the best thing for me was to have a job, I should have been thinking outside of the box.  I should have been not only thinking about making sure my income stream was secure and not dependent upon an employer, but I should have been taking action as well.  Had I developed a business, in my spare time, while I was working my full time job, I would have been more prepared financially to deal with job loss.  In fact, I could have positioned myself to walk away from a job and spend more time with my family, instead of worrying about how many vacation days or sick days I was taking while my newborn lay in the hospital.  My journey toward financial independence could have, and should have, started years earlier, but I was not exposed to that kind of mindset that says you need to take control of your future.

Even though life is unpredictable, everyone should plan their immediate and long term future.  If you are relying on wages to get you where you want to be in 3, 5, 10 or 20 years, you just may be in for a rude awakening.  Develop a Plan B.  Who knows, your Plan B, could very well become your plan A and change your life.  Life may be unpredictable at times, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t attack it head on and strive for a better future for our families.