I am lucky to be part of a small group of homeowners called “lakers.” It’s reasonable to assume that a laker owns lakefront property, but simply owning lake property is not sufficient justification to be designated as a laker. This is a title you must earn, and during my third year on Cayuga Lake, I was provided the opportunity to earn my stripes.

In 1997, the lake level rose at least three feet and the rolling breakers quickly turned our dock into a battering ram. My wife and I waded in to grapple with the dock and return it to shore. We were in chest-deep water when Ann accidentally stepped off a concrete ledge, and her waders quickly filled with ice-cold water. The good news is that we were able to secure the dock and prevent any further damage. Oops, I forgot to mention that I pulled Ann out of the bone-chilling water, and she left a long trail of wet clothes across the road and up our front steps.

Since that experience, I take preventative measures each fall in anticipation of what can occur in April. I’m now recognized as a true “laker,” and the lessons I’ve learned helped me deal with many unexpected events throughout my life.

Are you prepared for an unexpected bump in your career? We can’t predict when the next “flood” or “power outage” will occur, but we do know it will happen again. I can’t predict the twists and turns your career will take, but there’s an extremely high probability something unexpected is going to happen. Take it from a laker, it’s better to be prepared.

1. Take a personal inventory of what you need to do now to enhance and expand your skills. Instead of living in fear that your skills will become obsolete, look at this as an opportunity to grow and look for jobs that are a better fit for your strengths.

2. Don’t assume your current employer will be around forever. Whoever imagined Macy’s, Sears, Penny’s and many other large retailers would be closing hundreds of stores in 2017? Pay attention and make sure your current employer is making the necessary changes to compete. Whether you work for a small employer or a larger institution, the same principles apply. Change is fast and furious, so keep an eye on what’s ahead and ensure you have the necessary skills to compete in tomorrow’s job market.

3. Continue to develop a network that can help you move forward. If you’re waiting for someone to knock on your door with a better job offer, you’re going to be disappointed. Take a minute right now and describe three people who can help you find a better and more stable career. If you have trouble identifying one or two people who are in a position to help you, then you’ve got some work to do.

4. Start planning for retirement 20 years in advance of your optimistic retirement date. My dad worked for the same employer for 37 years, and his pension was his one and only plan. He didn’t have a Plan B. Things have changed, and you can’t assume your pension will be enough. Not only do you need to save money to supplement your pension, but you also need to think about employment beyond the age of 65. This may not sound desirable, but it may become necessary if you haven’t saved a large enough nest egg for your retirement.

Procrastination isn’t an acceptable option when it comes to your future. Replacing my dock was a short-term inconvenience. Planning for your retirement is only possible if you plan for the unexpected. There is no point in dwelling on what you should have done. Look forward and think about what you can do to be prepared for what’s ahead.

Bill Kaminski is president of Stone Associates Training. He is an HR consultant with 35 years of experience in the employment field, teaching managers the art of hiring great employees. Bill is also an adjunct instructor at Keuka College. You can contact Bill with questions, suggestions or comments at www.bill@stoneassociatestraining.com.