Okay, okay I finally have to admit it—the economy is kind of crappy right now. And it's scary (not that the media isn't fanning those flames just a bit). People are afraid they might lose their jobs, entrepreneurs are afraid they might lose their businesses, people are afraid they might lose their homes. So what to do?
1.) Tattoo the serenity prayer in a prominent place on your body. Refer to it often. Remind yourself that there's a lot you can't control and let it go. But there are some things you can control. Those are the things to work with. Example—I can't control if any particular prospect will buy from me. But I can try to do my best with every prospect. I can't control prices, but I can control my spending. Why lay awake at night worrying about the stock market? We can't do a damn thing about it. Take a deep breath, say "Serenity now" and let it go.
2.) Go back to basics. I think back to what worked for my business in the past— attending networking events (something I didn't have time to do when I was busy), personal notes, this newsletter, the basics. What works best for keeping you job? The basics—showing up on time, having a great attitude, dressing nicely. What about your finances? The basics—spend less than you earn, save some money for a rainy day, etc. I think we got away from the basics when times were fat and happy.
3.) Review your risks. I paid off my mortgage this year rather than taking a cool vacation. I'm usually not so risk averse, but this move makes me feel very secure. And ironically I feel like I can take bigger risks! I let go of 35% of my clients right before the bottom fell out of the economy. The fees they paid me were significantly lower than my other client, but still—35%! It was scary, but it was the best decision I've made. I work less, earn more money, and do better quality work (because I'm not rushing and exhausted). Don't let this time stop you from taking risks—just take the right ones.
4.) Review how lucky you are. I don't care what your situation is right now, you have something to be grateful for. I'm grateful you are taking your precious, precious time to read this. I'm grateful for all the people who have had enough faith in me to work with me over the years, I'm grateful to all the people who have been in my audiences and didn't boo (or throw things). This time should make you more grateful for the customers you do have, the employer who gives you a job, the employees who understand when you ask them to give a little bit more, and the fact that the Russians haven't invaded any place (lately).
5.) Lower your expectations. I am not advocating giving up—far from it. But maybe you can't pay for that Ivy League education after all. Maybe little Timmy will have to go to State. Maybe you won't get the $5,000 bonus this year, because sales are off. It's okay. All you can do is your best. You are hardest on yourself—ease up.
6.) Review what's really important to you. I think this is a good idea no matter what the economy is doing. A lot of times we don't realize what this is until we lose it. How important is your family? Your health? I do adore my work, but before I let some of my clients go, it was my entire life and I was exhausted. Now I have a fun blog, a new hobby, and time to sleep and work out. Maybe this is a good time to change how you think about success. Is it how much money you make or how happy you are?
7.) I've said it before and I will say it again (mostly because I need to hear it) stop comparing yourself to others. You really don't know what you're comparing yourself to anyway. I used to always feel bad about being single. But the more marriages I see, the better I feel!! At the end of the day, all that matters is how happy you are in YOUR life. Isn't that what we all want—to be happy? And as Abraham Lincoln wisely said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." What to be unhappy? Compare yourself to other people.
8.) Remind yourself that you can come back from anything. If you're an entrepreneur, you built your business from nothing. You did it before, if you have to, you can do it again. If you're an employee, there was a time when you were unemployed. If you found your current job, you can find another. Don't think of something as an ending, think of it as a new beginning. Think that's all motivational BS? Fine, go ahead and think of it as the end. Is that empowering? Does that help? What to just hang around in the parking lot and hope the plant reopens? Read "Who Moved My Cheese?" and get with the program.
9.) Learn something new. This is just smart—it keeps you engaged, but it also makes you more marketable. I'm thinking work related here—things like new technology, communication skills, dealing with others, business writing—there are endless things we could all improve on. Pick something you like. Tell your boss. If you're a leader, provide learning opportunities for your people. Don't stop all the training because you're scared! The world isn't going to stop changing because times are tough! Your people need to be better in tough times—the competition is more intense!
10.) To steal from AA—take one day at a time. Just do your very best today. Part of our fear is that we can't see the end—we don't know how bad things might get or how long this will last. We fear the unknown, we imagine the worst. STOP! Work with what you have—this day. Make this day your masterpiece. That will be enough.
About the author: Denise Ryan, MBA, is a Certified Speaking Professional, a designation of excellence held by less than 10% of all professional speakers. She is a blogger Motivation by Chocolate.Her website is Firestars Speaking where you can see more articles and sign up for a free newsletter.