March 30th, 2012 at 11:38 am
Despite the unseasonably warm March weather, the economy shows few signs of green shoots (a phrase we don’t even hear in the media anymore!) Many businesses continue to struggle and households are under more pressure than ever. It is all too easy for our self confidence and self belief to be eroded at a time when we need it most.
In challenging times, we have two options in terms of how we respond – do we allow ourselves to sink, or do we keep swimming?
We sink by allowing ourselves to become overwhelmed by the doom and gloom that bombards us every day. We sink when we succumb to pessimism and cynicism and perpetuate it in our daily conversations. We sink by continuing to do what we have always done in the vain hope that we do not have to make changes.
If we choose to swim, we examine what the reality of the current economic climate means for us directly. We swim when we focus on what is within our control. We swim by seeking to develop new skills, new strengths and new attitudes. We swim by getting more flexible, thinking outside the box and by getting hungry for new solutions.
Here are five ways to ensure you are propelling yourself forward.
1. Beware the Doomsayers!
Do you really need to tune into the news at 6pm every evening for the daily dose of depressing statistics? Seriously consider controlling your exposure to the news. That doesn’t mean you don’t stay informed. Get the facts and ask ‘how will this directly impact me?’ Equally some people are getting a tremendous perverse pleasure from the current economic climate. Don’t buy into their depressing interpretation of the world. We can control the information we absorb and we can control our responses to it, if we become just a little more self aware.
2. It is ok to be scared
Stepping up to the challenges we face doesn’t mean we won’t be scared of change, or that there won’t be obstacles along the way. But in difficult times inaction is usually not an option. Burying your head in the sand usually means unpleasant decisions are just postponed. If you are trying something new, moving outside your comfort zone, you are going to feel anxious and self conscious. Learning, opportunities and new solutions will always lie outside your current safety zone and in challenging times your safety zone is no longer that safe.
3. Connect with your inner strength.
As Martin Luther King said ‘the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ It is at the time of crisis when our backs are to the wall that we show what we are made of. It is amazing what you can do when you have no choice but to take action. Think about times in the past when you achieved something you put your mind to, or when you overcame challenges and persevered to achieve the tasks at hand. What qualities do you tap into when you are being the best of yourself?
4. Give away what you want.
If you are looking to feel more positive, more confident, more focused, help others to feel more positive and confident. When times are tough we can sink into the habit of ‘poor me.’ This might get us attention or sympathy but it usually doesn’t move us forward. How can you contribute to the lives of others either through your work or personal life? How can you serve your customers better? How can you add more value?
5. Get support
Share your concerns and proposed actions with others who have your best interests at heart. Rarely do we achieve much in isolation. Who do you know that you could have a new conversation with? Who inspires you and what can you learn from them? If you are looking to earn more, it usually means having to learn more. Learning starts by asking new questions of ourselves and others.
This ‘great recession’ as it is being labelled is non-discriminatory. Public or private sector, blue or white collar worker, everyone is impacted. Because we did not actively contribute to the current difficulties it is easy to see ourselves as victims. Unfortunately sometimes we behave like victims.
The only real choice we have is to swim, often against a strong tide. We have to look to the future and prepare for the time when the recession ends, because all recessions do end. There is no point in clinging to the past; we move forward by taking action today which in turn shapes our future tomorrow.
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