7 Ideas about travelling hopefully through the economic downturn
The news is all thoroughly glum isn't it. Every day there seems to be yet another story of economic doom and gloom and global break-down. So I thought I would share with you some of the things we could try to remember in these challenging times:
What new world do you want to create and what action might you take to create it?
- Focus on the positive. The one thing we do have control of is our mental and emotional approach to how we manage the situation. I am not suggesting that the situation is not serious: I am sure that it is. But we can either allow our thoughts to increase our sense of anxiety such as "I can't stand this situation: it is ghastly and it is just going to get worse" or we can develop thoughts such as "this is a very challenging situation but I can manage it step by step and remain optimistic" so as to generate a feeling of calm and confidence. When we are stressed we are stupid and make stupid decisions: and we can't afford to make bad decisions at this time so take a deep breath and decide to feel in control.
- Focus on what we can control: decide what we can change and what we can't. We are living through unprecedented times: no expert - politician or economist - actually knows what the solutions are so the important thing is for us to focus on those aspects of our life that we can control and not spend too much time worrying about what we can't. What can we do? Perhaps we can watch our cash flow, save money, invest it carefully, put our all into the work we are doing, seek new career avenues and opportunities. Perhaps we can nurture the relationships and support systems we have and support those whom we love and with whom we live and work. In essence, travel hopefully and make every day as enjoyable as it can be. Each decision we make becomes more important and will take more consideration so as to ensure that we taking action where we can and accepting what we can't change.
- Focus on personal values. We need to flex to the changing circumstances of the economic world but the focus that can keep us sane is holding on to our personal principles and values. Doing this is not always easy but virtually always raises self-esteem and is more likely to set you on the right pathway for your own unique destiny rather than following the crowd. Groupthink can lead to panic and to not thinking wisely (look at what has just been happening when people all over the world got swept up on a wave of economic practice that was not sustainable). The pull of the crowd is strong and it takes courage to stand alone but ultimately in my experience it leads us towards those people who share our values and can support our aspirations.
- Get real. Work with facts and evidence, not with supposition and imagining what might happen - because it may never happen. If we buy into all the fear that the media and governments are setting up we could waste several months if not years of our lives living in fear, to no good avail. Unprecedented times mean that forthcoming events are unpredictable so we may simply not have the mental models available to imagine what they might look like - and you never know, things could turn out to be better than we imagine!
- Look for the opportunities. In every downturn there is opportunity. I have lived through three major periods of economic difficulty - the 1970's (when we had a 3-day week, power cuts to offices, rubbish uncollected in the streets), the 1980s and Black Monday, and the recession of the 1990s - when I set up Positiveworks. They don't last forever and there are always those who prosper despite them. We can either button down the hatches and decide that everything is going to be ghastly or we can choose to travel wisely and hopefully and look for new opportunities, new ways of working, new ways of living There are 2 books out that might be of interest to you: one called ,When Markets Collide - Investment Strategies for the Age of Global Economic Change. You can check it out on:
The other is The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers. You can check this one out in an article in The Times entitled 'Crash! Boom! Disaster! That's enough crazy talk' see: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article4981188.ece
- Be discerning. The media has decided long ago that it is only bad news that sells newspapers - so that is what they focus on. They seldom tell us of all the many good things that are going on in the world. Comment always comes with an agenda too: so listen carefully to who is doing the reporting - and why. We might remind ourselves as we read or listen to the news that what is actually happening is as much about what is not reported as about what is.
- Get creative. If the old world has gone let's consider the shape of the new world in a proactive way: it takes the sum of our individual efforts to make change a positive experience. Each one of us has more creativity and innovation within us than we might be aware of - it is time for us to get fired up about how to make this period of global downturn a time when we shift our thinking and approach to deciding what kind of new world we want to build. If we focus on negativity and fear this is what we will shape; if we focus on constructive optimism and innovation we may be able to shape something new and exciting that is grounded in wise principles and a sense of inclusion that could benefit us all. This is our challenge: let's rise to it!
12 Tips for greater confidence and happiness
Whether you are young or old here are some tips to raise your personal level of confidence. This also helps you to relate more effectively to others too. Read the tips, share them with young people and together you can build your confidence and happiness levels.
Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.
- Note down positive comments that other people say about you.
- Focus on the positive aspects of your life and your achievements.
- Learn from the things that go wrong but don’t become a victim to events – your past does not have to determine who you are today or in the future.
- Observe yourself from time to time as if you were a film director and notice what you see and how to develop your strengths.
- Remember that no one has exactly the same thoughts and ideas, so share yours, listen to others and express yourself in groups.
- Value yourself, your uniqueness, your personal views and others will be more likely to respect you.
- Don’t measure yourself against others.
- Be open to HEARING praise and recognition from others. Each day give yourself credit and think about the chance remarks or positive feedback you get from those around you.
- If someone gives you a compliment, don’t rubbish it but accept it with grace. Notice your language. Are you putting yourself down – for example, ‘I’m no good at this subject’ or ‘I will never be able to succeed at …’?
- Notice and recognize your own successes and achievements. Even when you don’t succeed, give yourself the credit for trying – that is a success and achievement in itself. Measure a person’s feedback with your own honest viewpoint. Just because one person says you have not done well does not make it a ‘fact’ but simply their viewpoint; check back with your own measure.
- Practise a ‘self-confidence snapshot’ routine every day – as many times as possible. Start to feel confident as you leave your bedroom in the morning, then again at breaktime, lunchtime, teatime and as you walk home. The more you practise the more natural a part of you confidence becomes. You can then use this technique any time you need to feel confident – exams, interviews, parties, dates and more …
- Listen to the stories of successful people on the television or read about them in magazines. You will often discover that they were not necessarily confident at the beginning of their lives but have developed confidence through hard work.
- We now live in a global environment. Wherever you live there is competition from other nationalities for university places and jobs. You are not always encouraged to express your strengths and talents. It is necessary that you start to do so because many other cultures are more forthright about demonstrating their successes and achievements. This does not mean boasting or being arrogant but it does mean that you need to value what you have created and experienced.
- Life can change in an instant. When you start work, the company you work for might be taken over or someone might enter your department who is better at putting across his or her strengths than you are. Realize that you are being observed so demonstrate your skills daily – don’t get complacent. Equally remember that you can choose to transfer these skills into another company.
- When you value and appreciate yourself this helps others to value and appreciate you.
- Identifying and living by your personal values raises your self-esteem. When you take action that is not congruent with your values you can demean yourself and this increases your stress levels. Increased stress levels, deplete your immune system and put you at risk of illness.
- In the 21st century, much comment has been made of the lack of ‘trust’ of government and corporate behaviours. These relate to personal values, as trust is built through ‘walking your talk’ – that is, living and acting in the way you talk. Therefore, if you want people to trust you, behave in a trustworthy way yourself and you are more likely to gain the trust of others.
- A person who is confident has more inner security than someone who lacks confidence. This makes him or her more able to listen to the opinions and views of other people and not feel threatened by them.
- Confident people are more able to bring out the best in other people as well as themselves and be capable of building a supportive team of people around them.
My first action step
Commit yourself to one action step over the next week that will help you feel good about yourself. This week I shall: