thanks Matthew. good perspectives to keep in mind.
Opportunity Knocks for Enterpreneurs
In a time of uncertainty, these ideas may be helpful if your small business is in jeopardy. In this article, I offer some coping techniques for these turbulent times, and turn over some stones to find business opportunity.
667,000 more lay-offs announced today! We are in an historic time as far as business failure for some, and opportunity for nimble, clever small business owners. All of us have a friend or family member who has lost his or her job lately. As a family therapist, I’m confronted with stories from my clients that are laden with fear and anxiety. It’s normal for all of us to be highly concerned about the toll that this economic downturn is taking on our mental and fiscal wellbeing.
My challenge is to re-frame the end of the world thinking by these intelligent, talented persons, who turn to me for inspiration and advice. I would like to share some of the ideas that have come up in sessions where we work collaboratively to stare down this stress monster. These ideas are practical, and do not ask you to re-invent yourself, although some clients have taken their misfortune to try something new for work. There is no sugar-coating how bad things are in the workplace, but unbridled anxiety is not going to help your situation.
1) The Importance of Saying “Yes”
In this economy you have to think about all opportunities to connect with others. You’ll have to be nimble and aggressive in building your network, and the biggest piece of that is to say “yes” to all kinds of invitations. Whether it’s a community meeting to discuss how to allocate space for parks, or coffee with a former co-worker, or attending business networking events sponsored by Biznik, or other business networking groups, it’s imperative to get out there and interact. From Parade Magazine (Page 13, January 2009), actress Kerri Russell summed it up best: “Opportunities can be wildly different from what you perceived they were going to be. If you have your eye on just one thing, you might miss something better. I realize that, in life, new experiences are the only things that matter. If you way ‘no’ to everything, what do you have?”
2) Make hard choices between needs and wants
This is as straightforward and pragmatic as it sounds. You don’t really need that latte every morning from Starbucks (sorry, Mr. Schultz)! Make coffee at home, and save $100/month. Examine all of your recurring expenses like cell phone bills, cable TV bills, utilities, health clubs, magazines, and decide where to cut. Of course when things get back to normal, you can slowly add these things back to your life. For now, batten down the hatches and eliminate all “wants” expenses.
3) Think in terms of one to two degrees of separation
This is a critical planning function to get back on your feet after a lay-off. Who do you know? Who do they know? It’s amazing to watch how quickly you can find the right person to meet and further your career. Allocate a small amount of money to pay for coffee (Yes, you need to buy the lattes in this case, right Howard?), or get the bill at lunch. You need to always remember to ask that person for a few contacts to further your network. I find it helpful to send an email “thank you,” reminding the person of who they might have mentioned at lunch or coffee.
4) Have outlets to relieve stress
Whatever you do, do not cancel your health club membership! You need to have that anxiety outlet like never before. The human psyche needs to have anchors that give us control over something. Keeping your body fit and the satisfaction that comes with improving your fitness are fantastic to your mental wellbeing. Also, you may find fellow cardio slaves or basketball foes who may have a contact idea for you. You need to always be thinking about how your buddies at the gym may be that one-degree of separation.
5) Plan for the worst
In the military, leaders often script battle scenarios in which their army takes on maximum casualties. You need to think about a worst case outcome to your misfortune, short of catastrophic thinking like starving to death, and plan for that. If you find ways to handle the worst, then you can handle anything that happens.
6) Don’t hesitate to use helpful services
I’m hopeful that existing physical and mental health care services will not be cut too deeply during this difficult time. Use what is available to off-load some of that stress, or get help with sleep. I know that folks in my profession are quite willing to work with clients on an ability to pay basis. I've obtained a number of new clients lately by offering a great deal on my website, 5 sessions for $200.
During the holidays, my family and I decided to make a donation of food to our local food bank. While the experience was quite gratifying, I was surprised to see how much great food was available for needy families and individuals. Looking at all the fresh produce and baked goods, my stomach started grumbling. And after you eat, remember that we have jewels like Greenlake, Pike Place Market, and a bunch of great parks to take a relaxing walk with a friend or alone. It’s imperative that you keep your body working well during this stressful time so that you stay healthy and motivated for better times ahead.
7) If you can, go!
I’m sure that we’ve all thought about just getting the heck out of dodge to change our perspective and life course. Well, if you have the means, enjoy travel and adventure, what’s stopping you from heading to South America or Asia? I’ve never worked for any of the wonderful organizations that are doing great work in third world countries, but have read extensively about those who serve. A recent story about a Harvard educated lawyer, who decided to leave his stressful life at his law firm, has been working in places like Ecuador to help locals who have been victims of a broken justice system. With the internet, almost every possibility of a rewarding change in career and venue can be researched and actualized. Go for it!
8) Write in grateful terms
When considering your situation, it helps to find those things in your new life for which you can be grateful. One friend who was recently let go told me that his whole world has opened up since he left his company. He loves the fact that he can linger over lunch with a friend, and not worry about running to a meeting. The hiatus in his work life has also increased his time and availability to hang with his family, something that he truly enjoys and has been missing for a few years. Other ideas that you can ponder include the fact that you are a U.S. citizen, and that allows you enormous freedoms in your next career move or where you might live next. If you have some money saved, you can plan your budget to anticipate necessary spending, while considering whether or not you want to ruin a good summer in Seattle by working. The point is, we all have to find genuine touchstones of gratitude to re-frame this economic disaster, and keep from spiraling down the rabbit hole.
Learn more about the author, Matthew Gittleman.
Comment on this article
Posted by sage k. saskill, seattle, Washington |
Feb 27, 2009
Posted by Valerie Farris Oman, Seattle, Washington |
Feb 27, 2009
Thanks, Matt, for an article that addresses the realities of our economic situation without hysteria or fear. Far too much of the media coverage around the recession (including broadcasting the panic-inducing word "recession" months before we were ever in one!) comes from fear and intends to invoke that response in viewers/readers. Yes, we are in a tough spot. Yes, things could get even harder than they are. But, it's not denial or "Pollyanna-ish" to continue to have hope and find blessings where we may in the midst of our current struggles.
Posted by Ken Peters, Phoenix, Arizona |
Feb 28, 2009
Good advice when people need something to counter the gloom and doom perpetuated by the media. Thank you for sharing these tips.
I also concur with Valerie's sentiments above. Times may indeed be tough for many people, but every day is a blessing, and full of possibility.
I invite you and your readers to click over to this article that I recently posted on biznik. I think it is an appropriate companion to your piece. It's my own attempt to shine a positive light on things, and hopefully inspire folks too.
Posted by Matthew Gittleman, Seattle, Washington |
Feb 28, 2009
Thanks everyone for sharing your own experiences and insights during this difficult time. I hope that we are nearing the bottom, but was really taken aback by some stores about B of A (reluctant to relinquish funds from a CD redemption - Oh oh!), and the imminent nationalization of Citigroup. As one commentator put so well, we looked for our nemesis, and discovered that he is really all of us. Once we go through a period of de-leveraging, I think we'll be fine.
Posted by Denise Reed, Chattanooga, Tennessee |
Mar 16, 2009
These are great insights, Matt. In these difficult times, it is important to be hopeful and to dream.
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