The general consensus among experts (and some not-so-experts) is that we are likely headed into an economic downturn. It’s natural that this likelihood can create a lot of fear and uncertainty in people, which of course can cause significant anxiety amid legitimate challenges.
Fear and anxiety live in uncertainty.
There is no doubt that many will lose their jobs or their businesses amidst the economic turmoil. The unemployment rate will rise, credit will be more difficult to secure, and some may have to reset their lives completely. It’s painful enough for many of us to want to bury our heads in the sand, put on our best flapper outfits, and dance the Charleston as if nothing bad is really happening…
There is very little we can control as it relates to the economic cycles. Even the most powerful individuals in the world can do little to control the forces of physics that guide the money machine of the free markets. The mob mentality that drives things like economic booms and busts is vastly more powerful than any message put forth by a president or federal reserve chairperson. And yet, we are subject to the effect of such cycles to the degree that our lives can be turned upside down.
Fortunately, there are things that are entirely within our control, that can prepare us for when opportunities arise (and they will arise). It’s about the perspective that we bring to the downturn. Many successful entrepreneurs have become successful by creating opportunities that have presented themselves during challenging times. As Warren Buffett is known for saying, “be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”
It’s important to recognize that there is an end to these downturns. There will be another boom. What is important, amidst all of the circumstances that affect us, is our mindset and perspective.
What mindset and perspective are you bringing into this downturn?
The three things I present below, if prioritized with discipline, will put you in the best position to take action when opportunity rears its pretty head..
1. Focus on Your Physical Health
Being attentive to your physical well being is one of the first steps to providing the energy, the confidence, the courage to face challenging times in the best state possible. Without physical health, personal challenges can become vastly more overwhelming.
This was my experience in the last downturn of 2008 when my career and financial well being took a massive hit. I was not physically healthy at the time and alcohol, cigarettes, and junk food were a crutch to numb me from the pain of the feeling that I was not good enough, full of anxiety, and generally just not happy. Those feelings were amplified because I was not taking care of my physical well being. It was a vicious cycle.
When we came out of that great recession, and I made the decision to get sober, I began to get my physical health in order and in the process found deeper meaning and purpose. I learned to accept that the human experience is a series of ups and downs, and we can be better equipped for either scenario when we are physically healthy.
I found this to be true as I faced some of the most challenging periods in my life as a physically healthy sober person – experiences like leaving a toxic work situation with no source of income, caring for a chronically ill family member, leading a company through generational change, and leading through crisis.
When we focus on our physical health, we open ourselves up to more opportunity, even if times are difficult. It was during these same turbulent times that I was able to realize some of my most memorable accomplishments – qualifying for the Ironman World Championship, authoring a book, starting a successful coaching business, successfully guiding a company into the nine figures. I was able to find the opportunities in the challenges in part because my physical state was healthy and strong.
In what ways can you focus on physical health to maximize your energy and state during challenging times?
2. Focus on Your Mental Health
When we are beat down emotionally and mentally, it is very hard to pick ourselves back up. But if we can prioritize our mental health, we are better equipped to don the armor of courage when economic difficulties emerge. This is not to say that we can ever truly be free from emotional turmoil (nor should we be. We feel feelings for a reason!). But we should have the tools to rise above our fears and create a path for growth through and beyond the struggle.
There are a few things you can do to focus on mental health. One VERY important one not to overlook is therapy. I have personally been in therapy for well over a decade, and it has been a saving grace. In the midst of our darkest moments, never underestimate the power of connection and feeling heard.
In addition to that, when the proverbial crap hits the fan (who are these psychos throwing crap at fans anyway?), it is important to remember that we have a choice in deciding whether or not we are victims. Are you the victim of your story, or the hero? It’s easy to default to feeling victimized if you are on the receiving end of bad news. There is no doubt. But again, mindset matters.
How can you shift your mindset from a victim mentality to a hero mentality? The first way is to make sure you have identified, and are living out, your core values. When we are living out our core values, regardless of our circumstances, we are living out our purpose. Additionally, how you start your day matters. Developing an empowering morning practice that promotes presence, energy, and empowerment (a process I endearingly call the “Morning PEE”) frames every day in the best possible light. When you do that, you are opening your mind to more opportunity, whereas staying in victim mode closes your mind to opportunity. When you open your mind to opportunity, voila! Opportunity are created.
3. Obsessively Add Value
Remember that opportunities are not found. They’re created. They are created by enterprising people who have the energy and mindset to creatively solve problems for people. When are problems created? During challenging times! The more problems there are, the more opportunities there are to add value.
Note: Adding value does not mean selling. Instead this is the time to add value for the sake of adding value, while having faith that the seeds you are planting now will bear fruit later.
This is the time to plant seeds.
The more you can be creative in how you add value for people and companies, the more you will rise to the top when it matters. Then when it is time to harvest, you will have a healthy crop.
What does adding value look like? It can be as simple as making someone’s path smoother today than it was yesterday. Or it could be presenting opportunities to people without expecting anything in return. It could be connecting people with one another to allow value to be created by their coming together. One thing it is not is looking at problems and trying to demonstrate your intelligence by pointing out more problems instead of offering solutions.
If you can do something to simplify a person’s life in a meaningful way, you’ve added value. And if you do it enough and in the right way, it will not be forgotten when it matters most.
How are you best suited to create value for others?
The result of practicing these three things during an economic downturn will be you being better positioned to find and create meaningful opportunities. It will be from those opportunities that you experience the next great boom for yourself. You will also learn a ton in the process, and build a valuable network of people that can become your tribe.
This is what I experienced when I stopped being a victim of my circumstances and started taking control of the parts of my life that I could control. Small steps led to giant leaps over time. The first value I was able to create was small, but it grew exponentially over time. The seeds I planted became thriving trees, and they weathered the continuing storms.
What seeds will you plant during this next recession?
If you would like to dive deeper into some powerful tools to help you build courage, rise above fear, and realize your ultimate potential, reach out to me for a free strategy call. I look forward to hearing from you!