Know that moment when someone indicates the sheer futility of action — when they shrug their shoulders, and say, “What are you gonna do?” Hand gestures optional, of course.
“What are you gonna do?” suggests there’s really nothing you can do. The problem is way above your pay grade.
There’s a lot of “what are you gonna do?” going around these days. And it’s awfully darn easy to feel powerless and at the whim of people and forces greater than you. Sitting back and feeling small takes its toll, though. Adds to stress, depression and encroaching panic.
A wise man once wrote that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. To get through the uncertainty and powerlessness so many of us feel because we don’t really know what we’re gonna do about the financial bubble, the housing bubble, the employment bubble, and the numerous other bubbles we hear about with alarming frequency — well, we can start by taking that first step.
Know your credit score. If there is a global credit crisis, people with good credit scores will be able to write their own ticket. Take a look at your credit report and make a strategy to raise your number. Each credit bureau will give you specific recommendations on how to do that. You might need to start by making your payments on time and in full. Or, if you have too many accounts, close some.
Start paying with cash. Yeah, I know. We’re used to whipping out the plastic. If you like the convenience of plastic, use your debit card. Oh, I hear you…you don’t have the money in your account to buy your three cups of $4 coffee a day. Do you know that you effectively pay an additional fifty cents for that cup of joe every time you use a credit card? And if you don’t pay off your balance in full, it compounds. Which, if I remember my math, means you pay…lots. Why not pay cash so you can keep on buying coffee down the road?
Beef up your job skills. I have had clients who have postponed the education or training their bosses have suggested. Just haven’t gotten around to it. But, believe me, when layoffs have to happen the most skilled and cooperative people will be the last to go. If training hasn’t been suggested to you, or if you own your own business, ask yourself: what can I learn that can make my work more productive? Then take that class.
Center in your strengths. I work with many coaches who are building their coaching practices. Too often, I see people struggle because they are not centering their business on their own strengths. Too often, they try to build their practices based on what someone told them works. Which often has nothing whatsoever to do with their own, individual strengths. Your strengths always energize you. Work from that place of power, and whatever your work is — it will thrive.
Double down. It’s tempting to face an uncertain economic situation and draw back. But while everyone is retreating in fear, you can move forward by being realistically optimistic. If your budget allows for it, double down on your marketing efforts. If your budget allows for it, take your kids to the fondue restaurant. If your budget allows for it, max out your retirement account.
Vote. One little action. So much power.
Live in gratitude. This morning I woke up and thought about the cheeseburgers I whipped up on the grill last night and was flooded with a wave of gratitude — I’m so grateful to be able to feed my family. Sound weird? Wouldn’t have been to my Dust Bowl-era grandmother.
Panic serves no one. Doesn’t make you happier, or more focused, or wealthier. So, “what are you gonna do?” You’re gonna take some healthy, strong steps away from panicked powerlessness — toward a happier life.
Sounds pretty good to me.