Back in 2007, I wrote about what to do in the Absence Of Perfect. What do you do when the perfect solution you have in mind is just not gonna happen?
You can hold on to your idea of “perfect” or, as I suggest, you can ask yourself, “what’s my best option right now?”
There’s so much uncertainty in life these days, and just like you I’m feeling it. In my perfect world, everyone who wanted a job would have a good one. We’d all make our mortgage payments and guys like Bernie Madoff would be responsible stewards of other people’s money.
Yep, in my perfect world, you and I wouldn’t worry about paying for food, or juggling bills, or managing prescriptions, or getting shingles replaced on the roof because there would always be enough of everything for everyone.
A Michele-ian utopia.
But right now perfect is not happening.
So what’s our best option? Well, we could wallow, which is an oft-chosen yet quite unproductive option, or we could do something. I, as you regular readers can imagine, am taking the “do something” approach:
1. Honoring my priorities — which means mortgage, mortgage, mortgage. It’s my intention to pay it first, and attend to other obligations from there. Prioritizing my mortgage means that I am also watching refinancing opportunities like a hawk, and will jump just as soon as I possibly can. This works for me as I plan to stay in my house indefinitely. Well, at least until my kids can get in-state tuition at one of the great universities in Virginia. Or until the Redskins win another Super Bowl. Didn’t I say “indefinitely”?
2. Take on no new debt — which means no big spending. I’d been considering post-graduate studies, and that is now officially on hold. Here’s my rule of thumb: If I can pay for it fully in cash, or pay it off in three months, I will do it. If not, I’m shoving it to the back burner.
3. Pay down my debt — which may mean that I don’t have as much cash on hand as the so-called experts suggest but when I have less debt, I will have more cash flow, allowing me to build up my cash reserves quickly. Feels right to me.
4. Doing what I can to increase my income — which means I’ve developed some great new programs. I have The Results Club for job seekers with my colleague Christina Brandt — a phenomenally gifted Master Coach — and we’re working together on a useful e-book called Finding a Job 2.0. I’m also working with Pam Slim, an insightful and humorous writer and Master Coach, to launch Kick-Ass Mentoring this week, which will help coaches move from stuck to success. Both of these programs are so good that I get goose bumps. All these efforts will (cross your fingers) bring in revenue and more easily help me attend to numbers 1-3 above.
Oh, I hear you. You government employees, corporate citizens, teachers and other blokes who have steady employment — “How can I make more money? I’m on a salary.” Yes, you are. And you can be like the happy young teacher I met the other day, who is working as a waitress on the weekends, AND creating memorable art-themed birthday parties for kids in her spare time around classes. Quite the go-getter.
The question for you may be, How can you go get? What can you do? I’m telling you — I feel good that I’m doing something. I have a plan. I have priorities. Which is my best option, given that so much is beyond my control.
If you’re freaked out about what’s happening now — if your reality of layoffs and tight budgets doesn’t meet your idea of perfection — then take a little step back and ask yourself, “OK, what’s my best option here?” What can you do?