Time to Board the Balance Train…

In weather, some weather patterns can perpetuate themselves.  For instance, a dry weather pattern can “feed” off of itself to create even drier weather.  The same is true with a wet pattern.  Here’s what I mean…  If a pattern keeps producing rainfall over a large area to the point the ground becomes saturated, when the sun finally comes back out, all of that water will begin to evaporate back into the air.  This fills the air with water vapor and can lead to more rains which, in turn, keeps the ground saturated.  It sometimes takes months to break these patterns completely.  This happened in the spring of this year out over the eastern Plains and parts of the Midwest.

The same happens with an imbalanced life.  Imbalance breeds more imbalance.  For many who were already on the edge of the cliff financially at the beginning of our current recession (it’s finally officially been called a recession), chances are they’ve now plunged off into the abyss.  There was no room for error.  Heartbreaking.  Many people are now stuck in this rut of perpetual crisis.  Others who balanced their checkbooks and put away money in savings are able to weather downturns much better.  Life is probably pretty good for those with discretionary income these days – gas is cheap, property is cheap and everything is on sale.

Now that there has been such a crash in the economy, we have to learn lessons so that we don’t board this train of self-destruction and imbalance again anytime soon.  It’s easier to make it through a real crisis when you’re not living them day-to-day as a standard.  With that in mind, here are a few suggestions:

1.  Never go back to the overspending lifestyle so many of us lead.  Keeping up with the Joneses nailed us.  Forget about the Joneses!  Buy what we can afford…

2.  Pay yourself first.  Put away money each and every pay period so that when a crisis does come, you’ve got some cushion to get through it.

3.  Learn something new.  If you’ve recently lost your job, I’m sorry, but it could be a new beginning for you as well.  Take this opportunity to learn a new skill or further the skills you already have.  This will put you in a better position to be hired at better pay when companies start hiring again (and they will one day).  You might even decide to start your own business.

4.  Exercise.  The stress of what we’re going through can be very tough.  You’re body doesn’t do very well in a constant state of stress.  Exercising will allow you to let some of that pent up frustration out.  There’s a good article in INC magazine this month about the owner of a software company who used exercise to get through the stress of running a troubled company.

5.  Love on your family.  I know this isn’t always easy when you feel like everything is collapsing around you, but your family needs you and you need them.  Lean on each other and take care of each other in these crazy times.  It’s much easier to slosh through the mud of life when you’ve got a real teammate.  Let your loved ones know you’ve got their backs and don’t be above leaning on them when you need to.  Show more grace and mercy with your loved ones that you normally do.  They are probably as stressed as you…

6.  Remember, it’s bad now (and will likely get worse before it gets better) but it won’t stay this way.  Just like in the weather, the economy goes through cycles.  We simply couldn’t support all the things we were buying with credit forever.  It had to stop at some point.  It was a spending bubble that collapsed.  When it’s all said and done, we’ll be on more solid ground and we’ll all be stronger and smarter for going through it.  If there’s a silver lining in what’s happening now, it’s that we’ll change our behavior because of it – and that’s a good thing.

These will probably be some of the most challenging times of our lives in the upcoming months.  We should remember how we feel while we’re going through this to motivate us to never get to this point again.   Those who do stand a much better chance of improving their lives because they became not only stronger but smarter…

How has it changed you?

New Opportunities?

The economy has softened.  The housing market has crashed in many areas of the country.  The price of everything from gas to food continues to increase.  There are some hard times out there.   Obviously, the gloomy headlines are everywhere.  People that were already living on the financial edge are at their witt’s end.  The next coming crisis – credit cards.  Instead of taking equity out of homes for cash, people have returned to using credit cards to make ends meet and unsecured debt is skyrocketing.  Over the next few months, you’re going to start hearing much more about how the credit card situation is worsening.  It’s going to get tougher before it gets better…  It’s just the pattern we’re in…

But, if you’re observant….  If you can spot trends…  If you listen to what’s happening in your community, your town, your state, your country, you can find new opportunities to do well economically even when it seems like it’s all going downhill.  These opportunties are out there whether you’re tuned into them or not.  Here are just a couple of thoughts to ponder if you’re wondering what you’re going to do…

1.  If gas prices are high and people can’t afford to drive their cars to work, are there new opportunites to support people who set up home-based offices or businesses as more people look for ways to not spend so much on gas?  I predict you’ll hear much more about this in the coming months as oil prices rise to even higher levels and more people get creative to work from home or start home-based businesses.

2.  In some parts of the country, there is a shortage of people trained to install solar panels.  There are more jobs out there than are workers (especially out west).  If you have any kind of construction or engineering experience, what can you do to take advantage of the fast-growing wave of “green” energy companies?  Billions in investment money are being poured into green energy technology right now.  There are hundreds of start-up companies trying to figure out creative ways to power this country without oil.  Some of these companies will become energy titans over the next few years with lots of jobs being created in these realitively new industries.  Keep your eye on this.  How can you take advantage of this now?  Google search “jobs in green energy”.  Can you start a business to train people for these new “green” jobs?

3.  If so many people are losing their homes to foreclosure, where will they live?  If you like real estate, owning rental units may be something to investigate.  In your community, is there a need to supply housing to families who have lost their homes and are needing a new roof over their heads?  If they can’t buy, they’ll rent or lease…

Begin asking yourself questions about the needs and opportunites of which you can take advantage in your community.  Some are going to start new businesses in this down economy and will thrive.  Can you be one of them?  What other opportunties do you see out there in this ever-changing economic environment?