Everywhere I look I see the signs that the economy is in dire straights, even our president elect Barack Obama is saying he needs TARP funds released before he gets into office. Just the other day I read in Penelope Trunk's blog that she has run out of funding for her start up company. A good friend shared that his company will run out of funds at the end of the January and any he is talking to investors in terms of months of payroll. With all of this bad news it becomes very difficult to focus and believe that we will come out of this. Yes, things are difficult but you or I cannot change the macro environment, however, we can change ourselves and our outlook.
The Japanese have a saying, Shoganai ‘shoga-nai‘, It literally means “there’s nothing we can do about it.” The word implies: “It’s no-body's fault, it’s just nature’s course, we can’t do anything about it, so let’s forgive, let go, and move on.” To effectively apply Shoganai to your life, focus on the following ten things you can control:
1) Control what you think. Christina Merkley, The Shift-it coach, recommends in her post Tell a New Story in 2009 that you, "Make the effort to change your internal programming – even just cleaning up one little degree of resistance can have a huge impact on your overall trajectory" One technique Christina recommends is to FLIP IT, where you take your current thought and FLIP IT around to a positive. Do this with the US unemployment rate published at 7.2% and FLIP IT to the opposite and you have 92.8% of people are employed. Set a personal agreement to flip all of your negative thoughts.
2) Exercise More. I know this one is beating a dead horse but it really worked for me. There are numerous studies that show exercise provides better stress management, builds your immunity, and improves your sleep. I personally was able to drop 50 pounds and as an added benefit reduce my blood pressure, cholesterol, and manage stress much better with my regular exercise regimen. Taking care off your body will take care of your mind.
3) Learn Something New. Take a class a your local college that will add to your professional skills. Sign up for Toastmasters and improve your presentation and selling skills. This will make you more marketable and desirable to potential employers. Continuous learning and growth will exercise the mind and expand your creative ideas not to mention positive contributions to your current job.
4) Implement a 15 minute per day reading plan. See my post about reading daily. Spending 15 minutes of reading something positive can make immediate improvement in your personal outlook. Your subconscious mind processes the activities of the day and inserting a positive influence right before your sleep will channel this processing down the path of enlightenment.
5) Turn off the news. There is very little that you as an individual can do at this moment to make a change to what has already happened. The news is always reporting events after the fact. Listening to bad things that have already happened is depressing your outlook unnecessarily. Take the advice of Michael Hyatt and take a media break. This is not a recommendation to ignore what is happening or to hide from the truth, rather this is a recommendation to intentionally limit the amount and volume of bad news you are taking in. There are plenty of opportunities to be told about how the economy is doing by friends and associates; these conversations will happen whether you are watching the news or not. So reduce the negative inputs.
6) Spend more time with friends and family. If you stop watching TV you will have more time to spend with your friends and family. Take the time and renew your friendships and enjoy time spent together. If you enjoyed the time you spent idle then it was time not wasted. Living abroad as I do I find the times that I am most homesick are during the Holiday events that included big get together with friends and family: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Fourth of July. Spending time connecting with others is one of life's definitions of an individual.
7) Start a new project. Todd Henry from the accidental creative asks, "you DO have built-in unnecessary creating time, right?" One of the best uses of your time is to start a new project, whether it be a personal creative project that allows you to explore your talents outside of the office or a project within the office. Exploring your own creative side with breakthrough barriers that are holding you back spawning the discovery of new and interesting solutions and maybe even your next venture. Write a proposal and present it to your boss on how to improve office efficiency or a new market for your company's products. Even if it is rejected you will have gained valuable experience and practice for your next idea as well is valuable credibility within your organization.
8) Give back. I am an advocate for having a calling that drives who you are (A Job or a Calling ). I am not suggesting that we spend money to give back, rather it is about donating your time. There will always be people or organizations in need that cannot afford to pay for the skills they are in need of. By finding a way that you can use your considerable talent outside of the office contributing to the greater good you will find the ultimate satisfaction. Look at your job as a means to an end and that end is the opportunity to donate your time to helping others. You will find tremendous satisfaction and this satisfaction will empower you, your job does not define you, your calling will. Use your considerable talents for a greater good outside of the office.
9) Write a daily journal. The most powerful thing I did in late 2008 was to start writing in my journal on a daily basis. My aunt, and author of Daily Paintings, Elin Pendleton made this recommendation to me when I was 12 years old and some many years later, after reading the book,"Write it Down Make it Happen" I started this practice. This daily exercise of writing for a minimum of 20 uninterrupted minutes allows me to dump all the thoughts out of my brain, clearing up my thoughts and then improving my focus. This allows me to review all that is there and realize that much of what I was thinking was not focused on the priorities of the day; I write about goals, ambitions, letters to family, and even notes to others. Taking the time each day to write will clarify your ideas; this single activity has proven to be powerful therapy.
10) Appreciate the moment. Times may be difficult and there is no easy way to say this but feel the experience. You are more alive today than you have ever been, feel alive and appreciate this very moment. Once the moment has passed it will be gone for ever so appreciate what you do have. Then look to the future; opportunities are available and no matter what will happen in 2009; the economy will recover.
Shoganai, "It’s no-body's fault, it’s just nature’s course, we can’t do anything about it, so let’s forgive, let go, and move on.” You are defined by the people you meet, the places you have been, and the books you have read. Focus on what you can control, let go and take back your life.