Stock markets crashing around the world, banks failing, homes repossessed, jobs lost and businesses closing daily. Many people are living in fear, anger, loosing sleep, with depression following quickly behind these events, and seemingly no end in sight.
This is old news! However, it is easy to blame, panic and sit back feeling really helpless and stuck!
From my own perspective (both personal and professional), my clients, friends and family are all experiencing this to some degree or another. We have talked seriously (or joked) about:
1) Never being able to retire.
2) Those of us that are retired becoming Wal-Mart greeters or, worse, having to go back to work.
3) Our 401k’s being 101k’s and business owners taking the money and leaving the country.
4) Selling our house/car/motorbike etc.
5) Eating out less.
6) Using coupons (some of us haven’t done that in years!).
7) Really looking at our credit card and other bills.
8) Canceling trips and projects or any non-essentials.
I would suggest that there are several proactive steps that we can take.
Think and talk about "what is the worst that can happen?" and talk about what you can do if it did. Facing the "unknown" and fears makes the darkness lighten and helps to untie the knot in your stomach.
Make a list of all of the things that make you happy. Take a good look at that list! I would be willing to bet that the majority of items on that list are free!
There are a number of people I know who are in the real estate industry. I don’t have to tell you what’s happening in that market. I also recall the years where they made millions (we’ve all seen their faces in the newspapers and the high income levels and awards they achieved), and now they are complaining.
A successful real-estate person I know told me recently, "Yes, it’s tough, but we are actually having our best year ever!" When I asked what he attributed that to, he said, "We are having to work a lot harder but the results are good. I also have good health and my family is well, and that’s all that really matters."
Wow! What a positive and unusual attitude, especially in today’s climate. Really think about that … good health and family – banks and the stock markets don’t own a piece of that!
If you are close to retirement, your investments should not be almost wiped out. Unfortunately I’m suddenly talking to too many friends who are going back to the "ratty jobs" that they don’t want or putting off their dream of retiring this year. Or they’re just starting over. Our financial planner, when we started working with her many years ago, said, "You need to realize that there will be downturns in the markets and bad years. You will need to weather those markets and not panic. Revisit your investments every year and make adjustments as necessary."
How wise she is. We did survive the crash of 2001-02, and we will survive this downturn. It isn’t permanent. In the USA, it may settle down after the new President is in office, but I make no promises.
This is certainly a bad year, but I encourage you not to panic. Face your fears, focus on the positives, adjust as necessary, but please don’t get "stuck" and make bad decisions that you will regret for a lifetime.
Carol Komassa is a certified life coach, a human resources expert and the owner of C.K. Brit, Human Resources Consulting LLC in Mequon.