How to Stay Upbeat in a Down Economy

by Kevin on January 30, 2009

(Photo by Steve Weaver)

I must admit that the economy is really starting to get to me. It seems so stupid to even admit that where the entire world wide web can read it.

I’m not terrified. I wouldn’t even say I am officially scared.

But I do feel a bit… spooked, you could say.

Some questions that have run through my mind (and likely yours) recently:

  • Will the layoffs ever end?
  • Will consumer spending come back any time soon and save us?
  • Will I lose my job?
  • Do we have enough money saved?
  • Is the world coming to an end?
  • How many more family murder-suicides am I going to read about in the news?
  • What if the increased government debt/spending brings us to our knees?
  • Should we move to … well… somewhere safe?

I could go on and on. These thoughts are fairly common if the conversations I hear around me are good examples of how everyone is feeling.

Yet I feel that we can’t let it get us down. We have to persevere even if it is just mentally.

Tips on Staying Positive

I’m not the best guy to be writing this since I am feeling these emotions as well, but here goes.

Get some perspective. The US economy has been through several recessions in the past. We’ve come out of all of the recessions in the past. Were circumstances different? Yes. Did some things change? Yes.

Check your defenses. Now this might be a place that makes you nervous. If you have no savings, if you are in over your head with debt, if you don’t have monetary defenses… then you might be vulnerable to a recessionary downturn.

However, if you’ve been smart and have an emergency fund, give yourself a pat on the back. Anything at this point — 3, 6, or 12 months is a positive move. If you are out of debt, give yourself another pat on the back. This essentially lowers your monthly commitments and lowers the amount of income you need to bring in (or extends how long your emergency fund should last).

Turn off the news. Seriously. Cut it out. Stop watching CNN. Stop reading the news webpages. It’s all going to be negative. Being informed is one thing, but constant news surveillance can be a real downer. So stop listening/reading and go do something positive.

Get some exercise. Exercise releases endorphins in your body and make you feel better. You might do this after you turn off the news. Your Mom was always right — the fresh air is good for you.

Network, network, network. Supposedly 66% of all people who get a new job get it through networking. That is someone they know, knows someone who is either hiring or can help you get hired.

So get out to networking meetings. Have lunch with your friends. Touch base with them over time. This can’t be something that you turn on only when you need a job. You’ve got to consistently network over time. A solid network can catch you when you fall out of the workplace.

Stay Alert, Not Panicked

We don’t need to be ignorant about the current economic conditions. But realize this: you are always at risk of losing your job whether you are a contractor, permanent employee, or even working for a state, local, or the federal government. Never get comfortable.

Take a deep breath. Check and continue to build up your defenses. Don’t freak out. Panicking will likely lead to decisions that make the situation worse rather than better.

How are you feeling about the economy? Let’s talk about it — leave a comment.

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February 2, 2009 at 1:43 am


Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet January 30, 2009 at 11:00 am

This week has been especially bad. Everyone I talk to got laid off, or knows someone who got laid off. My post today touches on that subject but I didn’t even get into the worst of it. Some of the things people are doing to try to save their jobs is really sad.

I’m normally a very positive person, always looking for the silver lining. But this week has me down. I just keep hearing over and over about layoffs. And not from the news which I’ve been avoiding, but from people I know. It sucks.

But the economy has to contract before it can grow again. We had a lot of insane growth there for a while. So we have to have some insane constricting to match it. Hopefully it doesn’t get much worse.

Jenn January 30, 2009 at 10:41 pm

I’m terrified. I work in marketing which generally has a lot of layoffs during rough economic times. On top of that, I had to request some changes to my job description as I’m recovering from an accident and am just not 100% yet, I can’t handle crazy amounts of business travel yet, and I’m afraid I commited a huge mistake by telling my company that. It’s scary when you actually consider if your health or your job is more imporant. I chose my health, but wonder if that’s going to hurt me later.

Start-Up January 31, 2009 at 2:36 pm

I hate watching the news. The news is full of stories that make you sad. Every now and then I miss out on information like not eating peanut butter, but for the most part I hear the important information from talking with family and friends and I miss out on the sad and disappointing news. I just really hate the news and it’s not even just the financial news.

Curt February 1, 2009 at 10:30 pm

It’s time to start thinking about getting your own customers. Customers that a job lose will not be able to take away from you.

[email protected] February 2, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Good advice! I think it is important to recognize the economic climate we are living in and prepare ourselves accordingly.

I certainly believe in having a nice emergency fund to fall back on should an unanticipated situation arise.

Kevin February 5, 2009 at 9:56 pm

@Ashley: That’s the thing. We need to keep perspective. Booms and busts are bound to happen, unfortunately.

@Jenn: Excellent point. I can imagine that being scary. No one wants to pop up with anything that might get them put on “the list”.

@Startup: Interesting perspective. I’ve read (or is it .net?) before, but it is mostly fluff.

@Curt: Exactly. Having something on the side… or even full time in addition to regular income would be awesome 🙂

@Jeff: I’m definitely feeling better since we have an emergency fund, yet I have this nagging feeling I’d feel even better if it were double or quadruple the size!

Dave June 14, 2009 at 5:53 pm

I sadly have joined the huge rakes of the unemployed. Having worked steady for the last 10 years as a engineer, I’m scared to death. I got no severance, and will have to tap into my 401k (what’s left of it) and un-employment to make ends meet. I hope I don’t lose my home. I’ve been reading that networking is the “new” way to find a job. I’m going to try that full speed ahead. I was worried when I heard of all the layoffs, but I thought I was safe. I’m now hoping to find a company that treats it’s workers with respect and allows THEM to grow, but that may be a hard road to follow. It’s hard to stay upbeat, but it’s better than feeling down all the time. I pray I can provide for my family, and find a new job soon. Good luck to everyone in the same situation.

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