Whether economists determine that the U.S. is “officially” in a recession is a little beside the point: What’s more important is public sentiment – including yours. As we teeter on the edge of a potential recession, are you fearful of what’s around the corner – or will you choose a path in which you amp up your creativity and flourish?
Now’s the time to choose your recession style.
Uncertainty Looms Large
There can be very real financial, professional and personal implications of recessions: Most of them are sparked by inflation, which erodes day-to-day spending power and savings. We may put off buying everything from clothes to cars and as demand for goods slows, job security feels less certain and some people may be laid off. And as we’ve seen recently, stocks and other assets may take a significant hit. And we’ve never seen this confluence of unknowns: the pandemic, a war in Europe, crypto’s downside, and more are fodder for fearful thinking.
If all this has you feeling down, know this: Recessions are a necessary and healthy part of economic cycles, typically occurring when economic “irrational exuberance” has reached a tipping point. They act as resets that force everyone to take a breather.
Recession as Recess: Here’s How to Make the Most of the Cycle
In a way, I like to think of recessions as recess – that time when we got out and played, refreshing brains and bodies from the work of the school day. That’s also why many people look back on recessionary times as some of the most productive, creative, and empowering periods of their lives.
Here are three simple ways to emerge from uncertainty flourishing, not floundering.
1. Choose to Learn Something New
Enrollment in classes tends to skyrocket during recessions and it’s not just because people have lost jobs: It’s also because people take more initiative during recessions to improve professional skills and explore personal interests, both of which lead to growth.
There are thousands of free and low-cost courses available, from online offerings to community-based adult education, and learning something new is one of the best ways to empower yourself in tough times. Set a goal to learn at least two new skills – one professional, one personal – before the end of 2022.
2. Choose to Launch a Business
Unless you have ample savings or other income, I don’t recommend leaving a job now – instead, this can be an ideal time to launch a side hustle:
- When resources are tight, we get more creative, efficient, and empowered, finding lower-cost, higher-impact ways to offer services, produce goods or reach customers.
- You can leverage opportunities that may be beyond your reach when the economy is booming. For example, you may be in a better position to negotiate terms for the inventory you need.
- There tends to be less competition – existing businesses may pull back, close, or sell and other would-be entrepreneurs may wait out the uncertainty to launch. That’s why recessionary times can give you a great advantage – and if you can build a successful base now, then it’s likely you’ll find even more success when the economy comes back around.
Anything that gives you more control of your financial future while putting a few bucks in your pocket is a success – and this is true whether your business is babysitting, building a graphic design firm, or anything in between.
3. Choose to Enjoy Your Life
If you’re stressing about the financial implications of a recession, then challenge yourself to creatively ease your fears while still enjoying your life.
If you’re cutting back on dinners out with friends and miss the companionship, then schedule some lunch dates, which tend to cost less. If your plans for summer vacation are on hold, see if there’s a resort or hotel in your area that will sell you day passes and make a mini-getaway out of it. And if that $8 latte is the high point of your day, don’t cut it out, just do it differently: Instead of downing it in your car on your way to work, find somewhere relaxing to enjoy it.
Life’s too short to cut back on everything, so think of those things that mean the most to you and find creative ways to make them happen.
4. Choose to Flourish
When there’s chaos around us, that’s often the best time to move forward. Figure out what’s important to you and read the tape – pay attention to what friends, family, and colleagues are doing and saying – to learn what’s important to them, too, so that you make decisions that benefit you and those who mean the most to you.
Recession or not, what you do now can set a course that positively impacts the rest of your life. The choice is yours.