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Why We Need Hard Times

They were the best of times, they were the worst of times…there we were – Americans in the summer of 2002 – a little more patriotic than we were last summer, maybe a little more aware of the brevity of life, but many of us were struggling with tough economic times. Budget crises, company closings – things were a little scary. And being scared can be a good thing – being scared can wake us up!

We need tough times – that’s when we learn, when we grow. That’s when we find out who we really are and what we’re really made of. When customers are abundant, we can get slack on the level of service we give. We can become lazy about new product development. When we feel our jobs are guaranteed, we might start coming in late, taking longer lunch hours, doing the minimum rather than our best.

We do the same thing in our relationships, thinking people will be there for us forever, regardless of how little we give them. Often we have to lose something to appreciate it. It takes the pain of the loss to teach us the lesson.

So we have hard times – how do we make the most of them and turn them into good times as quickly as possible?

Accept the situation. Don’t waste any more energy wishing things were different or complaining. It is what it is.

Figure out what you want to do with the situation. Let’s say you’ve been laid off. Do you want to start your own business? Find work in the same industry or try something new? Is this a great reason to relocate somewhere you’ve always wanted to go? Hard times can provide great opportunities if you consider all the possibilities.

Think out of the box. This is your big chance to see how creative you can be (aren’t you tired of never using those creative juices?). Let’s say your budget has been cut. Are there some partnerships you can form? Can you trade services with another company or department? Don’t forget to ask others (including employees and suppliers) for ideas. Sometimes we’ve been thinking the same way for so long we need a little help getting our minds to open.

Learn as much as you can about your challenge. Need to bring in more customers but have less money to spend on marketing? The best investment you can make is in yourself – read books about marketing, take a class or attend a seminar. Need to sell more? Find a job? Knowledge is power. The other benefit of knowledge is that it increases your enthusiasm for your challenge. And someone on fire is unstoppable!

Commit to your decision. Hard times don’t go away overnight. If you decide to buckle down and work harder, even though you have to do so with less – give it 110%. List all the reasons you want to be there and why you want to achieve great things. If you really don’t want to be there and achieve great things, why are you wasting your life? If you’re just hanging around because you think you can’t find anything better, your hard times will never go away.

Realize that nothing worth having is ever easy. What we are given, we seldom appreciate. What we have struggled to earn is very dear to us.

All times are the best of times AND the worst of times, and the joy is in learning to appreciate both.

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