The seas didn't part when we got a new president. There wasn't a pot of gold on your doorstep when the stimulus package passed. And the turn of a calendar page did not cure all your economic ills.
If you caught yourself saying, "Thank God 2009 is over!" you may well find yourself saying the same thing when 2010 ends -- but you could well be poorer, older and less employable by that point.
What are you waiting for? Seriously! You may be frustrated because your troubles have gone on and on and on, but the worst thing you can do is slow down or give in to defeatism.
Really, America, it is time you got off your ass.
How do you do that when you are drowning in fear and uncertainty? Especially when your task is to start over and re-invent yourself, the challenge is extraordinary and intimidating.
My advice is quite simple. Ownership. Baby steps. Small victories. Bettering the product. Opening your vision. It is the same formula whether you are overwhelmed after being laid off or feel like you are sinking because you don't have a clue how to create success out of the mediocre life you have for yourself.
The year doesn't change you. You change the year. So, if you need a to-do list that will help you get moving and change your fate, here you go. Five steps to get you moving again:
1. Ownership. Are you making excuses for what has happened to you? What a waste of time. You may get away with blaming past difficulties on other people or circumstances, but the only person who gets the blame for a dim future is you. That's it. If you've given up, don't blame anyone but yourself. Tough love, Baby. You want out of your nightmare, wake up and get back in the game.
2. Baby steps. If you try to overhaul your life in an instant, you're doomed to fail. I always remember the editor I once worked for who gave up coffee, smoking and went on a diet the same day. Of course that effort ended in failure. You can change some things in an instant, but don't put so much pressure on yourself that you think you have to change your whole life overnight. If you are overwhelmed, break your inertia by taking small steps that will actually move you toward your distant goals. If you take large steps in hopes of speeding up the process, you'll likely find the whole undertaking so exasperating that you give up.
3. Small victories. It's hard to stay in the fight if you get beat up every round. Set some short-term goals and objectives that you can achieve, then celebrate those victories. That lets you enjoy the process and chalk up a few wins so your self-esteem will rebound. If you are job hunting, one small victory could be sending your resume to 10 companies who haven't even advertised positions. Another might be arranging informational networking meetings with influential people who can make a difference. Don't base your success or failure on whether or not you are able to land a new job in six weeks. Base it on how you handle the adversity by planning a course and staying on it.
4. Bettering the product. If you have to re-invent yourself but have no idea what to re-invent into, you are hardly alone. You might have another passion or inkling of where to go next, but if you don't, you can still use this moment to better yourself by learning through networking. Finish your college degree. Work on your master's degree. Join networking organizations. Talk to lots of people about what they do that they love. Read more books. Just keep moving forward. There are ways to bolster your credentials while you are still treading water.
5. Opening your vision. If you pressure yourself to solve every problem today, you may miss out on your true calling. But, you've got to do something with this day. The more you explore, the bigger your list of possible interests grows. You've got to pay the bills, so find short-term opportunities. But, keep your mind open for what you really want to spend your life doing, because that is where you'll find your greatest fulfillment -- and success.
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