Ok. I hear you. Let us call it a slowdown. A milder and more agreeable term for the current state of affairs. Business is slowing down, liquidity is tight, credit is not easily available, and risk appetite is low. In a nutshell, a widespread state of confusion. If some intervention is not taken externally then we may actually slip into a Recession. I hate to use the ‘R’ word because it evokes negative feelings in everyone.
I am not an expert or professional economist, in that I don’t practice making predictions on economy based on data. And it is also not my intent to predict any such dreaded phase.
Of late, I have met many people who are comparing the current situation to a pre- 2008 scenario. Clearly, we have not forgotten 2008-09 crisis. It is fresh in our minds. At least, an average person in the job market has not forgotten it. The jury is still out if those who run the financial system had learnt any lesson from last time.
It is my sole aim to share my ideas on how one can plan and prepare (which means take some actions and not just think) if such an event were to recur.
Recession is defined usually as a period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters. It is accompanied by a fall in confidence among capitalists, industrialists and consumers, whether to spend or to invest heavily for future.
Gradually, the energy of growth and positive sentiment from previous few years, starts to “Recede”. Sometimes there are landmark events that accentuate an already fundamentally weak economic condition or there is just a gradual downturn due to over production. In many ways, it is a natural method of course correction.
Slowdown or downturn should be seen as a ‘Recess’ between two periods. A time to pause and reflect. Time to reflect upon what is truly important to you in life. Most of us are just busy in the rat race of acquiring lot of material wealth, and mostly it is at the cost of our relationships, health and losing sight of our real goal in life.
Let us see what we can all do to plan ahead and mentally prepare. Some of the ideas shared below may be useful.
Let us accept this. It is a reality. Business cycles have to go through periods of highs and lows. It is inherent to humans to think that good times can last forever. Nothing lasts forever (perhaps diamonds do… but the diamond merchants are hit by recession first and hard). Sooner we accept that a slowdown is imminent, our inbuilt defence mechanism gets active. It is our survival instinct. Something, human race has learnt from thousands of years. It is in our DNA. Your inner voice will guide you on what is the right thing to do for you. There is no better guide than your own inner voice. If you simply look to others for advice, it will be second hand. They can never know your complete situation. Your strengths, your weaknesses, your financial state, your fears, your liabilities and many other aspects. Use your ‘Inner voice’ to guide you. Now the question arises as to How to hear the inner voice. It is a path on its own. For Starters, Let us say the fastest way to hear your inner voice is “Solitude”. Spend time alone in an unfamiliar place or just lock yourself in a hotel room without books and TV. Just look out of the window. Be quiet. You will get an insight.
The surest way to help yourself come out of a negative frame of mind is by lifting someone else’s spirits. You will be surprised how by making someone else happy, you will also be benefited instantly. Let me share a small example I read recently. We have all heard that sunflowers turn their faces towards the sun. They follow the sun from East to West. In short, they get their dose of Happiness or energy from the Sun.
However, something that you may not have heard is what happens to the flowers when it is overcast and there is no Sunlight available during the day. Take a guess. No. let me share with you, they look at each other. They feed from each other’s positivity. There is a lesson in it for all of us.
Two to Tango
Make Partnerships with your colleagues and co-workers. Share the business results and success together. It is very important that we find our best friend at work. When you stand shoulder to shoulder with another, you are likely to help each other. Collaboration is your best option always.
Cut the flab
If times of slowdown and downturn wish to teach us one thing, it is to cut the flab. Eliminate all expenses that you can do without. Especially if it is an ostentatious one, undertaken to impress others. Those we wish to impress are always people that we do not like in the first place. Why waste one’s money and resources and mind-share for such people. Practice some minimalistic living. As an experiment, you may do it now for a month. You will be amazed with your own results. Care: Do it to yourself first before forcing it down on your loved ones.
Cutting the flab should also be taken literally. Take a look at yourself in the mirror. If those shapes around the belly are not what you intended, it is perhaps a good time to work on your health as well. Exercise will invariably keep your spirits high and keep you positive throughout the day. Only in a positive and alert mind, do great ideas come. Look for cheaper ways to lose flab online, I am not suggesting that you take most expensive Gym membership immediately.
Japanese people have this custom of OSOJI. They declutter their wardrobes and closets every year to see what they do not need. It has multiple benefits. One, you realise your wasteful expenditure pattern. Two, you could generate good karma by donating items of use to the needy and destitute. Three, the more decluttered your physical space is, the more your mind will be decluttered as well.
Re-imagine your Business
Times were good and sales were increasing. We could do nothing wrong. But hey, winter is coming. It is time to reimagine your approach and business model again. May be consumer tastes are changing or they need a new alternative as well. Everyone will be impacted by a downturn and most people will find it difficult to stay happy.
Especially a mind that looks for happiness externally, wants to try new things. Because the old ways are too boring. Time for a new launch! Crazy as it may sound, but you have to put your customer in the centre again. You may have lost touch with him/her. Go back to basics. Work on the product again, not just the packaging. Increase service standards. It is imperative to retain customer loyalty. People flip immediately during recessionary times and customer attrition is usually high.
The old you is also boring. If you want to live this life to the fullest, then live many lives in one. Change or transform yourself every 10 years. Following are some of the ideas, you may choose from below or make your own list. I am only going to influence your thought process:
Pick up a hobby: Something you have delayed for many years. It may be learning a musical instrument, or preparing to run marathons or trekking. You will have to make time for it. Cut down on weekend partying or incessant binge on Netflix and social media.
Inculcate a good habit: Yes, I may sound like a school teacher. But we are all taking it too easy. All Good habits have to be inculcated and worked upon. Bad habits are like weed that grows without any effort or nurturing. It is only when you are growing that fine grass in your lawn that you realise it needs some nurturing and care. You may resolve that you will not hurl abuses at any rowdy driver on the roads, or that you will rise early every day or that you will eat your lunch in 30 minutes very slowly and mindfully. Basically, whatever it is that your spouse has been telling you for many years now. Pick up one and surprise her. Yes, this tip is for Men J
It has been a rather long post. But I hope I succeeded in poking you to think and reflect. Recession is at the end of the day a State of mind. It needs to get out of your head first. It takes one guy sometimes to break the chain. Let that person be you. Share this post with others those who may have suffered or are yet to suffer it for the first time. Business cycles are increasingly becoming shorter and shorter. Wonder why? Because history repeats itself for the Unaware. We are not learning lessons and becoming more and more impatient. For another time!
Love and Peace,
Disclaimer: The author works as a financial advisor in India. The views expressed here are completely his own and are a collective wisdom of numerous humans that co-exist or existed before the author. The author claims no right of originality of ideas but would like to assert the right to his style of writing. There is no intent to hurt anyone's sentiments with his opinions. It is just an honest expression by the author to help anyone who may be benefited from his writings. And a medium to express his gratitude to all who contributed to bless the author with wisdom.