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What Not to Do When the Going Gets Tough

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There have been a lot of stories in the news lately about how people are having a challenging time financially. CNN did a special about how people are living paycheck to paycheck and how the middle class in America (and in most of the developed countries) is disappearing. Oprah devoted an entire show to shedding light on America's poor and, recently, ABC did a series about layoffs at the Ford Motor Company.

While watching these I noticed several things the people profiled had in common. They all seemed to share a sense of helplessness and reacted from fear. This is the worst thing anyone can do in a difficult situation. I've been there and learned, many times the hard way, what works and what doesn't.

One woman, recently let go from Ford with a severance package of $100,000, immediately began cutting back on her expenses, including canceling her Internet and reducing her phone to basic essentials. While reducing expenses is always a good idea, approaching it from fear is not. It was as though she was hoping the money would last longer if she stopped living. This reminded me of the Bible story of the ten talents. You may remember the servant who buried the talents (currency in Biblical times) was criticized for doing so while the one who invested the talents was rewarded.

The problem is that, more than likely, her attention will be on the dwindling money in her bank account and, by virtue of the law of attraction, she will attract more of the same. We once had friends who used to complain about never having any money,even though they were pretty well off financially. Once, just after receiving a sizable refund check, they had to replace the roof on their house, an unexpected expense costing thousands of dollars.

The Universe will deliver whatever you ask for. If you affirm "having no money," circumstances will adjust to make sure this remains true for you, regardless of whether or not it's what you want.

Fortunately, the opposite is also true. I have friends who always affirm having plenty of money and, while they are by no means rich, have had money "magically" appear in time to meet an unexpected expense.

Another woman, let go with 15 months severance was, at the nine month point, still sending her resume in the hopes that, "Ford will want me back." This is not only sad but very unlikely.

To quote Chris Gardner, the subject of the hit movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, "The Calvary is not coming." Whoever you think is going to bail you out is not. We have been conditioned, as a society, to believe that, magically, our company will turn things around and hire us back or, like a knight in shinning armor, the government will ride in and "save the day." As my British friends would say, "Not bloody likely."

What makes these, and the other stories, sad is that had they taken a different, more proactive approach, things could be very different.

In the case of the woman with the $100K severance, she could have seen this as the opportunity it is and invested some of the money while using another portion to buy or start a business or some venture that would pay her an annuity for life.

The woman with the 15 months severance could have been using this precious time to start some kind of business of her own to secure her family against this type of thing happening again.

I'm not suggesting that having your own business is the solution for everyone, however, I am suggesting that people have some control over their lives and having a business provides that. Even if you have a job you enjoy, doing something on the side gives you peace of mind that is not subject to the whims of a giant corporation.

In all these stories, I saw only one man who, while still at Ford, had begun his own snow removal business. He, at least, is taking a proactive role in his own destiny.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not blaming the people nor am I blaming Ford or any other company. They're doing what is necessary to survive. The problem is that we have been led to believe that we will be taken care of by our company or some government agency. While this may have been true a generation ago, it is no longer true in today's global economy.

We are living in challenging times and must decide now to take charge of our own lives and create our own destiny.

Jim Donovan is the author of several books and a sought after motivational speaker. To assist people who want to open their mind to new possibilities, he is offering a complimentary copy of his new ebook, "Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck- Learn to create immediate income now." This new book offers practical and proven ideas you can use to improve your financial situation. Download a copy here:

To learn how you can have Jim deliver his live "Paycheck to Paycheck" seminar for your church group, agency or community, email jim
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Jim Donovan, is the author of several critically acclaimed self-help books, published in more than 20 countries, an inspiring motivational speaker and life coach. For a bonus gift and subscription to his "Jim's Jems" ezine visit his Web site.
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