Coping versus Creating

  • Are you protecting what you have rather than reaching for something greater?
  • Are projects that were once delightful and interesting now an effort?
  • Are you wondering if it is just you? If you’ve lost your groove?

Well, I’m here to say that it ain’t you, it’s the times we’re living through. Success strategies now are different from before and I’m turning my own ship into this new wind as fast as she will go. Your Money or Your Life was once seen as an early retirement strategy – now I’m teaching it as a pathway to resilience and resourcefulness in changing times.

Coping is hunkering down. Creativity is stepping up. Same situation, different response and different experience. So it’s good to face whatever facts we can find – and then find ways to continue on a creative path.

Here’s what we’re up against. The prolonged recession where only the rich seem to be getting richer is chipping away at optimism and willingness to risk in the direction of our dreams. Our houses – once in theory investments – are now a place to live at best. Starter homes are now forever homes. Retirement is a receding horizon. Before our jobs were stepping stones on a career path or security for our families. Now we’re lucky to have them and wondering how to help those who don’t. Graduate degrees aren’t guarantees anymore. Sure, some are flourishing, but it’s less obvious which stepping stone is solid and which one will leave you stranded.

I do sound like the Old Philosopher. His list of mishaps is so tragic it’s funny, but he then breaks into “Keep your head up high…show the world… never give up, never give up, never give up that ship.”

I published 10 strategies for resourcefulness (and there are more) a while back – the ones I teach (and will teach at Schumacher College May 31-June 4). They arise from the Your Money or Your Life approach – and it can help now.

Certainly those of us who applied this approach in our lives – even as others rode the bubbles of the 90’s and 00’s– are darn glad we have some level of financial security. Even if you aren’t there, knowing there is this pot of “enough” at the end of the storm is reassuring – you can get there too.

Financial security could be just having perspective on that part of our minds that has melded with the aspirations of the consumer culture. That makes it easier to say “so what” when the voices in our heads compare us with the millionaires on TV, easier to release possessions that once possessed us.

Financial security could be not having debt. The ultimate debt relief.

Financial security could be having savings that were for a rainy day – and it’s raining.

Financial security could be having an income from our investments that meets our basic needs.

Let me tell you, I am relieved to be in this situation and know that whatever luxuries I’ve piled on the essentials, I have a long way I can “cut back” without bleeding a drop.

(Just a note – people have applied these steps in other recessions. It’s not hopeless because you aren’t there now.)

But financial security is also resourcefulness no matter whether you have any of the above.

  • Are you stuck in thinking you only have 2 options?
  • Are you so surprised by what isn’t happening that you’re like discouraged unemployed – no longer looking?
  • Are you ignoring what’s staring you in the face because it ain’t what you’re looking for?

These are states begging to be re-sourced.

The first step is celebration – which seems like it should be the last step. Don’t we celebrate when we get what we want? Well, considering we’re alive and resourced enough to be reading this blog post, we’ve already gotten a lot of what we wanted in the past. Attention to what we do have boosts the psychological immune system. It boosts optimism. We recognize our power to create, not just cope. That’s not the whole journey. It’s not positive thinking. It’s recognizing the evidence of resourcefulness in your life as a platform for creation. It stimulates what we need to succeed in these times.

As I said, I’m teaching this at Schumacher College in the UK and hope you will join me.

Next post: how I’m being resourceful with selling my old “family” house.




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