9 Things to Invest in During Diffcult Economic Times

Jan 11, 2021

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“This [recession, an economic hard time] is the time you invest in the future. It’s in tough times that you build to bring you to a better future.” — Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize winning architecture critic (talking about Penn Station’s reveal in 2021)

The national parks preserved throughout the United States, the Social Security system, even zippers which were a more affordable option than buttons, came into existence because of the Great Depression. Mother is the necessity of invention as the idiomatic saying goes, but it first requires the determination of mind to turn tough times into opportunity for a better tomorrow.

Coming out of the dot.com crash in early 2001, the tech company Apple became what we know it to be today with the creation of the iPod and the rest as they say, is history with new iPhones and iPads presented each year. Equally as notable, in 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen during a time of stifling economic stagflation began what is many argue to be the most successful company of all time – Microsoft.

Opportunity often exists where we initially would least likely expect it to be found. The key is to not close our eyes, and while keeping them open, look for possibility. More specifically, look for where there is a need not being met. From something as simple as taking advantage of the low APR rates to refinance your home mortgage in order to reduce your monthly bills permanently, to using the quiet multitudinous downtime at home to create a new invention the world has revealed is needed yet not available.

Difficult times in the world, the country we call home, or in our personal lives provide us awareness to examine ourselves. When we take the opportunity to realize we are and need to be a student of our own lives, we make the lesson easier to learn and the journey forward far more clear, as well as a tomorrow that is brighter. (Listen/read episode #143 to learn about the benefits of self-awareness.)

From a place of true self-awareness, we can then become more aware of the world around us as we apply critical thinking, dive deeper into the ‘why’s’ of what is happening, thereby leading us to see solutions to conflicts, problems, and pain. We may not have the answers at the onset of the realization, but we now know where to place our efforts and energy until we do.

Upon experiencing a difficult time, a natural desire may be to return to the way it was – to return to ‘normal’ – as we heard uttered frequently in the early months of the pandemic in 2020. However, as the pandemic and social unrest woke us up to the pain long waiting to be truly seen and understood in order that a culture might change and be healed, it became clear – to return to ‘normal’ would be to ignore the lessons learned.

Epiphanies occur unexpectedly. Some during fine and good times of our lives and others during difficult times. Either way, epiphanies happen because we are open to receiving them. We are open to learning, exploring, not accepting what is and searching because we know improvement can be made.

For example, I would be willing to guess, many people’s lives in 2022 will have undergone chosen change of lifestyle, routine or/and even job and relationship status in such a way they would unimagined or at least not seriously entertained pre-pandemic in early 2020. Undoubtely, there will be much unchosen change – loss that is immeasurable – but if we are so fortunate to have kept our livelihood and good health during this time, we have been given a front row seat to what truly is necessary for a life of true contentment. Hopefully we took that seat. Hopefully we watched (even if we had to take self-care moments from time to time – count me in that group as admittedly, this past year has been full of intensity), and hopefully we then took the time to examine ourselves and the life we actually want to live.

The taking the time for examining ourselves, followed by stepping away from the world to make sense of what we learn and THEN finding the courage to apply it for a better tomorrow is vital for making the most of difficult times.

How to invest in your future during difficult times:

  • Invest in skills you lack or wish to strengthen (potentially work-related: technical skills; or life-related: cooking, communicating). Currently, I am taking classes on Masterclass for writing, cooking, and many other topics, as well as reading more gardening books and exploring new recipes in the kitchen. Additionally, for the soft skills I need an expert’s help with, I am scheduling time with my counselor. TSLL’s 2nd book shares in detail skills to learn or improve for a life of fulfilling true contentment – seek out the chapters focused on building your toolbox.
  • Invest in your business now – reach out to businesses – some may be thriving, but likely some are doing what they can to stay strong – give them your business – both you and they will benefit.
  • Invest in a quality life – be honest, what is working? what is unnecessary? what stress has temporarily been removed, but will return when the vaccine has been distributed, and you are realizing it was seriously affecting the quality of your life? Have the courage to leave it out of your life permanently.
  • Invest in the community that matters – some of us find our community – the one that accepts us for who we are and supports us as we travel along being our best selves – within our family, some within our friends, some at work, often a combination of many different areas of our lives. However, sometimes we think we’ve found a community that we are connected to, but as difficult times reveal, we actually are not. Be honest about what you have learned regarding where your true community lies, and reinvest wisely – pulling your time and energy away from those who are not worth the investment so that you can give more to those who are.
  • Invest in better management of your mind – what you think about yourself and your capabilities will signiciantly determine how you weather difficult times. To be clear: you are capable and you can do far more than you realize. 😌 (Listen/read episode #20 – How to Be the Master of Your Mind.)
  • Understand this economic truth: It’s harder to make money during good economic times. Such an axiom seems contrary, but as business writer Tim Denning for CNBC and Business Insider shares, during good economic times, “Everybody is calm and believes in what they’re doing. When the economy goes in the other direction, perfectly smart people start to doubt themselves, panic, be overcome by fear, and take radical actions that they haven’t thought through. This change in mindset is where the hidden opportunities come from”, which is why we need to remember to invest in the mastering of our minds 🙂 along with understanding this truth which will remain for many people until the skill is acquired.
  • Invest now and understand you will need patience to see your brighter ‘tomorrow’. Microsoft did not immediately become what we know it today. In fact, the initial idea took four years, and even then, it took time and ardent belief and commitment by its founders. The key to understand is to use the window of time gifted to us in difficulty to think, understand and create. What I began in 2009 during the Great Recession (TSLL blog) did not become what it is in 2021 quickly or without continued commitment. Even during our current economic recession, I am examining what I can improve, change, eliminate, add, etc., largely because I realized the power of such time to think and examine from my first experience 11 years ago.
  • Invest your time. I have shared at different times here on the blog and in my first book how for the first two years of my blog’s life I blogged every day of the week, waking up regularly at one or two in the morning to write posts which would go live two-a-day sometimes, but always at least one a day. Yes, I expending a tremendous amount of energy, but I didn’t feel drained as much as I would have. I reveled in it. While it wasn’t sustainable, it was necessary to build the foundation. Be willing to invest your time, your energy to what you believe in in order to construct a foundation that will last.
  • Invest in the better tomorrow for humanity. If you have the good fortune of not feeling directly economic pain during this time, give where it is needed or would be put to good use for a better tomorrow. Whether to help a friend or family member who is struggling, whether to help a local business, or support a political issue or candidate who can make the change you wish to see in the world, if you are so fortunate to have extra funds during difficult times, you are not throwing it away by giving it away. You are investing in a better tomorrow.

Choosing to see difficult times no matter when they arise in our lives and our world is a choice, but I would argue not only a smart choice, but a necessary choice. Life will always include from time to time difficult periods, but they need not be devastating if we know how to navigate well through them.

One of the many gifts I learned about my own life journey during the past ten months is that it will now always include gardening. For 41 years it had not, even after seeing my mom gardening terrifically and exhaustedly albeit with great joy my entire childhood. As mentioned above, reading about gardening has filled many hours this past year, as well as the gardening itself, and this past weekend, I spent the afternoon with my gardening notebook, my seed packets and their instructions planning out when each will be sowed, planted out and expected to mature. No doubt things will go unexpectedly, but I am giving it my hearty all-in effort. And it fills me with great joy to do so. A joy I didn’t know could be savored until the pandemic occurred.

Choose to learn and apply the lessons as a way of investing in a brighter tomorrow because indeed, it is possible.

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9 thoughts on “9 Things to Invest in During Diffcult Economic Times

  1. Yes, to return to ‘normal’ would be to ignore the lessons learned. I agree with this a lot!
    I can’t count how many times I hear people say they can’t wait for things to return to normal. I hope for a new normal where we all go at a slower more intentional pace, and thoughtfully put our energies into more meaningful things.
    Have a wonderful day in Bend Shannon!

  2. I am a brand new TSLL subscriber and couldn’t agree more with your insights on managing difficult times. We have so much more power over the lenses we use to see the world than we imagine. I have found this time to be one of growth, and serenity— but my heart goes out to all who are devastated by loss.

    So far, although I have come to embrace many of your philosophies as I grow older (I’m 60) you’ve inspired me to read both your books, dive deep into the website and other TSLL offerings, and I’m enjoying new linen sheets (thanks for the tip on the sale!) and brushing up on my French for a cycle trip this fall through the Champagne region with a couple days in Paris! Merci beaucoup!

    Now for a gift for you: two books/authors I am certain you will love and which I did not see any mention of on your website.

    The first is MFK Fisher, a pioneering food writer from CA who went to Europe and lived an amazing life there for a woman of her time (1908 -1992). She is a luminous writer and you will be enchanted with her body of work from France. I would buy The Art of Eating which contains 5 works, and then you may explore further. Julia Child was a fan.

    The second is by the food writer and critic, Amanda Hesser. The Cook & the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside. It is a memoir of her time as a chef for a family in the French countryside. She has to befriend the seemingly surly Monsieur Milbert, the estate gardener, in order to utilize his wonderful seasonal offerings. The book is the story of the journey of their friendship, divided by month with seasonal, French recipes she cooks along the way. It is a trifecta of great food writing, gardening lore, and a beautiful story of a lifestyle that is disappearing.

    Thank you for all, so delighted we met!

    Amy

    1. Amy,

      Your cycling trip sounds like a dream. What a lovely goal to get excited about. 🙂
      And thank you immensely for the recommendations! I have found and enjoyed MFK’s books (and need to read more of them – thank you for the reminder), but I had not heard of Amanda Hesser and now am most excited to explore her writing. Thank you tremendously! 🙂

      I am so tickled you are enjoying what you found here on TSLL and I do hope you enjoy the books. Wishing you all the best. xo

    2. Hi Amy B,

      Have you read Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr? If not, I thoroughly recommend 🙂

        1. Isn’t Provence, 1970 a gem! Oh, and the final chapter I think is my favorite, perhaps it is just the last couple of pages. Such a lovely ending, bittersweet, but lovely all the same as it is filled with memories. Thank you for your recommendation. 🙂

  3. Thank you for this reminder to invest in ourselves as much as the economy.
    I am 100% with you in having gained the joy of gardening. I’m very much learning, but with resources via my GW subscription, numerous books and advice from from my mum, neighbour and other talented gardeners I know, i hope to see some real development this year. I enjoy following your gardening journey and hope to see more posts this year.
    Sarah

    1. I too hope to share more. 🙂 I am so excited for this year in the garden. Such a delightful hobby and one that brings joy during the journey and when the flowers and vegetables finally reach their peek – not only for the gardener but those who see or enjoy the food as well. 🙂 Thank you for sharing all that you have about your journey into the garden.

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