“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:
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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