by Gurukirn S. Khalsa

If you are reading this, then you have been affected by the economic upheaval that is gripping the world. Take a look at the stock market, your 401K (it’s now a 201K), your bank account, your customer count, your client list, your retail sales or your own personal slowdown in spending.

Our economic landscape is changing right before our eyes; it’s an amazing thing to witness. It does not matter how little or how much money we have, we are all paying attention now. I am sure you know someone who has been greatly affected, who has even lost his job or home. Our neighborhoods are filled with “For Sale” and “Foreclosure” signs. Did you think we would ever see those? Homelessness is growing, and homeless campgrounds are sprouting up outside major cities.

On the business side of things, perhaps your sales are down compared to last year, or the phone has stopped ringing. Maybe you are considering laying off some employees, or you just got a pay cut.

Change is the very constant that surrounds our lives. The problem is a kind of helplessness can creep in where we feel like we have no control or cannot create the positive change we so desperately want. Well, it’s time to adjust, adapt and make the changes necessary to face what is real.

What should we do during these challenging economic times?

Here is an answer: Go to the closest mirror, close your eyes and then open them. There is the answer—it’s right there staring at you. Yes, that’s right, the answer is you! You need your own stimulus package. But guess what? Odds are it can only come from the person in the mirror. You have all you need. You can bring about the adaptation, the change that is needed to carry you through this period both personally and professionally. Here are 20 things you can do to become your own stimulus package:

1. Use fear to motivate, get yourself out the door, on the phone, talking and working. Fear of failure can be a tremendous motivator. It has been for me for more than 25 years.

2. Sign up for some extra training in your field. Educate yourself, so you have more to offer. Keep your brain functioning and growing. Invest in yourself. Keep learning.

3. Start or refocus an exercise program. Exercise does not have to be complicated or expensive; all you need are a decent pair of walking shoes. If you are in good health and feel strong, you are better equipped to win the battle.

4. Make a list of the top five things you know you can do—or should do— to help yourself or your business. Prioritize them, and then pick them off one by one.

5. Hang out with smart, positive, successful people. Talk to them, listen, learn and share.

6. Keep a positive attitude, no matter what. This one cannot be overstated in its importance. Use positive affirmations, meditation or positive imagery daily, and make a list of everything you are grateful for.

7. Examine your budget. Make some cuts if you need to, but remember you still have to invest in your future to be successful. Set aside some money for savings.

8. Eat well. Don’t starve yourself or diet, but make some changes if needed. Maybe eat a little less and exercise a little more. The key word to lifestyle sustainability is “little.”

9. Help others. There are so many ways to get involved. Maybe help out a neighbor who is housebound, or volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Sometimes the best way to move beyond your own personal challenges is to help others with theirs.

10. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help. Most people will be more than willing to lend a hand or offer some advice—but you need to let them know you need it.

11. Remember, if you are feeling stressed, your family is also. Spend some quality time with them. Have a night without television, eat a good home-cooked meal and talk or read to your kids.

12. Fact: There are only 24 hours in a day. If you spend one hour wisely, you have just taken care of more than 4 percent of the day. It’s a start!

13. Read an inspiring or motivational book. There are some authors who have shared absolutely incredible ideas and thoughts.

14. Get out of your comfort zone. Sometimes that comfort zone is one of self-pity or complacency. Push yourself a bit. Try something new. Open up your mind to the possibility you just might not have all the answers.

15. Re-examine your business model. Does it need tweaking or a full-scale revamping?

16. Be creative in your thinking. Think outside the box a bit. It’s only a thought. You can break it down and analyze it later, but allow your thoughts to flow—ideally in a direction other than what you are accustomed to.

17. Be easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if things are not how you would like them to be.

18. Don’t forget the power of getting a good night’s sleep. Recent studies are showing how important sleep is to all of us.

19. Take a deep breath, and remember what that feels like. Do it often, and use breath when times get really tough.

20. If none of the above has worked, go back to the mirror, close your eyes and take a good look at your best hope—yourself—again.

My wish is that you can grab onto a few of these suggestions and put them in your daily routine. Embrace the opportunities that surround you, and believe in yourself. Be the light for others to look to in their time of need—and most of all, try to enjoy the ride.

Gurukirn S. Khalsa spent more than 16 years in the natural-foods industry, selling organic and conventional products and visiting organic farms. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Florida and has been a practitioner of yoga, Sikhism and vegetarianism since 1974. He is national sales manager and co-owner of Soothing Touch (www.soothingtouch.com), a manufacturer of massage lotions, oils, gels, scrubs, bath salts, soaps and essential oils, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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