Christmas season has started in Russia, too, although we celebrate New Year first, and Christmas follows in January.
I know many people suffer badly this year in Britain. Some lose jobs, others have to stretch their budget to stay on a healthy diet. I’ve come across this heart-aching article earlier this week – Food for thought by Miss South, which brought back some painful memories of 2008 when I was out of work for some 6 months when recession had first struck. Losing a job was easier than finding one, but we normally only consider the “job hunting” part of the experience to describe how badly we felt. Food and other kind of deprivation is often omitted, whereas it is the inability to eat well (and that’s not packs of Mars bars!) and to socialise and to attend the memorable events that makes one feel the most miserable.
I guess for quite a lot of my compatriots in Britain this Christmas is going to be sad, dull, and deprived of one or another lovely thing. So, based on my experience and reading, this is the advice I’d give to anyone in dare situation:
1. Do not put blame on anybody.
OK, it may be Tory, or better Labour, or even Thatcher, or maybe even the U.S. or God who is the reason why the world (or the UK, or you, for that matter) suffer. You cannot change it. Even if you change the government, you cannot change America or God. Do not blame anyone, this only strengthens your already negative thinking.
2. Find something beautiful in whatever you look at.
In fact, make it a point of your life. There is so much beauty in life that goes unnoticed simply because we always “look up to the sky” and see Titian coupled with Dali and Britney Spears. If you can imagine anything like this, you will agree it’s not beautiful at all. So start noticing beauty around you. It is there, very close to where you are right now. I’ve been looking at the thermoelectric station and a busy road for most of my life, but I never actually saw them. To tell the truth, I saw the English fields, the French castles, and at best – the sci-fi landscapes.
3. You only fail when you’ve stopped learning.
If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to make mistakes. No matter how many wise men prepared you for the journey, it’s a new journey in a new era in a new country in different circumstances. You are bound to fail at least once, so go for it and stop whining.
4. Albert Einstein gave this definition to insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
Enough said. This involves asking some difficult questions. Whether this is about personal relationships or profession, it’s all the same. If you want to change the world, change yourself. Stop expecting a different result from the same thing. It doesn’t work, it won’t, and it shouldn’t. Otherwise everyone could do it.
5. Always look on the bright side of life.
I’ve lost two close relatives, I’ve been out of job, I look after a very elderly Grandma and have to help my disabled mother, and I also have to work. Yes, there are moments when I also wish things were easier and less complex. But most of the time I am grateful for my friends, health, peace in my country and worldwide (most of the time), and all the things I can enjoy. Legion is their name, from art to sport, through science, social disciplines, short-haul travels, and every new experiences, especially if the latter come for free. It’s hard for some (even my mother) to see my point, but the more interests you have, the more opportunities there are – either for work, or for lifting up your mood. As a matter of fact, I was unwell this week, but on Thursday night I’m going to the theatre with my best friend in Moscow. And it’s free.
6. Sex is not the only free entertainment available.
Back in December 2008, the majority of Brits were opting for some bed action as a free entertainment. Already in May it was clear that entertainment brought the most natural results. But it’s instinctive. For the record, I’ve not visited quite a few Russian museums because I got so unused to the idea of paying for the entry, I cannot bring myself to paying the fee, nevermind queuing outside, like they do at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. But in Britain where museums and parks are free, there’s no excuse. This brings you close to 1) Beauty, 2) positive outlook on life, and 3) opportunities.
7. Look for opportunities.
They say recession is the best time to start a business or learn a new skill. The fee is down to your negotiation. When you have the bills to pay and to support your family, negotiating some upfront payment for overwork would be OK for me. Yes, you must then live up to your own promise. The beautiful thing is you never exactly know where this may take you. You may get the job, or you may get the skill and experience, and an even better paid job. To start, just say to yourself “I’m taking every good opportunity”, or such like, and see what happens.
8. Do not wait for the perfect job. Make best of the one you have.
The mistake most of us make is described as “if I were paid more, I’d do more”. This is a typical worker’s attitude who does not count his or her emotional contribution to work. The truth is (and I know it very well) you cannot be successful when your heart is not involved. Remember also that you are getting paid for what you ask. If you ask to be paid for the job you never did, there must be a very good reason for a prospective employer not to turn you down. I knew nothing about PPC marketing when I went to work for Latitude Group, but I knew foreign languages. I could provide them with the skill they needed the most, and in return they taught me and initiated me into the industry, for which I cannot be grateful enough.
On another hand, if you ask to be paid for the actual experience, you will always earn less. This may be a short-term solution, but it’s best not to forget about it.
9. Learn to plan.
This involves both planning your day (week, month, year) and budgeting (i.e. money planning). Recession, being out of work, or just any kind of money difficulty is the best time to learn this important skill. Do you have a diary or a planner? Do you keep it, in that you actually do things you’ve planned? Do you track your expenses? The point is not to kick yourself for spending that extra quid on a pack of Mars bars. It’s about understanding at what point and why you decided to buy the Mars bars and finding a possible substitute to it. But don’t forget that planning underpins the success, so learn to do it now, not when recession ends.
10. Whatever you want to do, can be done here and now.
I recommend you read Essays on Travel by Robert Louis Stevenson:
It’s a mesmerising account of a Scotsman journey aboard a ship to the New World with many other emigrants. A kaleidoscope of characters, with the protagonist’s musings on personal behaviour, makes a brilliant piece of travel writing. Yet this is not all. At one point Stevenson says one important thing: if you want to do something, you can do this here and now. You don’t need to travel to the New World or elsewhere to make a difference. At least you can start here and now. We’re often thinking of the likes of Mikhail Baryshnikov who made it both in Russia and in New York (I’m attempting a pun on the famous song here). What we forget is that Baryshnikov had emigrated when he was already a well-known ballet dancer, not a disillusioned wannabe.
11. Learn any skills that you lack that can help you to manage things better.
This can range from the aforementioned planning to cooking, knitting, sewing, hand crafting – anything that can help you to save or earn money.
12. When Life gets in your way, don’t try to get on with it.
Having your goals and priorities in front of you can help you manage any recession or problem. Different to it, if your goals are vague, it’s easy to fall prey to the momentous pressure. If you have a loving relationship and a good family, the most important thing is to preserve it during the financial downtime. Don’t blame anyone, don’t do the same thing again and again expecting a new result, learn something new together and look for opportunities. Chances are, for you recession will end earlier.
Why, you ask? Because I know that the law of attraction works. The positive thinking can work wonders. And when two or more loving people unite their forces, a brilliant result is guaranteed.
I hope you have a good festive season this year.