You never forget your first recession.
Mine was after 9/11.
(I literally opened an ad agency on September 10th, 2001.)
Next came the 2008 crash. Marketing budgets were slashed. And so was I.
Part of me wishes I’d never had to learn these lessons.
But I did.
And they’ve shaped my life in glorious ways. Painful as these periods of my life were, they led to epiphanies that will forever guide my business and life.
Now embarking into my life’s 3rd recession, I can look back with gratitude, and a profound sense of purpose, at what came out of those difficult times.
I don’t want to sound crass or insensitive, because so many of us experienced crushing loss. Yet these were life-changing periods of growth, with lifelong tangible and intangible benefits.
Could this be your greatest time to move forth? (Counterintuitive, I know. But stick with me.)
I’ll share a few of my lessons with you.
10 lessons I wish someone had told me at the start of my last recessions:
1. Decide what matters.
There’s no one “right” thing you should do right now. (Other than taking care of yourself and your loved ones.)
Decide what matters. Then do it with gusto.
Doing nothing is absolutely fine — if that’s your choice. But make a choice. It’s easy to get baffled, stuck, and motionless.
Is your goal to spend time with your kids? Or spend time nesting, by cleaning and organizing? Or lining up your next big project? Or just do nothing other than Netflix binging?
Awesome. (Hey, no judgment here. Even if your goal is to do nothing, do it 100%.)
Whatever you decide to do — do it full-out. Right now, it’s so easy to do a mish-mash of everything. Then do a whole lotta nothing.
2. Take nothing for granted. Including the bad parts.
During an uncertain time, every single little thing becomes magnified. Losses feel harder. Tiny gains feel bigger.
In these chaotic days, we become exquisitely attuned to the ups and downs of our circumstances because we’re not in control. We take nothing for granted.
And, maybe that's a good thing?
Start to consider the negative aspects of your job that you’re taking for granted.
Rather than assume you’re chained to the negative parts of your job, or being beholden to draining clients, what choices do you have now?
Just as the luxurious perks of your job might fall away, carefully consider how these obstacles could fall away and allow for new beginnings.
We live in a jaded and apathetic world. Not taking anything (or anyone) for granted is a quality worth hanging on to.
3. Refuse to recede.
The word “recession” comes from the verb “to recede.” And “to recede” means to take a step back.
But what if “taking a step back” isn’t necessarily going backward?
If you “take a step back,” you can still move in a different and new direction. Like shifting your career focus slightly. Or connecting with your audience in a new way.
Take a step back, yes. But recede, never.
4. Tap into your street smarts.
The old rules no longer apply.
No longer can you float along and let someone else decide your fate. Nor do you want to.
Now, the reins are firmly in your grasp.
Whether you’re in a company of 1 or 100,000, develop a savvy ability to move forth with resilience.
Don’t count on your company, or your clients, to protect you. They probably want to, but can’t.
YOU can protect you.
An entrepreneurial mindset is not an inborn talent, but a skill. Find it. Learn it. Hone it. Use it.
If you don’t have an entrepreneurial mindset, cultivate one.
Take one small action.
Gradually, when you’re ready… do anything except nothing.
5. Remember who you are.
In 2003, the world still lived in the shadow of 9/11.
Me, I was pregnant. The baby was in danger and I lived in bed.