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Let Crisis Be Your Teacher

By Valorie Burton
Author and Motivational Speaker "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God ..." —Philippians 4:6

Headlines over the last week, especially economic ones, have many people feeling on edge. Perhaps you've been incessantly checking the balances on your retirement nest egg, or you've avoided taking a look at all. Maybe you have felt the effects in more direct ways – a job loss or a tough time making ends meet lately.

This week, I want to encourage you to do two things: 1) Put things into perspective, and 2) Commit yourself to becoming smarter and stronger as a result of the current economic turmoil. In 2001, an unexpected financial crisis blindsided me. It was the most stressful challenge I had ever faced. I was consumed with thoughts of how to handle it, and frustration that others' irresponsibility would now become my burden. 

But just a few days later, a family crisis eclipsed the financial crisis. While on the phone with my mother, she suffered a massive brain aneurysm – and after emergency brain surgery, it was unclear whether she'd live. Suddenly, my financial crisis seemed quite manageable. I learned that if money can solve your biggest problem, then your problem is surmountable. It forced me to put life into perspective. 

If the current economy has knocked your plans off course, refuse to allow anxiety or anger to rule your decisions. Instead, take a deep breath. Identify the lesson(s) you will take from this experience. Get clear about where you need to go from here. Then commit yourself to doing whatever is necessary to get there – whether that means scaling back expenses, initiating additional streams of income, or sticking to a personal budget for the first time.

In time, the financial crisis that blindsided me in 2001 worked itself out. After two months in the hospital and years of therapy, my mother lived and has regained most of her abilities. I wouldn't be the person I am today without those experiences. They made me stronger, more resilient, and more grateful. I learned what really matters – your faith and your relationships. And I became smarter about protecting myself financially. 

"This, too, shall pass" is an old adage we must remember when life throws a curve ball. But never let a crisis pass without learning lessons that will empower you in the future. Here are a few simple lessons the country's current financial mess epitomize:

  1. Living below your means is not just a good idea. It's insurance against a financial downturn.
  2. Buy what you can afford, even though it may be far less than what you qualify to borrow.
  3. Have a financial cushion. Make it your goal to save at least a few months' expenses and keep the money in a safe, liquid account. Even if this goal takes you a few years to reach, start now!

What lessons is life teaching you from this crisis? It is life's biggest challenges that give you an opportunity to discover the depth of your character. Whatever challenges you face right now, don't give up. In time, you can work through it if you persevere. The key is to course correct where needed, put your situation into perspective, and have faith.

My challenge to you this week:

Put your worries into perspective. Identify one lesson you will implement starting this week that will make you financially stronger and smarter from this point forward. 

Journaling assignment:

What is the biggest lesson you are learning from the current economic headlines? In what way(s) could you take a bigger step toward living below your means? What step could you take toward improving your income and saving habits?

Valorie BurtonA sought-after life coach and speaker, Valorie Burton seeks to inspire people to live more fulfilling, less stressful lives. She is the author of Listen to Your Life, What’s Really Holding You Back?, Rich Minds, Rich Rewards, Why Not You? 28 Days to Authentic Confidence, and How Did I Get So Busy?.

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