Monday, March 30, 2009

Now Is the Time for All Good Men & Women... think about what they would most like to be doing. Some people have time to think about this because they are out of work or retired. Others have to dream in small intervals between their many daily tasks. Use the Internet as a great big Dream Machine. With zero or very little up-front cost, you can set up a blog or a web site and present yourself to the world as whatever it is that you would like to be. Then, you can search the web for the additional knowledge that you would need to be that new identity, and you can communicate to or with others in that field. For instance, if I were to pull out of the air a desire to be a chef specializing in Chinese food with a Mexican twist to it, I might set up a blog or a web site called Chinexico. Then I could study both Chinese and Mexican cooking and test out some recipes such as Sweet and Sour Tamales, or Egg Rolls with Flour Tortilla wrappers. If the recipes turned out to work well, I could publish them on my site, try writing a new Chinexican cookbook, or open a specialized restaurant that someday might turn into a chain of such places. This particular dream might not be too farfetched, because tortillas and egg roll wrappers and mu shu pancake wrappers are all quite similar. Some Chinese restaurants use very hot peppers in their cooking as do Mexican restaurants. Both ethnicities use rice (arroz)...You can try out your dream in any category you want, but you will probably need a twist on what is already available in order to make your innovation something special and something about which you can get to know more than most others. This approach gives you a fun enterprise which could turn out to have some economic or at least self-confidence value. It also might turn out to be something that is worth noting on your resume as you look for new work. If you are out of work and looking for a new position, this exercise will give you something useful to say that you have been doing since leaving your last job. It is easier to land a new job if you haven't had a long empty period since your last one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Write Right Now

Why do writers write? There are many more reasons for writing than there are for publishing. Writing is an enterprise and an adventure and a chance for immortality. Some people make money from their writing, but most do it for other reasons. I admit to several motivations. I want to leave some trace of my existence and thought processes behind after I have gone on to whatever lies beyond life on earth. I find that I think differently when I write down my thoughts and have to make each new sentence have some logical relationship to the one that preceded it. I want my children to understand the part of me that I have never explicitly expressed. I want to create something that wasn't there before. I want to record and appreciate history.

If you are among the many thousands of people who have found themselves without a job during this economic downturn, consider the possibility that your period of unemployment could be a valuable opportunity to try something new and different. Rene Descartes said, "I think. Therefore, I am." All of your life you have had your own unique perspective on the world. Nobody else sees the world through your eyes. Here is your chance to do something special with your time of unemployment, rather than drifting through it just waiting and worrying. For at least one hour each day, sit down with pen and paper or laptop and write something. Your writing might take the form of letters, or poems, or remembrances to share with your children. You may choose to make it part of your job search by using it to network with others. You may even find it to be something so pleasurable that you will want it to continue after you are back in the working world. For most of our working lives we are tied to the details and objectives of our jobs. Don't look now, but you are free to think and write about anything you want. Go and create.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Upward

This morning, we finally made it out of winter and into spring. I think that I've seen enough indicators to be cautiously optimistic that the economic trends are springing upward too. The stock market is a leading indicator, and it has started to look mildly but consistently positive. I have been to car dealers where I have seen more people at least looking. I have seen a few "Sold" signs on houses and more realtors bringing potential customers for house tours. There are even some repaired potholes on my neighborhood streets (Some, but nowhere near all of the holes are repaired.). I know a lot of people who are taking major spring break vacations with their kids, and companies are again sending people on business travel. Smaller local banks are lending, and companies are extending credit terms. The big remaining obstacles are the major banks and insurance companies getting liquid again. The stockbrokers should be doing well because they make as much from a trade in a downward market as they do from a trade during a market gain. So, let the sun shine in and warm things up gradually.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Don't Play the Blame Game

The latest news clips as we try to get out of the economic downturn have President Obama starting to be more vocal about blaming President Bush for the economic mess he inherited, while the Republicans are criticizing President Obama for signing a budget bill that contained lots of "earmarks". It is true that President Bush kept saying that the basics underlying the economy were sound and robust when they weren't. It is true that when Barack Obama was campaigning for President, he said that he would not tolerate "earmarks" if elected. Nevertheless, the important thing is for everyone to work together to get us from where we are now to where we want to be with the economy. President Bush felt that he had to say good things about the economy, because saying bad things might have made it even worse. President Obama felt that the pragmatic thing to do was to accept the earmarks this once so that the budget would go through in a timely fashion, and then work on rules to prevent them in the future. Whenever you have a problem, don't look to blame someone for having caused it. Instead, use all of your resources, human and otherwise, to develop steps for solving the problem and getting from where you are to where you want to be.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Davidson's Doctrine Applied When You Are Uncertain

When a decision has to be made within a relatively short time span, whether it is to be made by an individual or a group, the worst thing you can do is dither or vacillate about it. Lead, follow, or get out of the way. You always have the default option of not doing anything. However, once you decide that a decision has to be made that will move you away from your present situation, some action is required. Davidson's Doctrine can be applied: Select any possibly acceptable option and assume that you have already made that decision. Determine what the first few procedures are along that path, and take a few simple steps in that direction while you are still behaving as though no change has been made. Consider all of the implications of this assumed decision. Think about cost, effects on other people and events, what people will think of you for having selected this choice, whether making this decision will lead to other required decisions. If you are comfortable with the implications of this assumed decision, go ahead and make it an actual choice. If some of the implications bother you, assume that you have made an alternate choice, and see if it is acceptable. The decision only needs to be comfortable and acceptable for you. It does not have to be the optimum choice. If no choice feels comfortable to you, take the default option, and wait a while before you again consider a change. Doing nothing is OK when doing something will not produce a comfortable and acceptable result.