Staying Calm In A Financial Crisis
7 secrets to consider if your 401k is plummeting
Posted November 3, 2010
The Dow Jones is whipping up and down more rapidly and more frighteningly than the scariest Giga-coaster (that’s giant roller coaster), the media is whipping up a frenzy of hysteria, and politicians are whipping out their index fingers nastily pointing to their opponents as the cause of it all. Your life savings are dwindling, your plans for a cushy retirement are fading, and a restful night’s sleep has become a thing of the past. Not to worry. You can stay calm when chaos and uncertainty is swirling all around you by:
1. Tune Out. Okay, so it may seem too simple, but what if you just turned off the TV, put your daily newspaper on hold, and stopped checking your portfolio online every 10 minutes? You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel without the steady stream of bad news overwhelming you. And, you don’t have to worry that you’ll miss any “really” bad news, because at least one person you know will call you immediately to find out if you’ve heard.
2. Tune In. There will never be a better time to start using your IGS (Internal Guidance System). It’s like the GPS you use in your car, only better. Your IGS is that deep inner knowing that’s called a variety of names—hunch, intuition, gut feeling, to name a few. You know what I’m talking about. It’s when you absolutely know that you should (or shouldn’t) do something and you do it anyway. Aren’t you always sorry when you don’t listen? So now is the time to start tuning in. Once you’ve stopped listening to all the external noise, tune in to what you need to do for yourself. It’s probably NOT eating a quart of Ben & Jerry’s every night.
3. Stop Blaming. While it may seem perfectly sane to play the blame game, it’s a total waste of time. So what if you think your broker or the Democrats or the Republicans or your evil Aunt Sophie is responsible for the pickle you find yourself in. Does it really matter at this point? Blaming keeps you stuck in the past. Now’s the time to make some good decisions for your future.
4. Stop Playing the Victim. If you need to go to bed for a day with one or more of those Ben & Jerry’s quarts, do it. But set a tight limit to the amount of time you’re going to wallow. “Oh, woe is me” won’t change anything. It’ll just keep you stuck in the lousy feelings.
5. Accentuate the Positive. Now, more than ever is the time to refocus your attention. Move from dwelling and ruminating and worrying about what you’ve lost, to refocusing your attention on all that you have. A simple, daily act of gratitude will work miracles, not only in the way you feel, but in your life as well.
6. Discover the Lesson(s). Yes, there are powerful lessons in this financial crisis for all of us, whether you were heavily invested or not. Perhaps, like many women, you’ve been the proverbial ostrich, leaving it up to your spouse or financial planner to build your wealth. You may be relieved that you never invested in the stock market, because you’re still waiting for the knight in shining armor (or Prince Charming) to come and take care of you. Or, you may have accumulated a lot of really cool stuff over the years, but haven’t secured your financial future because you’re not good at math. Find out what the lessons are and then start?
7. Answer the Golden Question. In every situation that you don’t like, ask yourself, “What’s the opportunity here?” I promise you, there’s always an opportunity. It may be time for you to take charge of your money and learn about investing and managing your wealth, and/or time to build your financial future before the Prince shows up, or uncover what you really value and align your life with that. Oh, and the math excuse? Forget about it. You don’t have to be a mathematician to be a good investor. If you take the time to re-evaluate your relationship with money and learn all that you can, you’ll build a secure future.
Change (good and bad) is inevitable in life. Some you choose, some—like the current financial crisis—is thrown at you. If you allow yourself to be swept along in all the negativity and hysteria, you’ll just be reacting to everything that comes along and you’ll feel yanked and pulled and fearful. If, however, you take charge and become pro-active, you can remain calm amidst the storm. And, you’ll sleep a whole lot better, too!
Lin Schreiber, PCC, is a Retirement Revolutionary who loves helping self-reliant women reinvent themselves in the next stage of life, formerly known as “retirement.” Lin is featured on the PBS series Boomers: Redefining Life After Fifty, and is the author of The ABC‚Äôs of Retiring Retirement. A Professional Certified Coach, Certified Retirement Coach, and founder of Revolutionize Retirement, Lin combines her contagious enthusiasm, nonstop energy, and passion for her subject to create a fun, dynamic learning environment that energizes and inspires her audiences.