The Luxuries of a Recession

Hint: it’s not firing your nanny so you can afford Botox. In my latest column to hit the newspaper, I ask you to look around to see what’s changed in your day since the sales started to tumble.

A recession seizes many luxuries; time is not among its casualties. In our scramble to monitor the market, save the cash and replace the job, we overlook the one shinning emerald in the bleak economic outlook; our frenzied schedule slows with the Gross National Product. Incoming orders grind to a halt, checkout lines dwindle to a trickle, and companies offer pink slips, or time-off, without pay.

What we choose to do with our sudden abundance of seconds could predict where we will be standing when the recession finally melts into our next economic upswing.

We were cautioned to choose a career based on logic, prudently casting aside interests that generated passion, but little cash. We packed our hobbies away in the attic, and pursued the education and contacts we’d need to advance our careers. Now those livelihoods once considered financially stable are on shaky ground. So, we ask, “What opportunities are left lurking around in our attics?”

Our city boasts about our heroes who turned passion into career: Cameron Mitchell’s love of food and people created the restaurants; he also went 14 months without a paycheck. Cheryl Krueger used her grandmother’s recipe to open Cheryl & Co; she worked two jobs to cover expenses. At 9, R. L. Stine wrote joke books; he sat down and wrote. Hard work comes easier when we’re sacrificing for passion.

Sometimes, our hobbies help us immediately. One man found his current job not from his business contacts, but rather from a member of his Sunday morning cycling team. A company the man would never consider if not for his bike.

Doing a bit of what you love brings joy. When the stock market plummets, happiness is a scarce commodity. Customers buy in the shops with the friendly staff; employers hire, and keep, the people with enthusiasm. Happiness is our edge in a recession.

Maybe hobbies keep us enthused because they allow us to tap under-utilized parts of our brain, so we think more creatively. Albert Einstein would play his violin while he pondered mathematical problems, until he would shout, “I’ve got it.”

Passions draw out our strengths, and even our weaknesses benefit. When Shaquille O’Neal improved his play under the basket, (his strength) his free throw percentage (his weakness) jumped from below 50 to 70 percent. Incidentally, when he tried to exclusively improve his free throws, his percentage points barely moved up at all.

Pursuing your passion will certainly raise your endorphin levels, and maybe give you the inspiration to turn those apples in your refrigerator into four warm bowls of applesauce; or to clean out the basement and sell your treasures. You’ll not only generate revenue, the new space may lead you to see opportunities you never realized existed before.

A recession brings us more time; and more time can mean more freedom. Now, maybe you can no longer do what you should do; but maybe you can do what you want to do. Need inspiration? Check out the class offerings at your local Parks & Recreation Department.

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2 comments to “The Luxuries of a Recession”
  1. I saw your piece in the paper last week. It was great. Certainly makes you really think. But, I’m not really sure I have more time…any way I can get a recession to get my laundry done?? haha

  2. I was moved by your article today “Economy’s down, but time’s still plentiful.” Just in my own personal attitude of looking at the glass half full, I was pleased with your approach and insight into looking for the good in this economic situation. Then I got to the end of the article and what did you plug? – public Parks and Recreation Departments. I just had to take the time to say thank you and let you know I cut this article out and posted it on the staff bulletin board. Keep up the positive words, I know they will help us all.

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