How 'fight or flight' relates to your financial affairs

Handling Sudden Financial Change

by Cindy Tansin

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Do you know anyone who has recently been through a divorce, lost a job, or suffered some other major crisis? In the past few years, it's hard to find anyone who has not been touched by some form of hardship. There are two types of reactions commonly associated with this. Broadly, they are "fight" or "flight."

The severity of reactions in either direction can vary widely. When faced with a major challenge in life, how you react has a much greater effect on your future than the actual incident itself. Your resolve to not cave in to emotional distress and to take appropriate action is critical to your health and future. Let's look at how this is done.

First, what happens when you are prone to flight? When a situation rocks you to your core, it's really hard to deal with your now mundane and meaningless daily affairs because every waking thought is about the pain you are going through. One way to deflect this is to take time off of work or away from the source of the problem to sort things out and learn to adjust. On the positive side, if you do this before things start to deteriorate, you can salvage your reputation and get the mental break that you need. However, if that break is spent dwelling on your problems and getting deeper into depression and debt, you only make matters worse.

The goal should be to get into fight mode as quickly as possible, as that is the only way to pick up and move on. Chances are that making money is of critical importance in times of trouble. So what are your options?

  1. Get even more serious about your work, especially if it provides an opportunity for higher income (i.e. bonuses, commissions, promotion). Instead of getting sad or mad about your personal situation, get even. Kick some butt at work, and reap the rewards. The challenge of thrusting yourself out of your comfort zone will end up becoming a welcome distraction, and everything positive that results from it will boost you further in your business and propel your recovery.
  2. Change jobs. This may be the best time for you to spread your wings and soar. If you have been playing it safe up until now or not living up to your potential, what's stopping you now? Nothing! Relook at your safe, comfortable job and see if there is something else you can do where a person with ambition and talent can make a killing. I'm not advocating doing anything rash. We want you to get your head back in the game on more solid ground. Make sure any job change is fully vetted and makes sense. But if it gives you greater financial opportunity and is something you can enjoy, go for it!
  3. Find ways to supplement your income by putting together new or additional business ventures. Becoming an entrepreneur could be the best compromise to both situations above. You can continue doing what you are doing, but use your down time (presumably you have more of it now than you did before) finding ways to branch out and grow. There are many ways to do this. Start a new business, write a book, become an investor, get involved in internet commerce, partner with someone with complementary skills. The important thing here is to broaden your horizons expanding on existing skills and interests. Your ideas should be researched extensively through magazines, business journals, meet-up groups, networking, associations, social media, internet blogs, etc. Leave no stone unturned. Each avenue you explore opens up another. The most critical thing is to keep an open mind for practical opportunities. Take your time. Build your ideas and your business one step at a time. Have confidence that it will all start to gel and make sense as you progress forward. And each forward step makes you stronger.

Are you one of the many people heading for debt trouble without knowing it? This simple checklist can help you find out and tell you how to avoid it.

The best therapy for recovery is positive action. Emotional knee jerk reactions and burying yourself in debt or burying your head in the sand because you are experiencing a crisis will cost you dearly in the long run. If you dwell on strong negative feelings like revenge, being a victim, or feeling worthless, these thoughts will lead you down a path of destruction. Instead, be kind to yourself. Understand that negative feelings are normal in the short run. Have them, but then as quickly as possible, let them go. Put your greatest effort and attention into recovery. Staying positive about your future will bring about positive change, as long as you take the positive actions that make those changes possible.

Become a fighter. Fight for your strength, your happiness, and your success. You can do it!

Reviewed May 2017

Cindy Tansin is author of the book Lead With Your Heart and the Rest will Follow. Her expertise is in developing strong leaders and promoting personal and professional growth.

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