4 Steps to turn challenges into opportunities

by Lauren Mackler for Sheer Balance

We're living through challenging times. But inherent in nearly all challenges, are opportunities for renewal and transformation. The current economic crisis offers the chance to re-evaluate how you live your life, to be more mindful and strategic about how you spend money, and to take stock of your values and priorities. Corporate lay-offs can provide the opportunity to find a more meaningful job, transition into a new career, or pursue the dream of starting your own business.

How you respond to crises has a lot to do with the lens through which you habitually perceive the world. If you tend to see the world through a 'gloom and doom' lens, you may be reacting to current events with feelings of fear, anxiety, or a sense of despair or powerlessness. And even if you tend to view things through the lens of optimism, you may be reacting to the constant barrage of negative media messages with milder feelings of concern and insecurity.

Wherever you may be on this continuum of perception and reaction, deliberately shifting your focus to unearth and explore the opportunities inherent in these challenges can help you move from a state of insecurity, powerlessness, or fear into a state of empowerment, inspiration, and action.

Below are some steps you can take to help you make this shift:

1. First, notice how often you expose yourself to the negative messages of the news media. Try to keep your exposure to a minimum, enough to keep yourself informed, but not so much that it's feeding your fear over and over again. Listening to less sensational news media such as NPR can also be helpful.

2. Next, make a list of the ways the current crises are impacting you or your life. For example, "I'm worried I'm going to lose my job", "I have less money to go out to eat", "Sales are down and business is slow", "I've lost 30% of my retirement savings".

3. Now write down the opportunities inherent in each challenge. Using the examples listed above, your opportunities might include some of these:

Challenge: I'm worried I'm going to lose my job.
Opportunity: Get my resume updated and start networking to find that more rewarding and fulfilling job I've been thinking about pursuing for the last two years.
Challenge: I have less money to go out to eat.
Opportunity: Download some new recipes from the internet to expand my cooking skills and start having intimate dinners at home with family and friends.
Challenge: Sales are down and business is slow.
Opportunity: Use this slow time to get my office organized, update my marketing materials, and reconnect with past customers I've had no time call.
Challenge: I've lost 30% of my retirement savings.
Opportunity: Explore the possibility of turning my business into a franchise to build greater wealth.

4. Lastly, recognize that there are some challenges that are simply beyond your control. For those that are - for example, the decreased value of a home you may own - instead of expending energy worrying and complaining about it, turn your attention to those challenges with opportunities you can act upon.

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© 2010 Lauren Mackler - Lauren Mackler is a coach, psychotherapist, and host of the Life Keys radio show on hayhouseradio.com. She's the author of the international bestseller, Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness and Transform Your LifeSpeaking of Success. Sign up for her Live Boldly newsletter at @ www.laurenmackler.com.


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