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It was the best of times and well, the best of times, to borrow from Charles Dickens. It was the Age of Excess.
During the Age of Excess, generally from the 90s until recently, people were able to buy their dream home in upscale neighborhoods without even having to say how much they earned every month. This worked out fine until the recession arrived and the fiscal burden of a mortgage that could no longer be afforded was unable to be escaped. People maxed out their high-limit credit, their spirit and their relationships.
During the Age of Excess, people became so bored with their lives, they gathered by the millions in front of their plasma and big screen TVs, fascinated, to watch someone else’s reality of sexual escapades, expensive lifestyles and convoluted dramatic relationships. Millions worldwide were mesmerized by programs where they could watch overweight people lose weight and cry or fight on camera, or where people of various backgrounds walk around naked and have sex, fight, and play games with each other on camera while being thrown together in a house on a tropical island. They knew more about and cared more about the dramatic lives and relationships of a high school/early college girl and her friends from the wealthy beachside towns, than about world news and current events. In fact, these shows became their version of current events. It became more important to watch people fighting to lose weight each week or struggling to be chosen as the favorite of a potential spouse than it was to meaningfully communicate with family or friends
It is not surprising that during the Age of Excess people were massively absorbed into the fantasy of reality TV and could not or would not read books. Spirituality and spiritual balance (I am not speaking of religion and church attendance) dwindled as people looked only or primarily to external things to bring them joy and peace. While poverty is not a sign of holiness, spirituality or moral superiority, excessive greed is also not a substitute for peace and joy.
But now we live in an era that is the New Normal.
Under the era of the New Normal, the current recession has had immediate effects on people’s lives in many ways, from foreclosures and unemployment to having less money for basic living necessities (food, shelter, transportation and healthcare). People are now stuck with the houses they bought to flip or bought to live in with insufficient income and sketchy mortgage loans that should never have been made. Forecasters say it will improve some over the next years to come but even after the economy begin to improve the current situation will be burned into the collective and individual psyche of the masses. That leads one to ask, what long-term changes will remain?
Under the New Normal, as the economy bottoms out and recovers, what’s going to happen to the American Dream? Will our goals and values be changed permanently? Is bling-bling, Bellini, BMWs and Botox a fading memory? In increasing numbers people are realizing they must re-evaluate their core values and return to a simpler life.
People found the economic crisis slammed not only the purse but relationships and spirits. They are fighting for financial stability, relationships and meaningful connections with the people in their lives, and for spiritual peace and hope.
SNAP! – Strategize, Network, Act, Prioritize
Now that we are beyond the Age of Excess and into the era of the New Normal, how to you make the most of life? How can you bounce back from the losses and challenges? How can you position yourself so that you find a place of balance and positive outcome? It’s a SNAP.
That is, the answer to living well in the New Normal era is in learning to Strategize, Network, Act, and Prioritize. You can remember this as SNAP, but I will briefly explain the steps in a logical order.
Setting priorities is a very valuable skills and one necessary for anyone to succeed at goals. You must know what you want in order to have what you want. Most people go through life not know in what they want and they manifest all sorts of things (including many things they do not like) because they do not know what they want. In a world that has turned upside down and run amok financially affected all areas of life, it is vital to decide what you want. People undoubtedly know the matrix has shifted. It is now very clear to everyone that our global and individual situation have been transformed. Our individual, family, work and global relations have changed. We must take responsibility to consciously decide what we want and what we do not want, what we can afford and what we cannot afford.
How do you do this?
First, divide your life into three important categories: family and friends, career, and persona finance. Set a 10-15 year goal. Decide what you would like to accomplish in that timeframe, in each area. Do this with a hopeful mindset so you can be realistic but not undercutting your dreams. The only way you will achieve what you desire is to ask God/The Universe for it.
Second, set goals for the next five years in these three areas and prioritize them. Balance the consequences, the reality of achieving them and the trade-offs of not having everything in that timeframe. Time is, in fact, important, because you must decide how much you can realistically do in three years. Put the most important things at the top of your list.
Now that you have set your priorities you must strategize so you can reach your short-term three-year and long-term 10-year goals. This means balancing your spiritual life, family and friends, your career, and personal finances. Have patience with yourself and keep your goals in front of you. Knowing what you want, you can eventually reach your goals. Stop putting out fires by focusing on the daily little things to the exclusion of your goals. You can eventually Taking the long-term view is spiritual life. Once you set your priorities, you need a plan. Take small steps each day that have something to do with your goals. If you do not, you cannot blame anyone but yourself. It is not the fault of the children, or your partner/spouse or the plumber who did not come. Decided how you will make a move toward you goals and get moving on your plan.
In the New Normal, you must participate in life in order to have a life. You must be active in order to achieve your goals. You have prioritized them and strategized about how to reach them. Now it is time to actively take responsibility in your life to make things come true. You cannot sit and watch the television and find answers in other people’s fabricated realities or weight-loss, exhibitionist sex and extreme exercises. You cannot find the answer fooling around in role-playing games and hanging out in chat rooms. You must play the game of life. Other people cannot live your life for you. You are also not other people and “keeping up with the Joneses” is a losing game. Stop following others like an idiot. If you are struggling every month to pay your two mortgages, it is not intelligent or wise to buy video games, Wii’s, laptops, big screen TVs, expensive cuts of meat or a new SUV. Be yourself, stop trying to compete for materials good and outward appearances. Get yourself balanced spiritually, and get active in doing what it takes to reach your goals.
This is related to acting in that in the New Normal you would do well to make authentic connections with your family members, friends and people who could help you professionally and personally. Make time to be with your family doing something where you get to know one another better and enjoy one another at least twice a week. Take the time to talk, really talk with friends or people you want to be your friends, for an hour or two each week. Don’t fill the conversation with what you bought recently or what you saw on a television show. Don’t compete. Share. Talk with long distance friends for free on instant messenger. Share what is happening in your life and take time to encourage one another. Join the social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook and make significant use of them to make the acquaintance of people who could get you a job or know of someone else with a job, if you need employment or a career change.
To your success!