Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Is Your Tank Empty?

Today I had to drive past eight gas stations before finding one that had gas to sell. A customer in my store told me about waiting 45 minutes in line to get ten gallons. Maybe my family in upstate NY aren't seeing what we are here in Atlanta but I can tell you that in one way or another, they will feel it.

Remember the phrase "trickle down theory"? It is alive and well and affecting every sector of our communities. But you already know that. So what is my point?

We have taken a lot for granted in our lifetimes. Change has been either good or mostly a bad experience to talk about once we got back on track. And we have always seen a track to get back onto. But in the years since 9/11 (and I use that only as a significant starting point, not as the only reason for our calamities), we have seen natural disasters--hurricane after hurricane, floods, earthquakes--and financial disasters ad nauseum. We aren't as resilient in our thinking about change for the "good"--about being optimistic. Those brave souls who use change as an opportunity are finding it harder to do so. While I have had inspiration in those people in the past, I am afraid to look across the boat I am in and see them there, too.

As competition falls, there will be few who will weather the hard times and still have the heart to remain. It is at great cost for all -- even the strong are only as strong as the economy that keeps them afloat.

It is no consolation to know that a wake up call to our way of life will make us more conservative with our spending, less wasteful in all areas, more appreciative of what we have. In the stock market it is called a correction. Something that was wrong should be corrected. But suffering, nonetheless, does occur.

If we wait until the tank is empty to find a gas station, we may be going nowhere. Maybe you don't have to sell a house right now. Maybe you aren't in danger of losing your job soon. Maybe your debt is manageable or nonexistent. But you would be in the minority and what happens to your neighbor affects you, too.

These changes affect buying methods. A business/entrepreneur will have to adapt and create new ways and new products to accomodate the changes to survive. New and creative means to maintain income will come from all this. While some products will suffer and die (SUVs ?), others will flourish (Smart Cars?) because of the changes. It is so important now more than ever before to be able to take charge of your income, even if it's only a supplemental income. The internet has become reachable for the everyday person. In its simplest forms, the internet can make money for "ordinary" people. It may seem like it would take a degree in rocket science (believe me, I have my days...) to create a business online, but the truth is even a 10 year old can blog. (Maybe even younger...) So why doesn't everybody do it?

Their tank is empty. They just don't have it in them emotionally or financially to look at and learn another way. The economy has taken its toll. Don't let this option be the one you regret not having tried. The opportunities are so vast, so creative. It is truly an economically equal opportunity for those who use it best. Don't wait until your tank is empty--chances are, the way things are going, you may need a way to get somewhere else.

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