Recalibrating – What 2009 is Teaching All of Us

I’m noticing it everywhere. In the people in my office. In business associates. Clients. Early morning television hosts.

The neighbors.

The shock has worn off and reality has set in: we’re in a new place now.

At first, some of us were in near-panic mode. Utter shock and disbelief at what had happened to our economy. And then that of other countries. Incredulous at the collapse of Bear Stearns and then of Lehman, the news of corporations running into problems and banks asking for money, we now roll monikers like TARP off our tongues as easily as we blab iPod or Blackberry (it hasn’t been that many years since these two came off the shelves y’know); and understand how derivatives and credit default swaps work almost as much as we understand the way furnaces heat our homes or oil lubricates our engines. Bernie Madoff? A household name. Ditto for John Thain, Ken Lewis and Jeffrey Immelt.


So this is our new normal. And parts of it are absolutely wonderful (OK. Not the Madoff part. But he’s in jail now.)

I believe it is wonderful that people are taking more responsibility for their personal finances. That they are questioning the way their money is being handled. That they are starting to understand what they own and why they own it.

I believe it is wonderful that the age of selfish indulgence is at least temporarily suspended. A fun story on NPR this morning charted the lessons a young gal is learning about coping through these new times. And she was lamenting that she has given up her daily five-word-long, brewed-in, several-dollars-at-a-pop Starbucks for a generic brand that she makes herself at home. Poor thing. I mean seriously. What have we come to? My own almost-eighty-year-old mother has never enjoyed a cup of Starbucks on her own nickel. And didn’t know what to do with the corrugated cardboard sleeve when I handed her one!

I believe it is wonderful that we are finally starting to look at price tags when we shop for clothing. That it’s suddenly cool again to wear “gently worn” suits or carry leather handbags purchased from your local consignment shop.

That we are questioning the need for gadgetry when we know darn well that simple tools and appliances usually do the trick. That expensive, flashy cars don’t really get us to where we need to go any more reliably than more vanilla models. That dinners in are usually more nutritious than dinners out.

I believe it is wonderful that families are helping family members who have temporarily been displaced out of jobs and of homes. Taking adult children and their kids in. Pitching in as families have always pitched in.

2009 is going to be about recalibrating. For whether you realize you are doing it or not, you are changing something about the way you do things. You are doing one of the above. Or you are re-thinking your line of work. Or your travel plans for spring break. Or your summer vacation. Or the colleges on your family’s wish list. Or your eating patterns and entertaining habits. Your driving routines. Dry cleaning needs. I have noticed in my many daily conversations with clients and with friends: we are coming to accept this new realty as just that. It’s our new reality. And so we better smile and make the best of it.

Recalibrate. In order to best serve you and your family’s needs. Or of your clients or customers. Your professional integrity or the probability of ensuring longevity in your line of work. Recalibrate to preserve your physical and mental health. To save yourself. Recalibrate to regain your spiritual bearings. To become centered.

Recalibration. That’s what’s ahead for us in 2009. For all of us. Whether we want it or realize it. Or not.

Recalibration holds enormous opportunities for blessings and for growth! I hope you start looking for them, reaching out to others who might help you find them, and discover something new about life. About yourself.

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