What… or Who…Would You Change in 2012?

I asked this question over on LinkedIn, “In your work, what’s one big thing you’d like to change in 2012?” I was expecting people to respond with their goals and plans for the coming year. I was a little shocked … most of the responses were from people who wanted to change their clients, their jobs, their boss …and the economy!

The responses seem to add up to the statement:  “We need to change, you go first!” My observation of people, institutions and things has been to the contrary.  Change begins with one’s self.  You may brand me as cynical for this, but I believe you can’t really change anything or anybody else without changing yourself first.  Other people and situations change as we change our thoughts about them. Everything else is fantasy and wishful thinking.

Let me give you a for instance.  I hear this phrase several times a day from several sources.  It is usually brought up to describe how well someone is doing. What is said is that they are doing pretty good  “in this economy.” In this economy? Really? I was just in Scottsdale in an iPic theater.  It is a movie theater with lounge chairs, pillows and blankets.  The tickets are $28 to sit all snuggled up with “free” popcorn and watch a movie. There were lines out of most of the restaurants, and the stores were doing a pretty brisk (for January) business.

We have been brainwashed into thinking that most things are outside of our ability to control.  Hence the phrase, “in this economy”.  It couldn’t be us, could it? See, what most politicians and the media don’t want you to know is that the economy is pretty much what it has been for a long time.

There are those people who make things happen, those who let things happen, and those who ask “What happened?!” Fix the economy? Why not fix yourself rather than blame other people, places and things for your lot in life.  MAKE THINGS HAPPEN!!!

I don’t buy into the typical statement “in this economy.” The hidden statement that most politicians and media pundits don’t want you to know? This isn’t a bad economy, it’s just different. It isn’t what most of us experienced for the last 10 years, but it is very similar to what the boomers experienced when they graduated from high school.

The defining feature of the last 10 years was the real estate bubble. Looking for people or institutions to blame (again, it is all external) won’t solve the problem.  It has already happened.  And during the boom, we were lulled into a state of nirvana by skyrocketing property values and a boom mentality.  What I find interesting is where the real pain is in the economy:

  • If you don’t have a high school diploma, the unemployment rate is about 14%.
  • If you do, with but not a college degree, it is about 9%.
  • If you are a college graduate over the age of 25 in the civilian population the unemployment rate is 4.0% as of December. **From the Bureau of Labor Statistics

If you have an education, the economy is darned good.  Sure, you may not have the choices to move employment like you did, but you are working, if you are worth a damn. Perhaps even if you aren’t. The pain in the economy is the several million workers that went into construction or supported the residential real estate market from 1999 to 2008.  They made a lot of money for several years, bought houses based on that earnings level, then saw it all go away in 2007 and 2008.

When we say “in this economy” we settle the blame for things outside of ourselves.  And the real case is that we all have control of what we think about and how we think about it. What you find is that there are always opportunities for those who are willing to work and apply themselves. So… while I hope that things are broadly better in 2012, that doesn’t imply that things are bad. Things may not be “on a roll,” but good times never last, nor do bad ones. There have always been ups and downs, that’s a fact of life in a free market economy.

I love the quote by Charles Darwin, “It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, it’s the most adaptable.” How are you adapting and changing to meet current reality?

Off of my soapbox for now…

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