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Want to Survive Hard Times? Focus on What You Can Control

ROANOKE, Va. — Are you tired of swimming upstream? Has the troubled economy worn you down and made you lose your optimistic view of life? Have you had to make tough management decisions concerning staffing? Do you feel less secure in your job?
If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, then this column is written for you. The key to survival in hard times is learning to focus on what you can control. At first, that may seem rather difficult. I would like to suggest that you consider the following.
Now is the perfect time for you to take more educational classes. Education is a key in getting or keeping a job. Many of us who are over 55 can always benefit from computer classes. Computer technology has progressed so rapidly that many of us fell behind without ever realizing it. Numerous courses are available from local colleges through their adult education programs.
We all have weaknesses. Now is the time to take courses to strengthen our skills in those areas. Perhaps we need to improve our writing skills or presentation skills. Maybe we need to improve the ways we motivate employees. Once we set goals and start looking, we will find a number of resources that will assist us in fulfilling our goals.
For those of you in my generation, you might think that improving your job skills is a waste of time because retirement is just around the corner. If that is how you feel, then you need to develop your interest and knowledge in post-retirement areas. The biggest question facing retirees is what they are going to do after they retire.
Perhaps now is the time to improve your lifestyle. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress. You do not have to join a gym and lift weights to get the benefits of exercise. A walk around the block each day will greatly improve your attitude and muscle tone.
It takes 30 days to develop a habit. Setting goals and keeping them for 30 days will put you on a new, better path.
Perhaps there are fences you need to mend with your children or other relatives. Now is the perfect time to reach out and work on repairing those hurt feelings. It is never an easy thing to do, but when you accomplish that goal, you will have improved two lives.
Working on the things that you can control will improve your outlook on life and make you more successful. Getting additional education may not keep you from losing the job you have but it sure will help you in getting the next one.
Preparing yourself for the future makes it less scary. People like to be around and work with happy people. Happy people are those who feel they control more aspects of their life than they don’t control.
The choice is yours! You can complain that the glass is only half full and hope someone else will fill it up, count your blessing that the glass is half full because half a glass is better than an empty glass, or you can join me in a third option.
When I look at a partially filled glass, I prefer to focus on its contents—not the volume, but the quality of what is inside. I prefer chocolate milk to plain white milk. I prefer my banana cake with lots of frosting. I like nuts on my chocolate chip cookies. Everything can be improved upon. So it is that everyone can work on improving him or herself!
The journey of self-improvement lowers our stress level and helps us continue to meet each day’s challenges with a smile on our face.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].