What to Do Instead of Worry

Action steps for tackling your recession nightmares.

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Karen Burns
Fear is everywhere. Open up a newspaper, flip on the TV, click over to any political blog, and you’ll be hit smack in the face with reports of the latest layoffs, prognostications on why the stimulus will or will not work, and rants about the bonuses of executives whose companies we are now bailing out.

You worry: How is all this going to affect me? You open your monthly bills and wonder: How would they get paid if I lost my income?

You could turn off the news and go get some exercise, you could practice counting your blessings, you could start to economize in many small ways, you could beef up your networking. These are all good things to do, yet you still worry.

It’s kind of a nightmare, isn’t it? So consider this move: Tackle the nightmare from a nightmare perspective. Ask yourself, What is the absolutely worst thing that could happen? Think it through in all its hairy detail. On paper.

Then create a plan to survive this worst case scenario. A nice detailed plan that spells out how, if the “worst thing” happened, you would (1) increase income and (2) reduce expenses.

When you start worrying again, as you will, take out this plan. Mull over it. Fine tune it. Give yourself extra points if you start implementing some of the plan now (like, for instance, the “reduce expenses” part).

Control what you can control. Do what you can do. As for the rest, turn off the news and go get some exercise.

Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009 (but available now for pre order at Amazon!). She blogs at karenburnsworkinggirl.com .