Recession – a pause for reflection

My niece recently wrote to Gordon Brown suggesting that a recession might be a good thing as, if we all got used to a smaller economy, there would be positive environmental benefits.

It got me thinking about the positive side of a slowdown. For some it will be painful, and of course there should be measures to reduce that pain (apart from for high bonus-earning bankers of course!).  That aside, the root of the word recession is recess – meaning a time for pause, refection and resetting.

It is undoubted that Affluenza and its associated inflation of economic greed has been a causal factor in the financial crisis. It’s also clear that Affluenza is a major contributor to stress levels and an impaired work-life balance; compelling people to work longer hours and to constantly try to achieve and obtain more of everything.

Everyone faces choices at time of recession. You can live in fear and panic, which only exacerbates stress levels, or you can see it as an opportunity to reflect on your values and motives, the quality of your life and what’s really important, and do what preparation you can to weather the difficulties. The more thoroughly you can do this the better.

In change management theory, the first response to change is fear and resistance, the second response is acceptance and exploration. This is as true for a society as it is for an individual or organisation – and usually the longer the period of fear and resistance, the more difficult it is to reap the positive benefits of the change and explore the new opportunities it offers.

A recession therefore presents an ideal opportunity to re-think your situation, which might have positive benefits for work-life balance. It may also have much wider global benefits if governments and businesses take the opportunity to explore more sustainable economic and financial models. Better to emerge from a recession changed and rebalanced, than simply rush helter-skelter to the next crisis point.

By the way, my niece did get a reply, but only to say that her letter had been passed to the Department of the Environment - another missed opportunity for joined-up thinking.


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