The construction industry – including housing starts, remodeling work, and, lately, commercial projects – has been in serious decline for many months.  Everyone from contractors and developers, to electricians and plumbers, to interior designers and landscapers whose jobs depend on the soundness of the real estate business have suffered tremendously during this Great Recession.  I know many people – friends and patients – whose incomes have all but disappeared during this time.

The deterioration of finances and hopes for these folks – and for everyone else affected by these hard times, whether by the loss of a job, a home, increasing debts, foreclosure, or bankruptcy – is having painful and tragic consequences.  No one who feels any connection to the people surrounding them and the times we are living in can remain untouched.  One of the most destructive things I observe happening now, in my practice and among my acquaintances, is a debilitating and mistaken erosion of self-respect.

If you recognize yourself in this scenario, read on.  I want to stop this growing epidemic in its tracks, and so I’m proposing what I hope will become a boom in construction, a surge in do-it-yourself projects – a renovation renaissance.  I propose that you start rebuilding your damaged self-worth and self-respect.  It’s essential, and it’s time.

I’m going to offer you very practical, down-to-earth suggestions for how to accomplish this.  I want you to be able to really take hold of and act on these essential points.

  1. Re-Energize
    Where are you investing your energy these days?  Are you using it constructively, or are you using it to beat yourself up?  Are you tiring yourself out with guilt and regret, or exhausting yourself with feeling like a failure?  Are you fatigued with self-pity or victimhood?  If you’re indulging in destructive attitudes about yourself or your situation, you’re wasting valuable energy.  Knock it off!  You’ll need that energy to move forward with your personal renovation project.
  2. Re-Engage
    You can’t give up.  Time will always be against you if you’re wasting it.  You need to start realizing the value of what I call the “blessing of urgency”.  The blessing of urgency means recognizing that your back is to the wall, that you must do something about your attitude and your situation.  You must make something happen.  Once you engage in the process and gain momentum, the money will come eventually.
  3. Re-Measure
    I’ve stressed it before; you need a new “yardstick”.  Don’t measure your self-worth by how much money you’re currently bringing in.  Your income won’t necessarily give you an accurate reading on your value and abilities.  So you must . . .
  4. Re-Evaluate
    Take another look at yourself.  Who are you?  Which of your accomplishments are you truly proud of?  Then recognize what’s happening in the world around you.  So many people have lost jobs and homes.  Significant changes have taken place in the job market and our society.  Things may never be the same again.  If you are hurting, you are not to blame and you are not alone in your experience.
    Another thing to re-evaluate may be your career path.  If the demand for your profession has deteriorated or even been eliminated in the job market, or if your physical health or other capabilities have deteriorated enough that you’re not going to be able to sustain your original career, you’ll need to admit that and accept it.  For example, someone who’s been a highly skilled carpenter for many years and whose body can’t sustain that kind of work anymore will need to find a new direction and vocation.  Instead of getting depressed and feeling defeated, they will need to re-invent themselves and be proactive.
  5. Re-Envision
    What have you always wanted to do?  Maybe it didn’t seem practical, maybe you didn’t think you could really do it, but it has remained in the back of your mind.  Take a look at your abilities and your interests.  Create a vision of how you can fit into the changing economy and what you’re going to do in this next stage of your life – besides give up and feel overwhelmed and hopeless.  Get out of that debilitating emotionality and dream a little.  What really excites you?
  6. Re-Train
    What will it take to realize your new vision?  Do some research.  Will you need to pursue further education – vocational training or a degree – in order to develop this new career based on your interests and goals?  Now is the time to get the training or schooling you’ll need.  Talk with people, ask questions, volunteer, “test-drive” the fields you’re interested in.  Find out exactly where your passion lies.
  7. Re-Position
    You’ve done your dreaming, your planning, your research, and your training.  Now stay on track and continue to do everything in your power to place yourself in the optimum position for the coming economic rebound.  No one knows when solid financial recovery will take place, but you want to be ready when it happens.  And it will happen.  So don’t give up; get out and get going!