On Thursday, the stock market took its biggest dive since December 2008. And then our nation’s credit got downgraded.

The doomsayers are happy about this. Shouting, “I told you so!” at the top of their lungs.

Some small business folks are feeling worried. You might be one of them. If you are, please stop for a moment and breathe.


I have a friend named Julie (not her real name). She’s an entrepreneur who’s worked hard over the last 6 years to build her business.

When the economy went south back in ’08, she laid off her tiny staff and took care of everything herself.

Then, she borrowed from her credit cards to cover some bills.

When things finally started to turn around at the beginning of this year, she was relieved. She could start to pay off that debt and put a little away again for a rainy day.

But she’s been afraid to hire even one part-time person because she’s sure the economy is going to hit bottom again before it gets better. (On Friday she said, “See?! I told you it would happen!”)

My friend is tired. She’s up at the crack of dawn and doesn’t go home until long after dinner.

She feels trapped, and has no clue where to even look for that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. She’d love to sell her business and get out, but she’s convinced this isn’t the right time. That she’ll lose her shirt.

“And besides, what would I do? There aren’t any jobs! Nobody would hire me at my age, either.”

I love my friend. And I’ve talked her down off the ledge probably a zillion times.

But as soon as I leave, she gets right back up there.

Sometimes she cries. Other times she tells herself she’s grateful for the bit she does have.

Her problem? She’s stuck in a world of scarcity-think. And it’s stopping her from growing in a joyful way.

We’ve all been there. Even me.

There was a time in my early 20s when I was a single mom, buying groceries with food stamps and wondering if that child support check would arrive on time. I was so stuck in fear that most of the conversations I had literally ended with, “I can’t do that. I just don’t have the money.”

Those were magic words. They reinforced my situation. And worst of all, I passed them on to my son.

When I finally learned that I could choose my own reactions and feelings to the events around me, I learned a valuable lesson: that everyone truly creates their own reality. And the words we choose (the stories we tell, the conversations we have with ourselves and others) are what sets — and reinforces — our point of view. For good or ill.

If you ever want to create something remarkable with your life and your business, you need to start now to think differently about what’s possible.

Here are 5 good habits to help you get to that place where you can start to imagine new possibilities about yourself, your life and your business:

  1. Feed Yourself a Daily Meal of Inspiration. Take 15 minutes (or more!) every morning to read or watch something inspirational. Ideally, this could be a chapter in a book, but could even be a blog post or a YouTube video. I really enjoy reading anything by Seth Godin (especially Linchpin or Purple Cow); but if you’re looking for other ideas, check out the reading list and links at the very bottom of this page. Those are things I’ve continued to find useful over the years.
  2. Join a Group of Like-minded Colleagues. Remember when your mom worried that you were hanging out with the wrong crowd? Turns out she was right! We need the positive-reinforcement of friends and partners who can share positivity and motivation with us on a regular basis. If you’re not part of a Mastermind Group, find or create one. This is especially crucial if you are a solopreneur like me who spends most of your time alone.
  3. Take Lots of Breaks. When you stay at your desk or workstation for 8+ hours without changing it up, your brain gets stuck in a rut. Set a timer on your laptop or cell phone to remind you to get up, stretch, do some yoga or take a short walk. Not only is this healthier for you, it will allow different synapses in your brain to fire — and possibly let in some brilliant inspiration. I usually get my best ideas in the shower or when I’m out for a walk.
  4. Make an Appointment with Your Creative, CEO-Self. If you ever want to think about the future of your business and how to make it better, you’ve got to set aside time to be the CEO. Get out of your office and go somewhere different. Turn off your cell phone. Just bring a small notebook and a pen.  Ideally, this would be a 60-min block of time, once a week for dreaming about new products, services or collaborations. Ask yourself a lot of “What if…?” questions. And then write down your answers.
  5. Set Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Ever heard of the BHAG? It’s a huge goal that excites you and makes you nervous at the same time. It’s something that if you pull off, would create an enormous impact on you and others. It’s risky, but worth it.  And best of all, it won’t allow you to stay stuck in scarcity think!

So instead of worrying about whether you’re going to get a big enough slice of the economic pie, be different! Bake a whole new pie. Something bigger and better than everyone else expects. And then share it liberally with everyone you meet. I’m not saying you should ignore the events around you. I’m inviting you to change your thoughts about them so you don’t get stuck.

Do you have any tips for thinking creatively? Staying motivated? Feeling abundant? Share them here in a comment below.