There are many angles on which we could approach the topic of managing through austerity. Indeed, when is enough enough has as many contexts as there are individuals which it affects. There are clearly elements of the reality of austerity that are common even if the actual individual impacts vary.
If you are fortunate enough to not be impacted negatively and are making a prosperous living during times in which many others are struggling, well done. The issue of enough being enough is maybe an issue of considering wants over needs. Do you need that new golf club or designer handbag or all that food in the freezer? Or do you simply want them for what they say about? Do you still need all of those clothes in the wardrobe or could someone else benefit via your own charitable “trickle down” effect? Is £1M enough or do you need more?
For many more of us, and in particular, those of us not living in London or the South West, maybe enough is enough, regarding the imbalance of regional Government funding initiatives or the gap between business support policies and the reality of these policies, in practice, or the incessant propaganda that all the unemployed are job-shy or the fact that we are the most photographed nation per capita in the World?
Your responses to these external issues will be as individual as you are. Or at least they should be. Provided that you are not simply following the trend or blindly complying to rules or conforming for the sake of an easy life, that is to say, playing a role that has been written for you, then you will have an opinion; your own opinion.
So, that said, what makes these issues personal is the way that you integrate austerity into your own world by which I mean, how these issues directly affect your personal circumstances, emotions and behaviour. I can speak with some authority on how I personally behave as I have experience and if you want to know the reality of a situation, ask someone that has been there. I have been there.
I have searched out the yellow label products. I have waited for the end of day product reductions in the Co-op. I have juggled whether to pay the gas or the electricity bill. I have woken each morning with a three second smile and then faced the reality of another stressful day speaking to cash collectors and waiting for the daily incoming red bill post. These things I have done.
How did I manage? Well, with difficulty but with purpose. Despite the days of angst and worry, I kept faith. Only just on occasions it is true, but I kept faith in me (and those treasured few that supported me). Whilst I accept that for many of us work brings pressure and contentment, frustration and joy, ups and downs, the balance of these seems to me to be all the more important during times of austerity. The tolerances are smaller and the returns more fragile or short term. There always seems to be a permanent cloud just sitting in peripheral vision waiting to deliver the next storm.
Whether starting on a new career, accepting that promotion or in creating your own new enterprise, it is undoubtedly tougher in times of austerity. This made me consider many aspects of my life, including financial freedom and to ask myself “What do you want? What are you prepared to do to get it? And ultimately when is enough, enough? In terms of the minimum that I need and the maximum that I want.
I have created the following diagram to explain the principles behind my considerations. I will be expanding upon this in future posts in Ethiconomics but for now I will provide some context and explanation of my thoughts.
Belief – we add research, feedback and context to our project to turn faith into a qualified belief.
Confidence – more work, feedback, activity and reward. Our confidence manifests and confidence inspires our actions. Results confirm our efforts and rewards are satisfactory or beyond.
Arrogance – it all seems too easy! Our model works, business/life is good, I can afford to throttle back a bit, I deserve this.
Ignorance – things are trickier but that’s life. Nothing much to worry about, it’s just a bad spell. I am enjoying it (really, overall, well most of it!). Things will get better.
Denial – nothing to see here. OK things are quiet, money is not quite as easy to earn but I am still right and happy. It’s them not me anyway. It’s not my fault.
Folly – I was right before and still am. What I have done before will be as effective again. It doesn’t matter anyway. I do it just because I love it and am not bothered about the money or the stress.
F*ck It – or f*ck it off. If it sustains beyond Folly then you have 2 choices: f*ck it off before it f*cks you up!
Let me qualify. You are responsible for your emotions. You are responsible for your actions. You are in control of when you decide that enough is enough. Clearly this is a simplification but the principles are, I think, appropriate. If you stay within the first three elements, being responsible for your success, listening to feedback, developing your product (or self) and focus on continuous improvement and sustainable growth, then your needs will be met.
If you stray into the further states, you are still responsible but are more likely to be attracting elements of frustration, angst, isolation and stress. You effectively refuse to define and accept when enough is enough. By understanding what are your needs rather than wants are, you are likely to reframe these components of your life into more than to the single aspect of money. Your wealth can be viewed in different terms and, even more importantly, on your own terms.
So, be responsible, be aware of your condition and define your own rules for exactly when (and what) enough is enough.
Phil Birch is business editor of the3rdimagazine.