Everyone has down times. Things don’t always go the way we want. Promising opportunities fizzle and die. Things change. That’s life, “sometimes you’re high in April, shot down in May.”, as Frank Sinatra sang.

Everything also has seasons. What goes up must come down; that’s gravity. What is expanding will eventually contract, and what is contracting will eventually expand; that’s physics. (Lazy Man’s Guide To Enlightenment, Thaddeus Golas). “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven”; that’s the King James Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

So, what is the trick to ride out the down, restricting, fizzling and dying phases of the cycle of life, so that we are poised to capitalize on the good times, when they return?

The first step is to accept that things won’t always be up. It’s just not natural, so don’t fight it. Will Rogers said, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” If circumstances are down, then feeling miserable about it will just keep digging the hole deeper.

But how am I supposed to accept the down times when what I want is to go up? In the down cycle, things contract; opportunities are scarce, things are less plentiful. So, to ride that horse in the direction it’s going, you should contract on purpose. Contract in five ways: with your possessions, your time and deeds, your money, your emotions and your thoughts.

1) Get rid of anything you don’t absolutely need. Clean out your closets, cabinets, garages. There is always someone who could use some of those things more than you because they probably have less.

2) Don’t waste time or effort. Create clearly defined goals. Describe where you want to be (when things start to go up), and if you find yourself doing anything that is not moving you one step closer in that direction, stop doing it! (First things First, Stephen Covey)

3) Make a budget and stick with it fanatically. Every single time you think about buying something don’t ask yourself, “Do I want this or do I need this?,” instead ask yourself, “Can I get by, and can I get where I want to go without this?” If the answer is yes, don’t spend the money, and then focus on your ultimate goal.

4) Be aware of your emotional ups and downs. If you feel disappointed or sad, upset or down in any way, don’t try to stop it by imposing a false smile on your face or by stuffing your mouth with ice cream! Feel the emotions on purpose, try to understand the message behind the feeling, and get help from someone who knows how to listen. (Download our Emotions article).

5) Watch your thoughts. You are going to worry from time to time because it’s natural. If you don’t worry, I’d worry about that! But in your worry, learn to distinguish the difference between what is real and what is fantasy, and discipline yourself to act on the reality in order to make real, practical steps in a productive direction. (Listen to a series of audios of my presentation: Turning Worries into Action Plans).

Yes, this is all easier said than done. That’s the nature of the down times; everything is easier said than done. That’s why we all need help. Don’t waste time, money, or one more thought on lamenting about how bad things are. Instead, go about finding what kind of help can take you one more step in a positive direction towards what you want.