4 Ways to Stay Positive When You’re Broke

UPDATED: February 4, 2017
PUBLISHED: February 4, 2017

Whoever said money can’t buy happiness has never been truly poor. The jury is still out on whether the happiness that comes from money stops at a certain point or if it’s an infinite correlation, but there’s one thing you don’t need a study to tell you: Being broke is depressing.

Related: 10 Money Habits That Are Leaving You Broke

Here’s the rub: In order to stop being broke, you need to stay optimistic and motivated.

But how? A great first step is to read stories about successful people who experienced similar hardships. Many CEOs started from nothing, tinkering on passion projects in their garages, only able to afford food by working dead-end jobs. And a large number of executives started second careers or companies later in life after quitting their original plan.

Tomas Gorny is an example of someone who knows what it is like to be completely broke and then achieve incredible success. He is the co-founder and CEO of Nextiva a cloud-based communications provider headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. Gorny emigrated from Germany in his early 20s. He joined a startup, helped grow the company, sold it and profited financially. Soon, though, after some poor investment decisions, he lost everything.

He was broke.

But his lack of funds didn’t stop him. With years of hard work, Gorny is now back on top, running Nextiva, a company with more than 600 employees, upward of $100 million in yearly revenues and more than 150,000 business customers nationwide.

How did Gorny stay positive, even in his lowest moments? Here, he shares four lessons.

1. Recognize the lessons in front of you.

Every time you fail, take the opportunity to learn from it. If you’ve just gone broke, it can be easy to want to curl up on the couch and give in to your emotions. Gorny says if you need to do this (it can be healthy), set a deadline of a few days at most. Then wake up and get moving.

Meditate on what really happened with a clear mind. Approach it logically, as if it were a game that you were coaching or scoring. If you’re frustrated with specific people, try to consider the situation from an outsider’s perspective. What happened? What were the mechanics? What can you learn about human psychology, capitalism or your own mannerisms to help you do better next time?

This exercise will not only help you come away a better person, but it will also make you feel much less helpless. Almost all fear comes from the unknown. When you take time to stop and look, that fear can turn into light.

2. Make a plan.

Being broke tends to make us feel helpless, and in some cases, it can lead to recklessness and poor decision-making. Gorny recommends that instead of getting desperate, make a plan.

Approach plan making as if you’re talking about a different person in an identical situation. What is the skill or resource that you need more of? If you could get it, would it make everything easier? Answer these questions and then start building.

This plan doesn’t need to be fancy; it’s for your eyes only. It could be as simple as:

  1. Find a part time job (the YouEconomy has made this easier than ever before).
  2. Polish your résumé.
  3. Contact three successful family members, friends or acquaintances and ask them about opportunities.
  4. Sign up for one free networking event per month.

Do these simple things and pretty soon you will feel more in control. And when you feel in control, you feel powerful. When you feel powerful, good things happen faster.

3. Look for places to learn.

There is no downside to being more educated, Gorny says. Keep learning, in whatever capacity possible. Read books in your desired field; take free online classes; get in contact with people you admire and ask them about their journey.

4. Master the art of networking.

Getting started in business can feel overwhelming. Gorny says to combat this and build confidence, get involved in your local professional scene at networking events. Meet-ups and receptions that offer a networking component are extremely low risk and provide excellent opportunities to learn. These are also viable ways to meet people who can help you accomplish your financial goals.

At events, pay attention to how others interact. You’ll notice there are patterns: power stances, certain types of phrasing and so on. Fake it until you make it.

Gorny’s biggest lesson is about feeling powerful, and being broke can easily make you depressed and limit your feelings of power. He found that arming himself with knowledge and experience, and dedicating time to building his network, helped him tremendously. And his lessons can help you stand at the helm of your own life.

Related: 5 Business Fundamentals I Learned Washing the Dishes

Cynthia Johnson is an entrepreneur, marketing professional, author and keynote speaker. She is co-founder at Ipseity Media. Previously, she was partner and director of marketing for RankLab, a digital marketing agency listed in Inc. magazine’s Fastest Growing Private Companies in 2015. In July of 2015, RankLab was acquired by American Addiction Centers, where Cynthia worked as their director of brand development. She is an advisor to a social good company, DIVONA, as well as nGage.social, an influencer advertising startup.  Cynthia is on the Forbes Agency Council, and a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council. Cynthia was listed as top social media people to follow by Inc. magazine, top 50 marketers on SnapChat by Mashable, top 12 Female Entrepreneurs that Inspire by Darling Magazine and top 20 people in SEO by Guardian. She has been interviewed in Forbes, Huffington Post and Chicago Planner Magazine. She is also a social media influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Pinterest.