UPDATED: January 6, 2009
PUBLISHED: January 6, 2009

Happy New Year. If you thought 2008 was tough, get ready for 2009. It’s time to ring in
the recession.

Even if the economy doesn’t get as bad as I fear it will,
the media will constantly remind you that
doomsday is right around the corner. The
more freaked out they can get you, the
more you will tune in for updates. Panic
sells, and it’s hard to not be sucked into
the vortex. If you buy into the hype,
you’re screwed.

So now what? How do you learn
to think rationally when the world is
acting irrationally, and there is panic and
chaos all around you? It seems that we
all have no choice but to adopt a Recession
Mindset—the mindset we all go to when times
are tough. And that’s the problem. By adopting
this mindset, you are opening the door to poor
decision-making and loss of control.

A mindset is a mental attitude that predetermines
how you interpret and respond to situations. If you
have the right mindset—it doesn’t matter what the
market does—your mindset controls everything. It
can give you the emotional security you need in an
overwhelming time.

So how do you stop from defaulting to a
Recession Mindset?

Admit it. You’re bunkered in. You’ve cut back. You
mainline CNBC. You’re stressed and freaked out about
retirement, college tuition or the mortgage. You’ve even
run a comparison between the U.S. economy in 1931 and
today. It’s hard not to slip into a Recession Mindset right
now. It certainly feels like the right thing to “do.” It’s not.

Does this economic downturn have an effect on you?
You bet it does. But it doesn’t have to have the same impact
on your business acumen or your decision-making.

I was in a business meeting recently with an extremely
successful and wealthy CEO. He said he was cutting back
because it “seemed like” what he “should” be doing. There
was no business reason, just emotion driving that decision.
That’s the Recession Mindset at work. How many business
opportunities do you suppose he is missing because of
his mindset?

How you think about the recession is not the same as
what you “do” to protect yourself from it. The problem is
when most people bunker down to survive a recession,
their mindset bunkers down too—they pull back.

You can bunker down in your portfolio—without
bunkering down in your thinking. And you’d better not
bunker down in your thinking—because you’ll have
no power.

To survive and flourish in this economy, you must act. There are
opportunities in all tough situations, and instead of allowing the
Recession Mindset to take hold, I want you to adopt what I call the
Wealth Mindset.

This mindset will prepare you for the rough road ahead, and
enable you to be in control and take advantage of opportunities that
present themselves. That’s why I’m here. I can help you beat the
panic and stress that affects you and your business. I will teach you
how to adopt the right mindset, right now.

You have to be on stable financial footing before we start to
monkey with your mindset.

Please make sure you’ve already taken the obvious steps: You’ve
spoken to your financial advisor, you understand your worst-case
scenario and have a well thought out Plan B. And if you don’t—put this
magazine down right now, call your advisor, have the tough conversations
you seem to be avoiding, then come back and finish this article.
I’ll still be here, and you’ll still need to hear what I have to say.

Your financial plan is in place, but you’re still overwhelmed.
Now what? Now I help you switch from a Recession Mindset to a
Wealth Mindset.

I’ve worked with top executives at Fortune 500 companies. I’m a
contributor to CNBC. I’ve studied the behavior of leaders of industry
like Warren Buffett and Donald Trump. I’m an entrepreneur myself,
and I use this in my own business. The Wealth Mindset has you rise
above problems so you can take control and solve them.

Donald Trump was near bankruptcy by 1991. His investors
were going to foreclose on all of his bond debt, and he was
careening toward certain business and personal bankruptcy.
But he lives the Wealth Mindset. He didn’t
falter. Instead of panicking, he planned. He knew
the banks didn’t want to
lose hundreds of millions,
if not billions, of dollars.
He used that as leverage to
practically force the banks
into restructuring his debt.
He ended up with much
improved long-term debt
deals, and he removed his
personal obligations. He saw
opportunity—where others
saw imminent ruin. Where
are the opportunities you are
missing right now?

Creating a Wealth Mindset is about letting reason reign instead
of emotion. It is governed by three principles: Control, Opportunity
and Elitism.

Control is the key to the Wealth Mindset. You want to start to look
for areas in your life where you can exert control. For example, in
irrational times like these, I always label the things I cannot control,
and I ignore them. I only focus on things within my control:
I cannot control the market, but I can control my level of exposure
and risk.
I cannot control how the media spins stories, but I can control
what news I consume and how I react to it.
I cannot control the U.S. economy, but I can control whether my
mindset is in a deep recession.

Opportunity is also critical. A Wealth Mindset looks at a recession
differently—through the lens of opportunity.

The richest people in the world make a habit of acting calmly,
and swooping in at times of chaos and taking advantage of
bargains in real estate, talent and competition. If you must make
cuts, do it through the Wealth Mindset—ask yourself which cuts
would create an opportunity to change the game in your favor.

The best part for me about the Wealth Mindset is the opportunity
it presents in your personal life. Adopting the Wealth Mindset means
less worry and stress. You’ll be happier because you will be in control
of your life. This isn’t just about business. This is about improving
your life.

Elitism is the secret ingredient of the Wealth Mindset. No, you
don’t have to become a snob. You no longer fall victim to groupthink.
What applies to everyone else—doesn’t apply to you. You play by
your rules. You do things your way—always have, always will. You
now act instead of react. This is the mindset of an elite few.

When you adopt the Wealth Mindset you simply choose not to
participate in the recession. In fact, you now see it quite differently
than everyone else, and that sets you apart.

History is a wonderful thing. It tells us that recessions always
pass. This one will, too. Are you going to hibernate through it—or
get stronger while everyone else around you sleepwalks? The choice
is yours.

Download the first section of Mel’s “Now What?” wealth mindset program at www.success.com/Mel.

Mel Robbins is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, CNBC contributor,
spokesperson for Microsoft and serial entrepreneur.

Read Mel’s weekly SUCCESS blog.


Mel Robbins is a contributing editor to SUCCESS magazine, best-selling author, CNN commentator, creator of the “5 Second Rule” and the busiest female motivational speaker in the world. To find out more, visit her website: MelRobbins.com. To follow her on Twitter: Twitter.com/melrobbins