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Reflections in the morning after night before

Fri, 27 Dec 2013 Source: Bernard Otabil / The Mirror

I am pretty sure that regardless of how you spent your Christmas Day, you will still have a few moments of reflection as the year gradually grinds to a close.

If you had a good one, l am sure you would love to maintain that experience; and if you had a bad one, you would want 2014 Christmas to be a better experience.

For those who ‘postponed’ this year’s Christmas to 2014, you will be praying that it does not become a permanent ‘rollover’, by postponing that one too to 2015.

All in all, there is something for all of us to celebrate, except that the commercialisation of the whole event has made it practically impossible for most people to appreciate that witnessing the day alone - given that some of those we started the year with are no longer around - is enough.

Okay. Now Christmas is out of the way, what next? There is a lot to look forward to.

The government started preparing us for the task ahead in November, precisely November 19, by laying before Parliament the country’s blueprint for 2014, and begged to move the august House to approve its financial policy for the year ending 31st December, 2014.

And so it proved that the policy was fit for purpose, and was accepted.

What remains is how you and l are able to take advantage of the serious document prepared by the government, with the aim of improving our lives.

Therefore, there is no better time to start looking at the true impact of the budget on your life than now, simply because there is a new birth, which must reflect new beginnings in our life.

The sad reality is that even before the ink had dried on the budget approval; all kinds of negative remarks had been passed, making the whole exercise of preparing the budget look fruitless. From the get-go, doubts had remained.

But that should not deter you from looking at the fine details yourself to find areas of possible breakthrough for you.

The morning after the night before is always a good time to think about real issues; often the time to see that after all, the reality is less romantic.

Yes, we cannot easily sweep away the fact that all is not well in our economy. That is very true. But again, it is never the case that there will never be problems for us to solve.

As Shakespeare wrote in Coriolanus, “when the sea was calm all boats alike / Show’d mastership in floating.” Indeed the seas are not always calm, and so we will always have people who will become pessimistic about every situation.

Here again, Winston Churchill said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

What you see reflects in the actions that you take. So, as you take stock of your life in the past 12 months, first be thankful, and next, look ahead with great optimism, remembering that when written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters; one represents danger and the other represents opportunity, the expression John F. Kennedy in 1959 used to reinvigorate the dying American spirit.

Remember also that human intelligence is about the individuals’ abilities to: understand complex ideas; adapt effectively to the world; learn from experience; engage in various forms of reasoning and overcome a wide range of obstacles.

With this in mind, you shouldn’t be daunted by the financial challenges of our time. Doing your best at all times is the best way forward, even when you find the economic situation unfavourable.

Many of the successful companies that you find today were all built in periods of economic downturn: Microsoft, Apple, Disney, CNN, Fortune magazine, GE, Hewlett Packard and many more.

Yes, the generally observed behaviour is that chaos causes people to retreat, but the other truth is that it is not so all of the time.

There are signs that the global financial crisis is not yet over. No doubt about that.

Financial markets and global conglomerates have all suffered; there were companies that had to close shop because they couldn’t attract customers and others that had to close down because they had been mismanaged.

The media has not helped either! Newspaper headlines have screamed: The world is in a crisis! ….Messy.

And Ghana too? Well…..A mess, some claim! Not entirely true, l dare say!

The spectacle is not pretty, agreed. But governments - successive ones - have had to respond by introducing measures to curb the untold hardships that many face, and also ‘bail out’ some struggling individuals with pro-poor policies.

What are you waiting for again? Which other signs do you want to see?

There are measures to cushion the economy. When you want to build a good investment plan for example, look at the government’s economic policy direction and the possible incentives introduced in the national budget to help businesses and individuals.

As l always say, do not be daunted by the current economic malaise; it may well mean that it is where your treasure is hidden!


Columnist: Bernard Otabil / The Mirror