The British news magazine, The Economist, named VocationVacations a positive trend for 2009 amongst the ashes of 2008 in its article, The Upside Of A Downturn.  This makes me very happy to say the least.  But there’s more to it than just my happiness with The Economist’s article.

Since we’re talking about the Brits here, the article reminded me of two very random things.  Hang in there with me here…as they do seem random at first glance.

First, the article reminded me of a road trip back in 2002. I was traveling back from my family’s vacation place up in the Canadian Rockies with my ol’ British friend, Yvonne Ovey.  Yvonne and I lived and worked in Budapest, Hungary at the same time back in 1997-1998.  Anyway, she and I were traveling to Oregon from British Columbia and we hit major road construction.  Things were backed up forever.  We sat in the car barely moving for over an hour when Yvonne decided to get out of the car and go chat with the road construction workers.  Meanwhile, I called my then-79 year old Dad who lives in Florida just to catch up a bit.  I told Dad what Yvonne was doing.  He replied, “She’ll get it worked out.  Those Brits back in WWII had a way of balancing getting the job done while always staying positive and pleasant”.  Sure enough, Yvonne comes back and she had convinced the road construction workers to take a bit of a break so they could let the large amount of traffic go through for 15-20 minutes.  The Brit took a bad situation and found resolution — with a smile on her face.

The article also reminded me of when Queen Elizabeth II called 1992 Annus Horribilis (it sounds naughty but it’s obviously not or the queen wouldn’t have said it) when her family and the crown seemingly were imploding due to their carrying ons, divorces and tabloid news-making.  The queen admitted it and then went on to say that she was, in a sense, “moving on” (my words, not hers) and ready for 1993.  

I think many of us would consider 2008 Annus Horribilis, yes?

But it’s time to move on.  It’s time to make some lemonade out of lemons.  And here’s how — let’s take a bit of the British approach:

Keep a sense of pleasantness –  no matter how bad things get, stay pleasant and kind.  To yourself, most importantly.  But also to your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and anyone else you come across.  There’s no sense in continuing to be down.  Stiff upper lip!

Stay Calm – yes, this is a horrible time for many people.  I just read the headline in this morning’s Oregonian here in Portland that we have the highest unemployment rate since 1993.  Yikes.  But stay calm.  Overreacting isn’t going to get you anywhere.  Hard work, planning and strategizing is going to get you somewhere.  

“Never, never, never give up” — Who said that?  None other than British Prime Minister Winston Churchill when he reflected back on WWII and was giving some sage advice.  Sir Churchill’s words are mine to you if you’ve been laid off in 2008 or are fearing a lay-off in 2009.  Never, never, never give up.  Fortitude and determination are key.

Stay Positive – Not only do you need to stay pleasant (like Yvonne convincing the road construction workers) but you also have to remain optimistic.  Sometimes you might just have to FORCE yourself to stay optimistic.  Tease yourself into thinking it WILL get better.  And you know what?  It will.  Do you think it was easy for the Brits to stay positive when bombs were falling on London? Of course not.  But with the positive leadership of Churchill and the monarchy, the British people remained positive (the Queen Mum even kept a great sense of humor which endeared her to many for years to come) and determined to win the war.

Luckily 2009’s issues aren’t quite as serious as what the British lived through in WWII.  But we are seeing some serious downturn that is making a huge negative impact on people’s lives, there’s no doubt.  Leave it to the British and The Economist to say, “hey, there is an UPSIDE to all of this!”.  I love it.  Please take the time to read the article in The Economist.  

And take those lemons that you’ve been sucking on in 2008 and turn them into some wonderful 2009 lemonade because that’s just what the Brits would do.