Resilience in the face of economic hardships

(Stuart M)

BY RICHARD SEBAGGALA

Statistics from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) show that Uganda’s economy is losing ground.

The year 2016 ended on a gloomy note for most people as a result of numerous economic hardships like the depreciation of the shilling, the rising cost of living, inadequate rainfall, among other socio-economic challenges.

There is a general feeling among many that money is scarce and most people are worried about the future. As a result there is a recurrent discussion of how the year 2017 will be and how best many will sail through it.

Economists have over the years been able to prove that economic shocks/hardships are real. They also show that their occurrence present an opportunity that brings out the best in people. Indeed, my interaction with several successful people reveals that during their rise, economic conditions were never favourable.

Therefore, the discussions at hand should focus on how people can remain robust and stay on track economically in the face of adversity. In economic literature this is described as resilience, the ability to bounce back from some form of disruption, stress, or change (Walsh, 2012).

Whereas the earliest researchers believed that resilience was innate quality, a possession that is so rare that those who have it are magical and fortunate. This thinking is however losing ground.

Resilience is not some remarkable innate quality but rather something that can be nurtured by anyone who is cognizant of the situation.

The following are some of the underlying factors that one needs to nurture resilience in the face of economic hardships.

  • One feature that sets successful individuals apart from others in the face of disruptive life challenges is that they focus on long-term goals.

Having a long-term perspective about life has many advantages that help one to survive economic storms.

In Uganda, because of the many causes of death, people believe that life is too short. However, it is a grave mistake to think that life is too short, hence making decisions with a myopic mindset.

A person focused on the long-term perspective will instead invest in things that promise returns in life such as educational training, knowledge acquisition, and productivity at work, honesty and healthy living.

On the contrary, short-sighted individuals think about changing cars every year, renting luxurious houses, owning the latest smart phones, among others.

Although these are good things, acquiring them does not make sense given the current economic situation.

  • Secondly, the degree of physiological resilience greatly depends on one’s stock of supportive relationships.

People who have reliable, credible and relevant partners, friends, colleagues and family are well positioned to bounce back after life shocks.

When life pressures mount with no support and advice from a partner, friend or colleague, vulnerability is high. The effectiveness of supportive relationships in the face of hardships require prior investment in them. So create time to build important relationships with people you can trust and lean on when need arises.

  • Thirdly, create spiritual anchoring. This means that people who stand firm in the Lord have been resilient in the face of stressful life experiences.

I know you have heard many testimonies where spiritually resourceful people have defeated social-economic barriers threatening their lives. Spiritual beliefs, values and knowledge are fundamental in life no matter who you are.

Therefore, invest in fellowship, and Bible study, among others.

In conclusion, resilience is a stock variable that can be nurtured. Given the fact that life challenges, even economic ones, are a given, everyone should endeavour to do things that nurture resilience, including those described here.

The writer is a lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Administration

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