YOU read in the media every day about the tough times and the bad state of the world's finances. The "natural" thing to do is to get worried and feel like a victim of this circumstance - "Will I lose my job? Will my salary be cut again?"

Do you take the cautious route and wait for things to happen? Or is there something you can do now? Ask yourself: "What can I do during these times to make good things happen?"

There are numerous opportunities available if you look hard enough. This is your chance to stand out and be a winner.

Here are suggestions on how to make your life better even in a downturn:

Be positive and energised

* Count your blessings. Think of your loved ones, the roof above your head and all the strengths that you have that you are thankful for. There are also many things you can do to grow your relationship with the ones closest to you that do not require pots of money. The only investments will be your time and effort.

*Take a break from the bad news. Choose what you read, hear and talk about. Make the choice to focus on the opportunities available and what's right about the things around you and your industry. You will be surprised at the number of ideas you will get.

* Take this opportunity to learn and grow in your field. The Internet is a great source of learning. Share what you have learnt and discuss these topics with your friends and family - you will feel the positive energy strengthening. People want to work and do business with people who are positive, upbeat and resourceful. Choose to be that person.

Separate the controllable from the uncontrollable

* The global economic climate is not within your control. There are so many things you cannot change or influence. Discussing these constantly may just drag you further downwards.

* Manage your responses. Adapting to changed business conditions and what you do on a day-to-day basis is totally in your hands. Train yourself not to complain and get totally upset over what's outside your control: If you can't change something, change the way you respond to it.

* Your mind is an extremely powerful tool. Use it to remind yourself that you have a choice of how to deal with the different events in your life. Event + Response = Outcome. Your response determines your outcome.

Start working on your job instead of in your job

* It is time to stop and check before you go. It is the right time to take a break from chopping the trees and time to sharpen your axe. It is time to ask the right questions regarding what you are doing: "What does my customer really want?"; "What is unique about what I offer?"; "How can I stand out from the rest?"; "How can I offer the best solution to exceed their expectations?"; and "How can I improve my performance?"

* It is a great time to look at your processes and fine-tune them. Look at your work or business plans, and review them together with your team members. Ask everybody involved to be focused on what is within their control and seek to improve it.

Build lasting relationships

* Do not be a fair-weather friend. Keep in touch with all your clients, even the ones who are not able to buy from you, and look for ways you can constantly add value. Be genuinely interested in them and show them that you care.

* If it's a slow day, use the extra time you have to pick up the phone and have a chat with your clients. Think of it as a low-cost, high-return way to grow relationships. They may not make the decision to buy now but rest assured, you will be the first one on their minds when they decide to.

* Bring some cheer to the office - buy tea and snacks for your team members. They will appreciate the gesture. Be that bright spark that emits positive energy to the people around you.

Seize the day and start taking action. Let this be a very good personal and professional change - no matter what the economic weather.