Personal contingency system: check
Emergency fund: check
A month in advance in medication, non-perishable foods, extra batteries: check…
And yet, even the most prepared among us might have not seen it coming; ‘it’? the black swan, the unexpected event that makes most of what experts and specialists had been speculating about, irrelevant.
So now what?
After the initial surprise and freaking out behaviors, the next action starts by finding ways to stay rational, calm and collected.
This is when things will start shifting, and our internal problem-solver/solution-finder will start seeing this time as an opportunity for more personal growth.
Because even things are in ebb mode, getting into a form of action, having goals, and get going is what will make the difference several months from now.
Your first action: setting the framework for beyond the crisis
Let’s start by the obvious: as you are going through the crisis, your brain is wired to do its job: respond to all sorts of emergencies.
This includes the not so urgent ones, i.e. all that extra noise in the news and other social media.
Do yourself a favor: be discerning about what you allow in that big box.
Staying informed and in contingency mode is a necessity, of course; adding an extra dose of unnecessary stress, not helpful right now.
Because you need some space up there to set the stage for the next big task: working on your own future.
And the more you are readying yourself to it, the more tolerance you will have to the current situation, and the more positive actions you will be able to take towards it.
And what better place to start than where you are, right now?
Look backward, keep what supports you
Your starting point should be with what is the most critical in crises and survival times: your health and your finances.
When it comes to your finances, do you have enough funds to meet your short-term needs? Adjust your cash balance and your expenses to match your current situation.
Health: mental, physical, emotional, should also be on top of your list. And prevention part of your daily routine. Diet, exercise from home, connecting with others: be diligent about meeting your needs (but stay flexible and make it enjoyable!).
Now it’s time to look into other areas of your life: what has been neglected? What has been on the back burner because you will ‘get to it when you have a minute’? What can you simplify?.
Declutter and reorganize home and paperwork: Donate, recycle, keep and clean up.
Why does it matter? you’d ask,
Because your brain needs a mental break right now.
By ensuring your finances are in order, you are appeasing the safety/security concerns.
By re-organizing your life and your environment, you are giving your brain the space to create and spot opportunities.
Look ahead, invest in your future, keep learning, get outside your comfort zone
Back to your future! time to look for what’s ahead for you and what you can do about it.
Starting with what you can do right now to steady or improve the current situation.
For a business owner, the concern can be to retain your customers and preserve your cash. What ways can you adapt your marketing messages, so that you are selling your products while also providing solutions for your community? – an example among others.
Another example for those in the corporate world, you might want to stay current and focused on the present situation, delivering on your commitments, at the same time while preparing yourself for future opportunities.
You can choose to take on new assignments, help out other teams, and still learn new skills and increase your profile internally in the process.
With the emergence of everything online these days, you have access to a wealth of information and learnings; wherever you are.
Acquire new skills, volunteer for remote jobs or consulting projects.
In another word, use this time of in-between wisely.
Network, communicate, and …
As any PR expert would tell you: it’s in the most challenging times that communication becomes even more essential.
Don’t skimp on this point and don’t assume that people know what you are doing, what you want, where you are at or what you need.
Use this time to better your communication skills; with colleagues or teams, prospects, and clients.
People will appreciate it, and you will be perfecting a skill that you can easily sell in the future.
Networking is part of this strategy. So are social media. If Linkedin is your jam, use it to communicate with your peers, to comment on their posts, to offer helpful advice, to collaborate.
People will remember.
And you would have increased your online presence in a very positive way.
….Stay motivated, keep your eyes on what’s important for you
If you haven’t done it yet, this is a good time to go back and write down your goals again.
And if you were looking for a job, don’t stop! continue your search; positioning yourself for the future starts now.
A few words on goals: revisit those ones you made at the beginning of the year. While the long-term goals might still stand, chances are, your mid and short-term goals will need revision and adapting.
Keep those goals handy.
Refer back to them any time you see yourself demotivated and wanting to give up.
Commit to yourself to achieving those short-term goals, and working for your future.
As you know by now, nothing is permanent. Opportunities will come your way. You will be better able to see them when you are clear about what you are looking for.
And a final word. It’s ok to feel frazzled when the unexpected strikes. But you get to decide how you want your next steps to look like.
Crisis planning and recovery strategies can be very bumpy roads. And your motivation may be tested, on and on.
This is also the time to continue and carry on. Remind yourself often of your goals, professional and personal; be flexible; keep your morale, and of those around you, up.
Continue brushing up your resume, keep learning and be open to the new opportunities that will come your way.