Updated: Apr 6, 2020
I woke up this morning with a sense of urgency. Then I read an article about the possible outcomes of the pandemic and it seemed to cement my intuitive feelings. I have the feeling that this virus is going to go much longer than we anticipate. I have a feeling that it will decimate our current systems in place (healthcare, finance, government, work and distribution) but that it will also be an opportunity for mass change.
The reason for this morning's freak out were the usual culprits: Our Federal government is not responding as adequately and as unified as it could. Administrative misinformation is being spread by top leaders who also want to open things back up asap, thus prolonging the virus and causing more casualties. Young people are going on beaches and not taking it so seriously. Older people are scared. We don't have enough supplies. It feels like there is no one in charge. If this lasts longer than 3 months then I probably won't have a job and then what????
Pause. Take 10 seconds and take 3 deep breaths and slowly exhale. Come back to center.
I've learned that sometimes a good old fashioned freak out is just what a person needs in order to get the motor running on a solution. It's what works well for me. 99% of the time I'm gold. Calm, cool, clear minded and collected. But then the other 1% of the time I have a freak out and eat ice cream for breakfast and temporarily indulge in the 'what if'. What if I lose my job? What if the nation collapses? What if millions die? Then I breath, come back to center, assess the situation, invite in my creative problem solver mind (yeah it's a thing), and I get to work on a solution.
This morning was a part of the 1% freak out mode. I assessed that this pandemic will last longer than 3 months, regardless of a slowdown in the summer. If you look at China's timeline, a country that has been much more stringent in containing the virus, then you will see that they are still battling it more than 5 months later. The US already has more cases than China and if we follow any pattern close to theirs then this is not going to be even remotely over by May. This may not be over by August or by November for that matter.
If this lasts more than 6 months then I could be out of a job, and we can't let that happen. So I looked at all the options. What will the stimulus package provide for my work? How can I make these stimulus options best work for me and all of my coworkers? How much should we apply for? How long should we apply for?
I then called one of my bosses and proceeded to tell him my plan. At first he thought I was catastrophizing until I laid the numbers down. Words may not always be perfect. Rumors, news, good guesses are usually not accurate. But cold, hard numbers are much more precise.
"How long can survive if we bring in no income? Three months! That won't do. Here's what we need to do ASAP..."
Yes, I told my boss what we need to do. Wise choice? In normal times no, but these aren't normal times. And I'm seeing in a different way now with clearer insight. We are no longer applying for a 6 month small business loan as he planned, but a 12 month one instead. How can we cut costs and keep people working? Easy. Shutter the central office that we aren’t allowed to use now anyhow, and keep everyone working from home. Give us all a small budget expense account to run our home offices. Assure the entire staff that we will continue working for the next 12 months without concern. This cuts office costs, builds confidence, everyone stays employed, everyone saves gas money, no one gets ill. Win, win, win.
Yes, if losing my mind for a moment in time helps to get the ball rolling on a bigger picture contingency plan then I welcome a little freak out in the privacy and confinement of my own home. I think we could all benefit from a well thought out contingency plan that is flexible, and that being better prepared for the worst while remaining cautiously optimistic has a profound effect on one's anxiety level. It has made me more calm already.
Being prepared for the worst doesn't make me a catastrophizer either. It means that I will be ready if and when a plan needs deployed. It means that I will eat, have a roof over my head, and have health insurance for the next 12 months at minimum. It means that I will add value to my community because I will not be struggling to survive and can assist others who may not have been as fortunate enough to have the resources that I do.
This is an opportunity to change. We need to be more united and concerned for others as much as ourselves right now. Covering my face when in public and staying home as much as possible might just save someone's grandmother.
It's time to band together. Help your neighbors (from a 6ft distance). Taking care of our immediate circumference of people will help out soooo much more than FEMA or any other big program can. Take care of each other. If everyone did this then the whole world would be handled.
Talk to your bosses. Have the conversation you might have been afraid to have 6 months ago. Times are different and we need all creative mental energy from as many sources as possible. Your idea might just save the company you work for and help 25 coworkers and their families eat for the next year.
See if you can operate at home and still continue business. Do you have a storefront? If so then can you move it online?
Think about alternate food situations. Can I order food from a delivery service? Can I create a food delivery service for my community and work for tips? Does my city offer food relief if I don't have income?
Think about your cash liquidity. How long can I survive on my savings if I have no income? And what assets do I have? Can I apply for government assistance and will that cover all my needs? Where can I trim my budget? Am I old enough to apply for Social Security?
Think about how to educate your kids if they can't go to school. Are you capable of homeschooling? Can they attend an online school?
We don't need to be afraid by these thoughts and questions, but we do need to think and ask them. This whole situation won't last forever but it just may feel like it's going to. Instead of worrying about the future let’s plan for it instead. Preparation never hurt anyone, but not being prepared...well that's what hurts most of all.