This year has certainly been one we won't forget.
Many of us have found ourselves having to adjust to new ways of working and new ways of life.
For some, the lines have become blurred.
It's made things challenging and perhaps you feel like you're taking strain.
Here are some ways to lighten the load.
It might sound insensitive to call a crisis an ‘opportunity’ but gaining perspective and a positive mindset are vital in dealing with challenges and overcoming them.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” - Haruki Murakami
We’ve already written about the opportunity this outbreak presents for investors.
How, now more than ever, it’s worth focussing our time and energy on the things we can control instead of the things we can’t.
(Financial, or otherwise).
So here are 11 positive things we can all do during this unprecedented time.
1. Help others
This crisis affects all of us, regardless of religion, race, social or financial standing.
People have called this “the great equaliser”.
So, if you are fortunate enough financially, help others who aren’t.
You could buy a month of necessities for your nanny, driver, or elderly neighbour.
Or, simply educate them about the pandemic and the idea of social distancing to ease their fears.
They are likely at a greater risk than you.
2. Check your survival cash
Have enough cash in your bank account.
Around 3-6 months of emergency funds is a good idea at all times and certainly now since no one knows what the new year may bring.
Keep this for essentials like food, medication, shelter and basic utilities.
3. Get the basics right
After ensuring an emergency fund, and adequate life and health insurance, consider investing the rest.
Choose a low-cost, globally diversified and systematic investment strategy that suits your long-term goals.
Keep your head, stay disciplined and take the advice of a fiduciary.
They are the only financial professionals obliged to give you the same advice they’d give their family members.
4. Review your plan
Take a hard look at your portfolio.
Try not to obsess about the pain of the market volatility.
Instead, review your plan and ensure it will weather the storm.
Then remember, the markets always recover.
5. Do it together
Discuss your financial situation with your spouse.
Every member of the family must know the true financial condition of the family and be willing to change their saving and spending habits during uncertain times.
Getting through this together will help you all deal better with future emergencies.
6. Be with your kids
Spend time teaching your kids about the importance of financial literacy, as well as building the right habits and attitude.
Take time out to read and write with them.
Aside from education, enjoy activities like cooking, exercising and meditating.
7. Be with your parents
While social distancing might prevent this physically, you can use this time to reconnect in other ways.
Call them or show them how to use Skype, Zoom or something similar.
Now is the time to slow down and match your pace to your ageing parents’.
Spend time with them, listen to them and learn how they have dealt with emergencies in their lives.
After all, they’ve lived longer than you and have so much wisdom to share.
8. Get your documents in order
Get your financial and other important and essential information in order.
Don’t just have soft copies of these documents.
Print them, sit and talk about them with your spouse.
Then, store them safely at home.
9. Read more
“I don’t have time” is an excuse we’ve all used.
Pick up the books gathering dust on the shelf.
Read and discover more about yourself, your business and relationships.
Click here for ideas on essential reading.
10. Prepare for the future
Re-skill yourself and keep learning.
Technology has made the world’s best teaching available, right at our fingertips.
Those who don’t possess up-to-date skills and knowledge may be left behind.
Consider these 450+ Ivy League courses you can take online right now for free.
Call up friends and distant family members and ask how they are.
Be positive and cheerful.
Help them be more optimistic and guide them to prepare for any emergency.
Tell them all you have learned above and perhaps even share the link.
All we have is now.
The best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to focus on today.
As the Roman philosopher Lucius Seneca wrote in his 2,000-year-old treatise On the Shortness of Life…
“The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.”
And as Viktor Frankl wrote about his experiences as a German Nazi concentration camp inmate during World War II:
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.”
It’s easy to be caught up in what’s happening around us.
The real challenge, and value, lies in being able to control what's happening within us.