Life does not always go as planned, and sometimes there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it. Darkness falls upon us at various times in our lives. None of the general public saw COVID19 coming, and to a large degree the people who should have seen it coming didn’t either. A car accident is never planned, a break up can come out of nowhere, and getting fired from a job is always a slight to reasonable possibility, depending on your situation. So, how do you prepare for these kind of things?
To some degree you can’t. You won’t know what is coming your way, and trying to prepare for everything, or guess which negative event is headed your way is not likely to work. But, there are things you can do to create some “safety nets”. Here are some of my “go to” preps in case of a game-changing event:
1. Get your finances in order – I can’t tell you how much better I sleep knowing I have enough money in the bank to go a minimum of six months without working. If my company closed down, got bought out, or whatever other factor my lead to me no longer working there, I am good for a while. Yes, it would be stressful, that is unavoidable. But it will be WAY LESS stressful if I have no financial concerns for the next six months.
Now, this is a twofold process…
A. Get out of debt ASAP – the less money you have going out every month, the better off you will be. Get your credit card bills under control, and ideally paid off. The interest rates are making the banks rich and you poor. If your vehicle expenses are a major concern every month, sell that thing and get something more affordable. Ideally you should pay cash for a car and have no monthly expense; it may take a while to get to that point, but driving a cheap car for a year or two will greatly pay off in the long run. Keep in mind, it is not a life sentence, it is a temporary lifestyle adjustment.
B. Live below your means – You need to quit worrying about the perceptions of others and live a lifestyle you can afford. You don’t need to live in a house or apartment that has more rooms than you will need/use. You don’t need to drive a car that is brand new and cool looking. These things are your ego talking, and not your brain. Be smart and set up a lifestyle that has you putting money aside every month, not juggling who to pay now and who has the cheapest late payment fees.
Bottom Line: You have way more freedom and way less to worry about if you don’t have a ton of bills to pay. If I lost my job, I could cover the household expenses delivering pizzas if necessary….and that’s after my six months of cash on hand is used up.
2. Stock pile while you can – As a general rule, you should assume that no one is coming to rescue you in case of an actual disaster. Therefore, you need to be self-sufficient for as long as possible. For example, as if the COVID19 lockdowns weren’t enough to deal with this summer, in California there are wildfires and rolling blackouts due to a failing power grid. Imagine sitting in your house with the outside temperature over 100 degrees, and you have no lights and NO AIR CONDITIONING! That would suck…
When the COVID19 pandemic set in, there was a mad rush on toilet paper. Sounds crazy in retrospect, but literally if you went to the store there was no toilet paper to be found. In my household, we always have a two month supply of basic essentials like TP, paper towels, batteries, dry foods like pasta, peanut butter and more, as well as a fair amount of frozen meat that can be stretched out over several weeks if needed.
Bottom line: We didn’t have to throw elbows at the store, or even leave the house when things ramped up.
3. Take advantage of the changes – Personally I am thriving in this new normal we all are experiencing during the pandemic. I work out more often, have spent a lot of time outdoors, spent way more time with my wife, and have gotten a lot of things done. Our list of household projects is dwindling quickly, as well as posting a new blog almost every day. I am booking virtual speaking gigs that can easily coincide with my day job. Reframe the usual rhetoric that everyone else is spouting and take advantage of more time on your hands. Learn a new language, take up a new hobby, read, write that book you’ve always wanted to, whatever it is,…do something! And I don’t mean logging more hours on your video game console, I mean actual productive, beneficial things.
I cancelled my gym membership, and don’t plan on going back any time soon. I love the outdoor workouts, and the vitamin D benefits are wide and deep. If I felt compelled to (and to be clear…I DO NOT!) but I could start playing pickleball to replace the fact that I am not able to play racquetball right now. I still believe I am too good of an athlete to play a sport that involves so little movement. If my knees ever give out, or I develop back problems that limit my abilities, then I will take up pickleball. Hahahaha.
Bottom line: Embrace the changes and new opportunities, don’t fight it.
4. Be good to yourself – Be sure to have a gratitude plan for each day. It sounds cheesy, but it is very true that your mindset is going to dictate most of the outcomes in your life. If you start each day reminding yourself of three things that you are grateful for, this will help keep your mindset positive and help ensure that the weight of whatever you are dealing with does not totally overwhelm you. Individuals will see varying degrees of success with this, as it takes practice and you need to learn to short circuit the waves of negativity that try to cascade over you. Training your mind to not speed down the path of anxiety is not easy, but there are lots of tricks and techniques that would help. Use your new found time to address these issues, as this will pay dividends LONG into the future.
Bottom line: Cage that monkey mind of yours through discipline and practice.
5. Understand that everything is temporary, even life itself. Don’t lose sight of the fact that everything you are dealing with right now, and in the long run, life itself is not permanent. Be sure to remind yourself of this on occasion, and the more the better. You don’t have forever; whatever you have on your plate now is not a permanent problem. If things are going well, they will change at some point This is not a negative viewpoint, this is realistic. I have lived long enough to know better. So, I plan accordingly. I don’t sit around and dwell on “when it something bad gonna happen”, but if i am prepared with the things on this list, I can toll with the punches a lot better.
Bottom line: Sh*t happens. Be prepared and have some safety nets in place.