This post will outline some practical things you can do when your plans change suddenly and unexpectedly due to COVID-19.
COVID-19 has suddenly and unexpectedly changed many of our plans. For me, I went from constantly rushing to meet deadlines to suddenly having month-long extensions and uncertain return-dates.
At first, it was a welcomed change of pace. It felt nice to take a breather to catch-up and have more planning time for what I thought would be a one to two week pause.
Unfortunately, the uncertain times are likely to continue and many small businesses will suffer. Despite best efforts, people will lose their jobs.
In this extra-challenging time, this blog post is meant to be encouraging and practical.
What to do when plans change?
Instead of criticizing, assume people are doing the best they can.
According to Brené Brown, expert on recovering from trauma and building resiliency, people who have the capacity to lean fully into joy have one variable in common: they practice gratitude. When planning for next steps or plan B, start by doing something tangible and observable to practice gratitude. Maybe to you that means saying a prayer, or maybe it is telling someone that they make a difference in your life, or maybe it is keeping a gratitude journal.
In Tim Ferriss' Ted Talk, "Why you should define your fears instead of your goals", he explains why fear setting is an important tool to help us overcome the fear of making difficult choices.
Fear setting is a three-page checklist of your fears, and the possible results of action or inaction. It is designed to help you visualize all the bad things that could happen to you, so you become less afraid of taking action. To summarize, fear setting involves the following steps:
- You start by making a list naming the worst things that could happen. For example, if you have recently started a business (like I did), you could list the very real fears that you will have trouble connecting with new clients or that you will not be able to pay the bills.
- Next, you make a list of how you can prevent those fears from happening. For example, to continue with my example, you could apply for a line of credit or you could focus on creating an amazing marketing plan.
- After that, make a list focused on repair. In other words, if the worst happens, list how to repair each bad thing. For example, if as a new business you struggle to get clients and if an awesome marketing plan does not work in the current climate, you could ask an expert marketing friend for suggestions. Or, you could focus on getting business from existing clients instead of acquiring new ones.
- Next, make a list of of all the possible benefits from taking action. For example, if you are afraid to put yourself out there, think of all the amazing opportunities that could come from trying.
- Finally, and very importantly, make a list of the cost of inaction during this time. Too often we forget that there is a cost of staying in the status quo. Maybe you are afraid to switch careers because of all the time you have invested into your current one. It is important to consider the possibility that you could be happier and more fulfilled by making a change. There is always risk in not taking action.
Ask for help.
People will not be able to help you if they do not know what you need. Check-in with your community and see if there is anything you can do for them. For example, if you have a friend or colleague that recently lost their job, maybe you can offer to be a reference and send interesting job postings their way.
If I can support you in any way, please reach out. Here are some ways I can help:
- If your employment situation is affected by the US-Canada border limitations. I am on the same boat and more than happy to discuss ways to mitigate the changes.
- If you are suddenly having to run a virtual law firm, I have spent countless of hours making that happen and I am happy to share suggestions and my experience transitioning.
- If you are looking for business management or law practice management resources, I'm going to be posting a list of book recommendations soon.
"Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life." - Jerzy Greorek
Jerzy Gregorek emigrated to the United States from Poland as a political refugee. He went from battling with alcoholism to win four World Weightlifting Championships.