It's a time of great dread. Canadians are hunkered down in their homes, growing increasingly bored, restless, and uncertain about the future.
The voracious contagion COVID-19 has brought the world to a standstill. As we struggle to process the pandemic's rising death toll and reel from its economic impact, we can't move or gather together freely. It's scary, and we're experiencing loss because we've lost our sense of security.
The world is mourning on a wide scale, grieving what we haven't yet lost. We're collectively experiencing an emotional state called anticipatory grief. We're in the process of grieving before we actually lose the thing.
With coronavirus, the threat of infection and illness seems to lurk around every corner of our lives. We feel powerless, and misfortune seems inevitable. The uncertainty and lack of control easily builds into anticipatory grief.
My hope is that no matter where you are along the continuum of grief, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this. It will suck. Many businesses will not open again. Many will lose a loved one. All of us will have to redesign our lives and start over. The faster we can get through the stages of grief the faster we can realize the amazing opportunities we have during and on the other side of it.
Stage 1: Denial
Many people are still experiencing shock and disbelief. Ears plugged blah blah blah. Fake smile and busy work to occupy our minds so we don't have to face reality.
Statistically, it's probable that my family and I will get COVID-19, but we are fine today, so I believe we won't (denial).
You don't want to believe the world as you know it could be coming to an end, so it's easier to pretend it's not happening. That's denial.
Stage 2: Pain and Guilt
You've switched to working from home and that's complicated. You're probably having thoughts like:
I'm not doing my work as well as I should be
I'm not being a good parent — my kids have had way too much screen time
I can't help my parents the way I would like
I wish I could help those less fortunate than me. It's not fair that I have food and a home where I can comfortably shelter in place
Stage 3: Anger and Bargaining
You're likely feeling anger at what's going on, as well as at the loss of control in your life. Anger is about anxiety and frustration. There's an overwhelming amount of that feeling right now.
You might be subconsciously seeking someone to direct your anger at. Capitalism, the Government, a Government Official, China, or Donald Trump etc…..
Everyone knows that just because someone is Asian or works at a bank doesn't mean they are the cause of the problem and yet the bank worker gets abused and racist comments illustrate how scared and angry some people are.
We don't know when or how this will end. We don't know who will survive and who will not. The future is unsure, so it might be best to do nothing.
Bargaining shows itself as struggling to find meaning and looking to others to solve this problem for us. Many hunt for leadership to avoid making the hard decisions for themselves.
Stage 4: Depression and Loneliness
After 3 weeks of "lock-down", I've had waves of depression and loneliness. I'm guessing you have, too. It's hard to be away from friends, family, and colleagues. Although talking on the phone and video chat helps, it doesn't feel like enough.
My love language is touch. There are people in my life I wish I could hug and hold. I'm sad, and I'm sure you are, too. We are all grieving for the life we had only a few short weeks ago.
Stage 5: Acceptance
Melanie is doing an amazing job of homeschooling our kids but we have come to terms with the fact that we are not perfect parents. My kids will not stick to a schedule or do all of their schoolwork or chores and that's okay. They are going through the stages of grief as well. They miss their friends, dance classes and school too. Don't forget this when they act out. It's the only way they know how to express what they feel as they don't have the words.
We live in a changing world. Crises like this helps us reprioritize what's important in our lives. We can only hope that this crisis is the catalyst for some good down the road.
If you have gone through the stages and are ready to embrace the suck and do what needs to be done here is a next action list you may find useful.
Get Honest - you must get rid of something to make room for the new. The addition of information or another process does not create change.
"Trim the Fat" or as Grant Cardone says "Take Yourself to Zero"
Most people's largest expenses are housing and transportation so these are the areas you can get the biggest savings the fastest.
If you're renting or own a house that's too big to hold the stuff you don't use, it's time to purge. An asset is something that puts money in your pocket. If you have a house, that you live in, then it really isn't an asset. Instead of putting money in your pocket, it takes money out of your pocket in the form of a mortgage, utility payments, taxes, maintenance, and more. "That is the definition of a liability." Robert Kiyosaki.
How much are you paying for the privilege of owning? How much would you pay to rent a house like yours compared to what you pay to own it? The difference is your luxury expense. The average rent for a 2 bedroom house in Edmonton is $1459, a 3 bedroom is $2116. A 2 bedroom townhouse or duplex is $1348 per month and a 3 bedroom is $1636. You might consider Renting your house out to turn it into an asset rather than selling it. I will add that devices and systems that allow you to save money are assets. If your house is paid down so the expenses to operate it are less than the average housing cost you would spend renting. You might consider it an asset. You can rent out storage space, take in a roommate, grow your own food or operate a business to turn a home into an asset.
Let go of your ego
If you have car payments or pay to operate and store spare vehicles. It's time to let them go.
Get rid of any extra expenses in your budget. You might even get rid of TV and embrace our new normal to learn a new skill. Make music or learn about monetary policy, world finance, and politics. (I can no longer just hope my vote is enough. I'm advocating with North99) The kids won't remember the TV show they watched last week. They will always remember the time spent with you.
I know that this might still sound extreme to you. It can be hard to imagine letting go of some things. It can feel like your life is ending. I was once staring into the abyss of financial ruin when I asked myself "if the worst happens then what?" Play it out and ask yourself over and over. I learned what rock bottom really looks like. Having a picture of the bottom is always better than holding onto the fear. I learned what is really important and what isn't. It's better to overreact than wish you did more.
Make a list of your assets and liabilities
Inventory your time
Inventory your contacts
Get rid of anything that doesn't help you.
Focus on what you do have.
Make a plan and get disciplined
Join forces with those who are getting real and are determined to come out of this bigger, stronger and more confident.
I could tell you how real estate Investing in core human needs like housing is way more secure than the stock market. There's an argument that people need you to buy their house for a steal of a deal and buying low when everyone else is scared is how you become wealthy. The truth is if you haven't had time to get real and take yourself to zero yet. Being in acquisition mode right now is reckless for the majority of investors.
The faster you can get to accepting the reality of our new normal and start taking action, the less pain you will experience.
P.S. I know this is hard news to receive and your first reaction might be this is for other people, not me. This is the new reality for business owners, rich, poor, middle class, dual-income, single income. White, black, red, or green. It is crucial for us all to shed the old and work together to rebuild a better Canada. A more transparent and democratic government. A resilient and robust economy, ensuring everyone can fully participate to their potential.
A human-centred capitalism that promotes innovation as well as the social and economic well-being of individuals, families, and communities across Canada. Where money is a medium to trade and not the purpose and motivation of society. A future where Money is regarded as just an indicator and the real measure is the happiness of everyone.