Had COVID-19 never happened, I would have woken up early Monday morning, hugged my parents goodbye and taken off on a trip across the country with my cat. Since the pandemic started, I have spent a lot of time revising my plan by creating contingency after contingency for the road ahead.
But, it’s not just my tiny home plans that took a hit. My business lost 90% of its pre-COVID-19 clients. I was fortunate enough to book three new ones shortly afterward that filled the gap, but replacing several clients with three is risky. It also means less diversity for me when it comes to work.
Nevertheless, I am grateful. Of all my business owner friends, 50% of us still have a business and the other 50% have none. There is no in-between. Those who lost all their clients so far continue to check in with the rest of us to offer advice and feedback wherever they can.
Every week, I watch the work queues go down to zero and I wonder if it will refill. When this happens, I wait for the panic to come, but it never does. I have suffered enough disappointments in my life to learn to delay my emotions. I put them in a box for later and then take them out when I feel up to the challenge.
Meanwhile, the SBA has yet to get back to me regarding my loan and PayPal denied me for the Paycheck Protection Program. It said it made its decision based on my credit score, then provided a Transunion transcript that calculated my credit score at a whopping 800. When you figure out how that makes sense, feel free to let me know.
So, when the queue folders go down to zero, I finish the work I still have assigned, shut the computer down and wait to see what tomorrow will hold. So far, I have continued to make quota and that gives me some confidence in the process.
It makes me feel a little more sure when I tell myself, “Things will work out, and if they don’t, I’ve planned for that, too.”
A few days ago, someone asked how the rest of us were holding up when it came to plans. I responded with the fact that I would much rather have a changeable plan than none at all. For days afterward, however, I began to pay attention to how I handled uncertainty as it arose day after day after day.
I make the plans anyway. I'd rather have plans I can change or edit than have nothing in place at all. https://t.co/an38e0HWKJ
— Alexis Chateau 🇯🇲🇺🇸 (@alexischateau_) May 12, 2020
I also paid closer attention to the many plans that other people cancelled because of the pandemic. I’m not the only one who had planned to move across the country. Some others planned to move out of the country they lived in altogether. I also have friends who were about to assume new roles due to promotions just before the company they worked for shut its doors and cut their pay.
I think also of the people who planned to retire on income derived from stock-based investments. The market has been flip-flopping back and forth for months now. My Betterment-managed investment account has been in a loss since mid-March. My self-managed e-Trade account has varied from $40 of profit to just as much in loss.
Thankfully, I am a long-term investor nowhere near retirement and have the luxury of simply not checking. Imagine everyone else who doesn’t fit into this neat, convenient little box and whose heart races every time the stock market plummets.
Embracing the Present
As a teenager, I survived an abusive parent by telling myself time and time again:
If you can’t look up, look ahead.
This has been my life motto for as long as I can remember. It is also at the root of my ability to delay my emotions. When things do not go as planned, I don’t distract myself with food, drugs, movies or relationships. I plan my way out of the problem — and then I execute.
Yet, here comes the first challenge in my life where doing the exact opposite is what it takes to maintain sanity. I am learning to take things one day at a time and one step at a time. It is no easy task for a planner who almost always lives in the future, but there is no real growth without a real obstacle and here is mine.
As I mentioned earlier, I find this easiest to do with my business. After all, who am I to complain about having some extra free time on my hand? But, I find it is far more challenging to apply to personal plans. Learning to be more present and more appreciative of current realities is definitely the challenge I plan to take on for 2020.
What about you? What plans did you lose to COVID-19? How have you been coping with the uncertainties ahead?