Isolation Guide #4: Career and Financial Stability

Isolation Guide #4: Career and Financial Stability

Create financial stability in time of crisis like Coronavirus

Work on this:
Define financial stability 
Have set work hours – and stick to them.
Use “down time” to reflect on and map out your career/financial goals and intentions. Find your flow in work.
Learn something new.
Ask for help and help others.

I’ve seen several financial windfalls: Dotcom bust, 9-11, SARS in Hong Kong, and the financial crisis seasons. During those times I was blessed to have a job and stability. This time I don’t. But those times taught me how to live frugally and modestly.

In times of uncertainty, financial and professional stability––or the loss of both––can be a source of deep anxiety, fear, and restlessness. That’s way financial stability and career section is impertinent to Ultimate Well Being. Let’s be honest, some money can buy you happiness. The research shows up to $75,000 in the USA is when diminishing marginal returns to happiness occurs. That mark,incidentally, is the cutoff for the stimulation checks.

“Business as usual” has ground to a halt and it will be years before it recovers to the same hectic world we were part of. Record-setting numbers of citizens registered for unemployment in the United States in March, and the rolls are increasing week over week. Governments around the world are working on policies to create economic tranches for their companies and workers. No matter our career trajectories, industry backgrounds or current financial circumstances, we all have a road to recovery ahead. But also prepare if we don’t.

So with no clear end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, what resources do we have at our disposal to mitigate fear and paralysis about money and our careers? How can we maintain or even grow our (UWB) Ultimate Well-Being in the face of such great unknowns?

FIRST AND FOREMOST: Define financial stability for yourself.

Finding and maintaining financial stability, for many, is always front and center. Now, COVID-19’s implications about our financial health are top-of-mind for us all. Both within and without of crisis situations, it’s critical to develop an understanding of our personal relationship to money, wealth, and our definition of financial wellbeing. Not just that, it’s important to understand our risk tolerance.

Start with simple questions and thoughts:

  • Are your basic needs met? We all know Pavlov. Start there. If not, what are some changes you can make––either in your spending habits or ways you generate income? From our research, it appears that working toward saving 12 months of emergency cash flow is the best possible game plan for weathering an economic downturn.
  • What does financial stability look like to me? Journal this and make a plan for the Crisis.
  • What level of understanding and control do I have with my budget, income and obligations? If you are lacking there look for courses and programs to help. This is a great time to make a new budget and track your expenses.
  • Understand your risk profile. Some investors are saying to buy on the downturn but “don’t catch a falling knife”. I’ve done that several times with stocks.
  • Particular at this time, know what is going to make you happy. If you want to take a risky bet and can afford to, then go for it. If you can’t then don’t. You may just want to see savings.
  • Know what you don’t know. We don’t know how long this is going to linger. Furthermore, we don’t know how this will impact global relationships particularly with China. It could get really ugly and most likely will.

Have set work hours – and stick to them.

For many of us, home now doubles as our office. There is, theoretically, nothing keeping us from going online, checking email incessantly, or taking phone calls at any time of day or night.

More than ever, it’s critical to create boundaries between our work and personal lives––and to do everything in our power to hold them sacred. So what does this type of “balance” look like?

Define a select number of tasks to complete at the beginning of each day. Once you’ve checked off the list, switch gears. Use whatever mental model works best for you. Put your work devices away. Set a Pomodoro-like timer that blocks access to your inbox and other work-related sites.

Use “down time” to reflect on and map out your goals and intentions.

Ordinarily, we have trouble stopping to reflect on the abstract, high-level concepts that often underpin our core beliefs and behaviors. Use the time you previously spent commuting or in meetings to write down answers to these types of higher-level questions, such as:

  • What is my relationship with money? How and why do I spend and invest the way I do?
  • How much value do I place on financial freedom and purchasing power? What would my life look like if I had financial freedom? How would I get there?
  • Does my job fulfill me and provide for me?
  • Can I achieve flow in my job? This is a great assessment if you really love what you do. This comes from an old Davidson College visiting professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He also talks about how much money you need to be happy.

  • What is the purpose of my career (e.g.: do I consider my career a place to live out and realize my life’s calling, or is my career primarily a means of generating income)? Depending on your time in life, either are good paths to take.
  • An easier way to ask this is how can I achieve flow and make the amount of money I need/want?

Learn something new.

Perhaps more than any other, this moment in our lives has created a unique opportunity for us to re-define our relationships to our jobs and professions. As evidenced by the world continuing to turn with so many businesses in limbo, we are not the companies we work for. We are not the products or services we offer. Even the world’s biggest, most successful companies recognize the importance of allowing employees to spend time learning for the sake of learning, pursuing their passions, getting to know themselves better and exploring their curiosities.

With more resources for independent learning available now than ever before, we have a new means at our disposal to research and practice anything we want––career-related or unrelated. Tapping into your creative energy and connecting with others through the myriad platforms you have at your disposal will align the goals you set and the time you spend with the other facets of your Ultimate Well-Being.

In the last two years i’ve taken 10 online classes in public speaking, R programming,

Stanford online has amazing courses. I’ve taken 10 the last two years. 

Berkeley also has strong online programs.

Aside from those there are many portals like Udemy, Coursera, and Lynda.

In the last two years i’ve taken 10 online classes in public speaking, R programming,

Ask for help and help others.

Over the past several weeks, you’ve probably been using our Isolation Guides to combat feelings of boredom, claustrophobia, and loneliness. This may come as no surprise, but you’re not alone. Nearly everyone you know is experiencing the same feelings, trying to create and stick to coping mechanisms, and reaching out for support to break bad patterns and build healthy habits. More than ever before, people near and far are not only willing to help, they want to help. What career-related questions do you have? What financial problem are you trying to solve? There is no time like this present moment to both give and get help from subject matter experts who want and need to provide value and, in doing so, make the connections we crave.

Also, research shows that through giving we can enhance our well-being. We don’t have to give money, per se, but we can give help, advice, and thoughts on how to get through this time. Try it at least once per day.

Show grace and empathy––to others as well as yourself.

The past several weeks have, for many, felt like the most disruptive, surreal set of experiences in any of our lives. We’re changing routines, sharing our homes, rebuilding our day-to-day lives from scratch––all while trying to figure out how to remain “productive.” The strange, disruptive nature of how our lives and the lives of how everyone we know are affected should not be minimized. Be compassionate with yourself, as well as with those around you who are doing their damnedest to keep their heads above water. Be grateful for your physical health, relative safety, and any resources you have that keep you connected with your families and loved ones from afar. In times like these, we need healthful relationships more than ever. Treat others how they need and want to be treated––with gentleness, compassion, patience and understanding.

Check back next week for our Isolation Guide Part Five on Social Wellbeing!


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