It's Hard, But Now's the Time to Zoom in and Focus on the Right Thing

“However long the night, the dawn will break.”
African Proverb

And right now the night sure seems long, and getting longer! 

This past Friday, the U.S. unemployment numbers ballooned by an additional 6.6 million. Due to the reporting time lag plus those having difficulty filing for unemployment, this number is likely far higher. 

As I’m writing this, the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is slightly over 330,000. Nearly half of that number is in New York State, and half of that number is in New York City. We still haven’t reached the peak here in NYC, let alone gotten anywhere near flattening the curve. So, if you don’t live here or know anyone who does and are wondering: yes, it is stressful, unsettling and a tad-bit bleak. 

In moments like this, it’s natural to feel fearful; it’s understandable if self-doubt and pessimism seep in. In moments like this, it is often hard to remember that you’ve experienced challenging times before and survived. Especially when we are in a deep crisis of this magnitude. 

In my opinion, the hardest part about moments like this is how they can hijack your attention and have you focused on everything that is bad, that isn’t going well, and that still may go wrong.

I’m not on your screen to give you a hollow, virtual pat on the back and say, “Everything will be okay.” Nor, am I here to suggest how you should feel. That would be woefully inappropriate as well as dismissive at any time, but especially now.

However, as long as you are healthy and capable, I am here to ask you not to let the weight of the bleak numbers (and news) overtake you. Don’t let them cause you to lose sight of the good that is yet still possible. 

Time to Zoom In 

It’s not pollyannaish to invite you to embrace a possibility mindset. At least not in the way I mean it. Let me elaborate.

You, me, everyone – we all are in recalibration mode regarding how we live, work and socialize. The degree and effects may not be felt equally, but no one is immune from them

For instance…

On Friday, I had a virtual huddle with one of my business buddies. We both live in hot spots (she in California; me in Brooklyn). And, for both of us, hosting in-person events, along with our speaking engagements, have come to a complete halt. During our discussion, we both estimated that it will likely be 12-18 months before those parts of our businesses get back to “normal.”

Thus, I need to recalibrate aspects of my business, accordingly. She’s in the process of doing the same. (Sidebar: If you don’t have a crew you can huddle with to brainstorm and strategize with, now is the time to form or join one!)

For me, the recalibration process is a combination of getting practical and leaning into what’s possible. Here’s how I’m doing that in case the approach I’m taking can help you:

First, get narrow.  

If you’ve ever heard me describe my business or have read my website, you know I say that I have three pillars: I provide coaching (for singles, couples, and entrepreneurs/small business owners); I’m a for-hire speaker; and I host events. I’ve been asking myself a lot of “what if?”and “what would it look like?” types questions regarding my coaching practice in the last three weeks.

For example, what if I only worked with entrepreneurs/small business owners doing either personal finance coaching or business and personal finance coaching. I haven’t made a determination yet, but I’m noodling on what that would look like. Mainly because 75 percent of my current coaching clients fit that profile. (Sidenote: For whatever it is worth, simply saying this out loud to anyone other than my crew feels like I’m cutting off a limb.)

Yet, this is one way for me to respond to the shifts happening around me: Get narrow whilst still being of service, and taking care of me and my business. 

Sure, your specific situation may not be similar to mine. But in what ways might you benefit from getting narrow – professionally and/or personally?

Second, expand.

Wait, what?! I know it sounds like a contradiction to what I just shared above. But it isn’t. To me, “expand” is about the power of leveraging and collaborating

The potential collaborations as well as those I’m already working on are (a) amazing (!), and (b) with some pretty cool people and companies. All but three came about after March 15th! (Sidenote: Relationships and strong connections matter! Nurture them in good and challenging times.)

With whom could you collaborate and what might that look like? 

Time to Focus

Third, focus (on the right thing)

There are aspects of COVID-19 that feel very dystopian to me, and remind me of books written by one of my favorite sci-fi authors, Octavia Butler. Crises of this scope reorient everyone and everything – in fiction and non-fiction. In the process, it reveals what some already knew, what others knew and chose to ignore, and what a smaller few are just now discovering. 

Seemingly overnight, March brought into sharper focus the harsh realities about the financial vulnerabilities in some of our households, businesses (of all sizes and types, but especially serviced-based), and government. It’s revealed how frail our healthcare system truly is – especially for those already marginalized. And when it comes to our government, it’s put an even larger spotlight on those elected officials who simply do not care. 

In the midst of this bleakness, it’s hard not to focus on the gloom. Yet, that is precisely what is required of us — to believe in what’s possible and good. 

We must walk that tightrope of being practical by acknowledging the day-to-day realities, while also focusing our attention on what’s possible

Therefore, take care of yourself so you can hold onto hope. Remember the strength you discovered – the strength that carried you through other crises. And as important, find gratitude in the smallest and simplest of things and moments.

Because when we get on the other side of this pandemic and financial crisis, things will be different. It’s up to us to make them different and better. #alonetogether

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