The gist: When the world is in turmoil, opportunities for a better future are all around. To seize them, you must control your anxiety.
If you’re thinking, “The last thing I need right now is another article explaining the coronavirus” then I have good news for you.
This is a message about the coronavirus, but not anything like the 500+ others you’ve read telling you how afraid to be or not to be and how to protect yourself, etc. That shall be left to the medical experts.
Instead, this message is about how to rise above the global panic and seize the opportunities that exist all around you. Because there are many.
Multiple worldwide problems have collided to create a kind of perfect storm of anxiety for most, but I’d like to challenge you to think a little differently. A little more positively.
It’s not wrong to be worried in times like these. Take the actions you believe necessary to protect yourself and those around you.
But also realize that every time normalcy is disrupted, there are vast opportunities to capitalize on.
There are too many to list, but here are a few that a driven introvert like you can choose from to improve your life, career, and finances.
Pick one or two that look good to you and get to work.
Showcase the power of remote work
Businesses big and small are being forced to embrace remote work right now for the safety of their employees. Most of them are doing so reluctantly. There will be intense focus on productivity.
With the high expectation of failure, this is a tremendous opportunity to showcase your ability to be productive from home.
If you can do so during a time of global panic, at the drop of a hat, with no resources or established policies, you’ll be in an excellent position to show not only that it worked, but it can be much better. That perhaps it’s future of work.
If you have a job that can be done remotely, you have an opportunity to change some deep, institutional beliefs that will benefit your wellbeing.
If you need some help getting organized and figuring out how to work in a productive and systematic way from home, there’s training for that.
Build deeper relationships from a distance
Relationships are a universal currency. But we introverts don’t have a lot of internal motivation to do in-person connection building. At least not at scale.
Where we excel, though, is in distance-based relationships. We forge connections through multiple channels and online communities.
With mandatory work from home policies being implemented all over the globe, it’s your time to shine. Start thinking about the in-person relationships you have that could take on a new form in our current reality.
Right now is the perfect time to start systematically thinking about how you can build relationships using your strengths as an introvert.
I cover this in depth in our Connect + Lead course. Check it out.
Improve your emotional regulation
There’s nothing quite like a global pandemic and economic meltdown to grab your attention, work you into an anxious mess, and leave you feeling scared, alone, and helpless.
A lot is happening, and you have no control over most of it. But a lot more is happening every day that you do have control of. Primarily, how you react to it.
When you’re watching the news or reading your social media feeds, take notice of what you’re thinking and how your body is reacting.
Information travels so fast these days. News is reported (and re-reported) 24/7. Your friends’ and family’s opinions are available with a click and boiled down to tiny, digestible snippets.
You don’t have to swim in this river. Most of the information you need you already have. If something changes, you’ll hear about it.
Make it part of your work to spend at least 10 minutes per day taking stock of your emotions and how you’re responding to them.
Are you dealing with this all in a healthy way? What about all the things you do control? Are you paying attention to those? And are you making good decisions about them?
This is an opportunity to improve your mental toughness and make smart choices when others are allowing uncertainty to rule them.
Schedule PTO for your next vacation
Sounds crazy, right? No, don’t book a trip to Milan for this weekend, but do start thinking about where you want to go this fall.
The travel industry is hurting in a big way right now. Airlines, hotels, cruise operators and all the smaller businesses that service them are doing anything they can to attract revenue.
Prices—even for future bookings—are incredibly low and lots of travel companies are offering free cancellation or postponement policies to those who are booking now.
So, even if you have to use your PTO for something else before then or the coronavirus is still wreaking havoc in 6 months, you can back out or postpone till later.
Get a really cheap home loan
Mortgage rates are high right now due to incredible demand. Banks aren’t liquid enough to lend to everyone and can’t process enough applications to keep up. So, they are raising their rates and only writing loans that will make them big bucks.
But that will probably change, and sharply, once they’ve worked through the backlog and demand dies down.
Check rates locally and through the larger, online lending houses once every few days to see what the rates are doing.
I’d expect to see these changes come at the local level (local banks and credit unions) before the big lending houses. You could land a great deal on a long, fixed rate that can increase stability in your financial life.
Not sure if or when to refinance? Google will lead you to numerous calculators to help you decide. Nerdwallet’s calculator is a good one.
Pick up a side gig in delivery
More and more people are staying home right now, but everyday things still need to be done. Grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, running errands, etc.
And I imagine many folks will soon want some restaurant quality food but not want to risk going to a restaurant for it.
If you want (or need) to earn some money while we work through this pandemic, you can try delivering for one of the many food delivery services like GrubHub, UberEats or Postmates. You could offer to run errands on a platform like TaskRabbit or even offering services to your neighbors on Nextdoor. Instacart is a grocery delivery service you might try.
There are a lot more opportunities than just these. Look around and notice what people in your community need.
This is low-human-contact work that can be done safely with just a little hygienic diligence.
Invest in your retirement
There are always opportunities to get ahead when everyone else sees only doom and gloom. The financial markets are consistently an excellent example.
Everyone knows markets rise and fall in cycles. But many people forget that during times like these and make big mistakes that create opportunities for you.
You can’t know where the top or bottom of any given cycle is until it’s behind you, but you can usually be sure that if things are going great, they’ll change. And if things are going terribly… they’ll change!
Markets trend upwards over time. As long as you believe the best days for humanity are still ahead of us, you can confidently put your money to work for you.
If your retirement is 10 or more years away, you’ll find very few investors who got started during a downturn or stayed the course through the worst of times and were anything but thrilled with how it turned out in the long run.
Improve your emergency preparedness plan
I live in earthquake country. Everyone here knows they should be ready to shelter in place for at least a few weeks if a big one hits.
When the coronavirus news started to pick up, I took it as an opportunity to review our current preparations, and I found some weak points. This has been the perfect opportunity for my family to become better prepared for the most likely issues we’ll face in the future.
Life is busy, and it can be hard to find the time or motivation to do things to make future you better or more prepared for chaos. Nothing like a little global panic to spur yourself to take actions that will help you live your daily life without anxiety.
Invest in online training
If you had a long commute and you’re working from home now, you just gained some valuable free time.
Rather than sleep in later, you can use that time to invest in yourself and your future. Are there any skills you’ve wanted to learn or improve? Any credentials you could pick up that would advance your career?
Now might be the perfect time to get started. It’ll be an excellent distraction from the endless newsfeed of doom. You can learn almost any skill you want on platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, or Kahn Academy.
Here at Riskology, we have several excellent professional development courses that our readers love.
Don’t let uncertainty beat you down
It’s easy to let the uncertainties of life drive you to anxiety. It can begin to feel like you’re powerless and things are just happening to you.
But no matter what happens, you always get to decide how you react.
There are opportunities everywhere. Just look around. You’ll see them. People—including yourself—have needs to be fulfilled, and you can fulfill them.
I hope the examples above help you begin to see a bright future at a time when things look a little dark.