Don’t hope for the past…plan for the future…

OK, I get it. These are uncertain times. We’re all in this together. We’re here for you. Yada, yada, yada. I think most have gotten the message, even if some reject the need for the precautions that government leaders have imposed. So, what now?

Many seem to be sitting around hoping and waiting for things to return to the old “normal” that we had, before all of this happened. Guess what, Yolanda? It aint’t gonna happen. When the dust settles, things will be permanently different. We need to accept that and plan for our new lives in the new reality that we are living in.

There will be people who are no longer with us. There will be businesses that didn’t make it through the crisis. There will be new rules for how we live and work together. There will be a new appreciation of how fragile our lives really are and how precious the time is that we have. There will still be jerks; there will always be jerks running around with “Don’t tread on me” signs and refusing to do what is needed for the good of all.

The key now is to let go of those false hopes for a return to how things used to be and to focus upon making the best of things as they are and will be. We must learn from this experience and hopefully be better prepared for the next big things that happens to us. We have already learned that we were woefully prepared at all levels of government  for this event; just as we learned from Hurricane Katerina how poorly prepared FEMA was  for that type of event.

This event exposed the poor planning and preparedness at the Federal level (exacerbated by the total lack of understanding and leadership at the top) and the lack of any form of Federal/State coordination to deal with such events. That needs to change, beginning in November. There will be lots of campaign talk about being better prepared for the next major crisis. Try to find the few honest politicians who aren’t just blowing smoke and vote for them

At a personal level, each person needs to reflect on what they discovered about themselves, their lives and their relationships during this crisis.

Financial planners have been telling us forever that we need  to have at least 6-8 month cushion of readily available cash to see us through temporary setbacks like this. That is to say, that you need 6 to 8 times what your normal bills would be in an “emergency fund” that you can readily access. That’s a lot and it won’t be easy to save that amount, but it should be your goal when you get back to work. That means a lot of sacrifice for a while, but keep in mind how exposed and helpless you felt during the current crisis and that might help you make those sacrifices for the future.

While I certainly don’t espouse that we all become “preppers”, stocking our bunkers in anticipation of a Zombie apocalypse, this experience did expose how ill prepared most are to ride out even a short crisis. We have become accustomed to being able to hop in the car and go get a roll of toilet paper or some eggs when we run out. We did not anticipate the hoarding and supply chain issues that this crisis exposed. Being better prepared may mean having a better-stocked pantry that can supply our needs for a week or more.

As for our relationships, I suspect that being quarantined in place with family was an eye opener for many, especially for husbands who now see what their wives go through every day with the kids. For a few that may have been the straw that broke an already shaky marriage. For many, I hope it was the event that changed the relationship from one of convenience to one of interdependency – from love in the Greek word Eros to that of Agape. . For couples, that may mean a completely new understanding of the words “us” and “we”.

And for our feelings about ourselves, this event likely forced more alone, “ME” time than any that has led up to it. Some probably came away disappointed or depressed with what they came face to face with in that alone time. Hopefully, most love themselves enough to have enjoyed a bit of time alone to think and reflect on life. With that base of loving yourself, you could also explore your love for others and perhaps make some life changes to better share and express that love.

A friend of mine is a financial planner who uses the tag line – “People don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan”.  That was certainly true for most of us before this crisis. We can take actions coming out of this experience to make sure that it is not true when the next crisis hits. So, let go of the past and hopes for a return to something that is gone. Start planning  for your future. That future starts now.

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