What's NEXT For You?

Gwen Garrison |

As frightening as it may be, it's time to think about yourself and your own situation very carefully.

The massive changes that have impacted each and all of us in this pandemic are life-altering.  In the midst of just trying to cope day to day, it is difficult to look ahead.  It is scary.  Because we really don't know what's coming.

The initial relief that many people felt, knowing that taxpayers would receive checks and small businesses would receive loans, has morphed into disappointment and frustration.  If and when financial assistance comes, it may be too late to make much of a difference.

Plus, new challenges arise as states begin to open up.  Living in Georgia, we are acutely aware of this.  Businesses that re-open change the eligibility for unemployment assistance for their employees.  Workers may be forced to choose between their job that provides some income (such as in restaurants), their health, or no money at all.

Businesses must bear the expense to make their workplaces safe for employees and customers alike, and owner wonder if, and how soon customers will return.  Even people who still have jobs may yet be furloughed or let go as more industries drastically affected by the pandemic begin to lay off people by the thousands.

It is time to think about yourself and your own situation very carefully.  Keep in mind 3 words.  Awareness.  Acceptance.  Action.

Gather as much information as you can about how your finances are affected now.  If nothing changes, how much income do you have to live on?  How long will your savings last?  Are your usual expenses more or less than your income? Are you in a job that is secure, or one that you expect to go away?  Are you trying to return to work for a small business that is struggling?  Do you own a small business that is struggling?

Calmly think about the possibilities for change in your life and your finances in the next 30, 60 and 90 days -- both for the good and for the bad.  This is awareness.  What's your best-case scenario?  Your worst-case scenario?  Notice strong feelings that may surface about what politicians, government agencies, local banks or other businesses are doing or not doing.  Set that aside to sort through a bit later. Right now, those are distractions.  Focus on you.  Get all of this information written down in some organized fashion that works for you.  This is REALITY.

You probably don't like what you see.  Life may have changed forever.  Acceptance means that you face up to the reality, the facts of whatever you are dealing with, regardless of how you feel about it.  The situation may scare the pants off of you.  The facts may stir up tremendous grief over losses that are occurring.  You have no idea what to do about it.  That's OK.  Perhaps you can talk about your feelings with someone who cares about you.  Pay attention to those feelings, and then get back to working on taking care of yourself.  Ask yourself, "What's NEXT?"

Now you're ready to take action: Ask yourself, "What do I need to do to take care of myself RIGHT NOW?"  If you are a spiritual person, I suggest you ask God that question as well.  Then be quiet and listen.  Write down whatever ideas come to mind.  You may be surprised at what you hear.  Then ask, "What do I need to do first?"  Write that down and get started, doing whatever your current situation makes it possible to do.  When that task is done, come back and ask the questions again.  They may change, based on additional experience and information you've had.  These answers are just for you.  You do not have to justify, explain, or defend them to anyone else.  They are your evolving road map to get through this crisis and make a life on the other side.  By tackling one task at a time, you can keep the fear and panic at bay long enough to do something constructive.  These kinds of small steps help to counteract the powerlessness you may feel, and they show you what effect you can have on your situation.

At a time when many of us are feeling powerless and afraid, this process can provide some calmness and direction.  You may find that your current job is destined to disappear.  If so, don't wait.  Start planning NOW how to generate income and transition into another field.  If you own a small business that was not doing well before the pandemic, seriously consider whether you want to incur debt or tap retirement accounts, just to keep it afloat a few more months.  Would you be better off to conserve those resources to help you transition into your next kind of business or work?  If you have a trusted advisor, you might talk about these issues with him or her.  Be intentional about your next steps.

Both Sibyl and I have pivoted through a number of overwhelming life changes in our lives, and we would be happy to speak with you.  Call for an appointment today or go to www.lifeplanfinancialadvisors.com to schedule a convenient time to talk about your future.  Feel free to share this information with anyone who will benefit from reading it.