By Jennifer Harris
Recovering after COVID-19 may seem like a remote and distant objective as the nation fights a fierce battle to overcome the deadly health crisis that is the coronavirus. Between daily news reports tallying the escalating numbers of Americans battling and succumbing to the disease, and the millions of people facing the loss of income, jobs, and businesses, it may be difficult to think about life after the crisis, no matter how often we are reassured that we will get through it.
Coach, real estate entrepreneur, speaker, and author Jennifer Harris faced and overcame career and financial disruption when her successful career as a network engineer was derailed. The corporation she worked for shifted her entire department overseas. The founder of Purses, Pumps and Power, a network created to empower women to “step into their destiny of wealth,” shares the key mindset shifts she made to survive and thrive after her personal crisis, which is applicable to the challenge of recovering after COVID-19.
DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE CRISIS IS OVER TO TAKE ACTION
Harris says that as a single woman with only herself to rely on, she began by dealing head-on with a reality that can be both frightening and empowering: “I am 100% responsible for my income.”
When Harris realized that her income and financial stability were at risk because of tech jobs being outsourced to other countries, she didn’t wait out the crisis; she took action. “I already had a plan in motion to go into real estate,” she explains. “I didn’t wait for my roof to tumble down. I had to change my mindset: Repair your roof while it’s sunny outside.”
Recovering after COVID-19 will require you to adopt similar thinking. Don’t let sheltering in place cause you to go into hibernation until the crisis is over. Whether you are working from home for an employer or you are a business owner, remain an engaged, visible, and valuable asset to colleagues, customers, and others in your industry via videoconferencing, phone, and social media. Use this time to explore other opportunities, both to generate immediate income and plant seeds of opportunity once coronavirus restrictions are lifted. Be an active participant in virtual conferences, webinars, and other activities where you can demonstrate your skills and abilities, pick up new ones, and make networking contacts you will need once the crisis is over.
BE PREPARED TO ACCEPT RISKS IN PURSUIT OF OPPORTUNITY
It is natural, when facing unemployment and loss of income, to become gun-shy and risk-averse. However, recovering after COVID-19 will require you to accept some risk in pursuit of opportunity.
“My first coach was my father,” says Harris. “He taught me to look for and go after opportunity. Accept some risk, but also evaluate the potential reward.”
Setting yourself up for opportunities to generate income and restore your finances once the crisis is over, will likely require you to spend and invest money now, even though resources are tight and the future is uncertain. In Harris’ case, it meant investing time and money to begin learning and investing in real estate even when she knew that the elimination of her job and the income she relied on was imminent. During the COVID-19 crisis, it might mean spending money on that webinar or online training or subscribing to services necessary to launch a new business or generate more income from a hobby or side-hustle. If you’re a small business owner, this is the time to investigate and apply for loans and grants being offered by both the government and private companies aimed at getting you through the crisis while saving jobs.
Don’t just passively wait for relief from the government, or rely on a temporary reprieve from paying rent, mortgage, and other bills. When the health emergency is past and the economy is no longer on pause, those financial obligations will return and you will have to meet them. The worst thing you can do is to just Netflix and chill until the coronavirus nightmare is over. Failing to seek out and pursue opportunities now will make recovering after COVID-19 that much more difficult.
“Scared money don’t make money; closed mouths don’t get fed,” says Harris. “You can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and wait to jump into the game.”
MAKE A PLAN TO RESTORE AND DIVERSIFY YOUR FINANCIAL RESOURCES
Begin thinking now, while the economy is shut down and many activities are on hold, of ways to generate income from sources other than those you may have relied upon before the coronavirus crisis—even if you will have a job or business to go back to once economic activity resumes and America goes back to work. Also, make plans to rebuild or establish savings, insurance, retirement accounts and other resources that you may have been forced to deplete or let lapse during the crisis. Diversifying sources of income, as well as investments and other financial assets, must be a key priority of recovering after COVID-19.
Through her organization Purses, Pumps and Power, Harris coaches women to identify and fill seven “purses”: real estate, stocks, career, investments (including retirement accounts), savings (including an emergency fund), entrepreneurship and foreign exchange (FOREX) trading. While each person will prioritize these according to her individual financial situation, goals, and lifestyle, Harris’ larger goal is to help her clients to diversify their resources so that they can adapt to change and weather disruptions.
However, Harris says, it won’t happen without adopting the right mindset. “That’s what the ‘pumps’ represent,” she explains. “You need to commit to the life work and personal development that will drive you to your goals. Your pumps represent the fuel that will empower you to move forward in the face of uncertainty, challenges, and disruption.”
Hopefully, once the nation makes it past the current crisis and the engines of our economy have been restarted, most people will have jobs to return to and businesses to revive. However, with the unprecedented disruption to both employment and business ownership, many will not. No matter which outcome seems more likely, it’s important that people begin to adapt their mindset for a new normal—both new challenges and new opportunities—after the coronavirus crisis is over. Doing so may be the difference between merely surviving the health crisis and thriving after the coronavirus is beaten. Recovering from COVID-19 starts now.