7 Steps to Move Forward in a Crisis
- Check Your Emotions
- Ensure You Have A Positive Mindset
- Take Stock/Inventory
- Create a Basic Plan
- Make an Ongoing List of Opportunities and Ideas
- Continue Marketing and Advertising
- Prioritize and Schedule Your Actions
1) Check Your Emotions
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt
FEAR. Fear is super powerful and can cause you to make poor decisions or no decision at all. Either way, we need to understand that we are likely afraid of something during these uncertain times. You may not be fearful of getting sick, but you could be afraid that friends or loved ones will. You may think the virus is being overblown, but you could still be afraid about losing your job or business.
On the flip side, you could be operating from a place of overconfidence. This could lead to poor decisions and excessive risk taking.
Either way, the most important thing you can do is recognize that you are likely operating with a personal bias. Self awareness is a critical skill in good decision making. Be sure to stop yourself before making decisions and check your emotions.
2) Ensure You Have a Positive Mindset
“Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear” - Tony Robbins
More on fear…
The media thrives on fear and negativity. More people watch the news when they are afraid. It is completely natural and instinctive for us to seek out this information. We just want to know what we should be afraid of. That’s how we survive as a species.
It’s your job to recognize the news, Facebook, and other media is designed to keep your attention...especially if it triggers a negative emotion in you. Fear, sadness, anger, depression....
It’s very difficult to be productive or creative when you are experiencing these emotions.
So….what do you do?
Turn it off...stop watching...stop scrolling.
You don’t need to be the most informed person on Facebook. You don’t need to impress your friends with how much you know about the corona virus. You don’t need to know the latest infection rate or body count. You don’t need to know how many test kits the government has delivered.
Turn it off...stop watching...stop scrolling.
Positivity. Creativity. Energy. Opportunity. Optimism
You need to have a positive mindset. We are going to get through this. We don’t know when or how yet, but we know we are going to get through this.
The question is...are you going to have anything to show for it at the end?
Are you going to take advantage of this time? Or are you going to waste it worrying about the unknown?
I suggest focusing on what you can control. ...You can control your mindset. ...You can control your actions. ...You can control your thoughts.
This is an amazing opportunity to have the time and space to learn, to develop a skill, to innovate, to create, to improve.
What are you going to do?
3) Take Stock/Inventory
The first two steps are the most critical steps in this process, so if you need to go back to steps 1 and 2 at any time, please do it.
Ok, now we move on to assessing where we are at and what we have.
You need to take stock of everything you have. Make a list….write it down.
I suggest making a few lists here.
a) List out all of your assets. Money, stocks, savings, collectables, valuables. Basically, list anything that either has monetary value or could be sold or traded.
b) List out all of your strengths, skills and experience. This could be a natural trait, like leadership, or something you learned in school, like accounting. It could be skills you gained in previous jobs, like construction or retail sales. Don’t overthink it and don’t leave anything out.
c) List out your network. Write down everyone you know personally and professionally. Doesn’t matter how well you know them right now. You could go back and rate them later...maybe categorize them as close, near and outer networks. More importantly, write down what that person does. Are they a doctor, manager, therapist, teacher, etc? Or do they run a business or a non profit organization? This is a super valuable exercise because you will use your network for the rest of your life.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, AND who they know.” - Unknown
d) List out your resources. This will be different from your list of assets and network, but very related. Your available resources could be something someone in your network has that you know you could utilize if asked. It could be something to do with where you live, like access to the beach (great for photography?).
For all of these lists, you won’t be able to get them all written down in one sitting. So, keep the lists open and keep adding to them as you think of more to add.
4) Create a Basic Plan
In order to move forward in a systematic manner, you need to have a plan. Otherwise, you will either be making it up as you go or constantly changing your direction with each new piece of information or idea, which might just cause you to go in circles and not forward.
The problem is there are a lot of unknowns and circumstances are changing almost daily. So, let’s again go back to focusing on what we CAN control but with a few different scenarios in mind.
Start by making plans on how you are going to respond and manage your life and business based on three different scenarios….Good, Bad and Worst.
The definition of these scenarios will be different for each person. For someone who is young and healthy, getting the virus may be bad, but not the worst scenario. For an older person or someone with weaker immune systems, getting infected might fall into their worst case scenario.
- Good - this could be a scenario where you are able to maintain your current income levels and are able to pay all of your current bills and obligations.
- Bad - maybe your income gets cut significantly and you will need to use your savings or credit cards to pay for the basic necessities for a few months.
- Worst - maybe you lose your job and don’t have any savings or other help to support your basic needs.
The critical part of any plan is to have milestones and measurements. Your measurements will likely be based on money and other assets that we assessed in step 3.
For example, you know if you lost your job that you would be eligible for unemployment and you have enough savings that would last for one month. So, the key milestones to have plans in place for in this scenario are; a) lost job and b) one month after job loss. What actions will you take at each of those milestones? Immediately file for unemployment? Sell some assets? Find another job at Amazon or the local grocery store? Negotiate lower or deferred payments on rent/morgage, etc.?
If you have thought through each scenario ahead of time and decided what actions to take at each milestone, then you are far less likely to panic and make bad decisions based on fear.
Most people will ignore this process and just turn on the TV, endlessly scroll through social medial or play video games, with the hope that everything will work out. ...or worse, think that someone or something (like the government or corporations) will bail them out. ...that’s a terrible plan.
Don’t be a victim to circumstance...make a plan.
5) Make an Ongoing List of Opportunities and Ideas
This is the fun part!
Simply write down all of the different ways that you can make money, learn, get better at something, problems you can solve, and anything else you can think of that would be valuable to do over the next several weeks or months.
- What jobs could you do?
- What services could you offer in your community or on sites like Fiverr or Upwork?
- What skill could I learn? What classes could I take online?
- What problems are people trying to solve right now?
- What business could I start?
- What have you always wanted to do or try but didn’t have the time? ie - write a blog/book, start a business, start a non-profit, etc.
Get creative and don’t dismiss any ideas as too big or unrealistic…just write them down and keep adding to your list. Good ideas usually build on other ideas and thoughts.
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” - Sun-Tzu, The Art Of War
This is truly a time of opportunity, so what are you going to do with it?
6) Continue Marketing and Advertising
Grow, Grow, Grow…your audience.
Marketing and advertising is not just about selling stuff. It’s also about building an audience and providing value to that audience so when they are ready to buy, they think of your or your business first.
If you own a business, this is your prime opportunity to get in front of your ideal customer on social media. The easiest and cheapest way to be seen is via social media...especially right now. What value can you provide for people in your community via social media?
I know of several chiropractors and massage therapists that get 70% or more of their new patients via Instagram!! They get a lot of attention on Instagram simply by posting their treatments and sharing knowledge with their audiences. You can find several examples on the Myofascial Releaser Instagram page, like @bryanna_lmt or @dr.leahrose or @ephillips13 on Instagram. Or Dr. Brenda Mondragon on YouTube.
Need money now?
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers and potential customers to buy something of value. Understand that some people will not be able or are unwilling to make purchases right now, but many people still can. You need to survive too. Your business needs to survive. Most people understand that. Don't worry about the ones who don't.
Many restaurants are offering killer discount deals in order to keep some business coming in each day. What can you offer? Gift cards? Package deals? Home service? Delivery? Telehealth? Coaching?
If you do not have a business and don’t want to start one, then you should be building your “marketable skills.” In other words, knowledge and skills that would be valuable to a company who would want to hire you for that knowledge and skill. Build your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Everyone should be building their network. Often your network will do advertising and marketing for you without even needing to ask. This is often in the form of personal referrals.
Your network is one of your biggest assets in life and business, so make sure you are staying connected to your current network and then figure out how to expand your network.
- Call or email your best customers to check in on them.
- Volunteer in your community
- Join some local Facebook groups and provide help or answers to their questions and concerns
- Call a friend or coworker everyday
- Develop partnerships with others in your industry or other small business owners
Be creative and ask others how they build their networks.
Your competition is going to get real conservative or complacent right now, so you should do the opposite and be aggressive and active in your marketing. Be smart with spending, but aggressive in your efforts.
7) Prioritize and Schedule Your Actions
You are likely going to have a long list of opportunities and ideas, so now you need to decide which ones you are going to work on.
I’d suggest keeping things simple and pick your top 3.
A book that I like and helped me to prioritize my list was, The One Thing by Gary Keller. Gary says to focus on your top priority first before taking action on the others. That’s a very over simplified statement, but I try to implement this by getting 1 thing done everyday that gets me closer to accomplishing or completing my top priority.
Once you determine your top priorities, create your daily/weekly schedule. Some people like to time block each day to work on specific activities, while others like to block entire days. For example, you could schedule 3 blocks of 2 hours each day to work on each of your three priorities. Or you could dedicate a whole day to priority #1 and the next day to priority #2, etc. There’s really no formula to follow.
The key is to create a schedule that you will actually follow. Waiting until you wake up to see how you feel that day before deciding what to work on, is most likely going to lead to failure...but that is exactly what most people do.
As with everything else...WRITE IT DOWN. You are way more likely to stick to your schedule if you write it down and keep it somewhere visible.
Stay positive. Stay creative. Stay active. Stay healthy.
Keep moving forward.