what can you control

What can you control? [PMP #170]

I really didn’t want to write about COVID-19 this week. It’s all anyone is talking about and I don't really want to add to the noise. Then again, it’s hard to write about anything else because everyone is pretty distracted right now. The best I can do is to share my thoughts on the best ways to respond to this crisis. So here goes…

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At times like this, I personally believe one of the best things you can do is to focus on the things you have control over. This is something I’ve come to learn the importance of as I’ve learned more about Stoicism. In fact, Ryan Holiday’s book, The Obstacle is the Way, is pretty fitting right now and if you’re stuck in isolation with nothing to do, I highly recommend it.

The Stoics believe that worrying about things you can’t control is a waste of your time and effort. It’s better to focus on the things you actually do have control over. Of course, this is easier said than done…

Not one of us can control the Coronavirus. Individually, we can’t stop the spread or the impact it’s having on the global economy. But we can control our response and the choices we make from here. And if we all make the right choices, together, we can lessen the impact and start to recover.

So, I’ve given this some thought and here are some of the things I can control (that maybe you can as well):

I can choose to work from home. At the time of writing this, New Zealand is at alert level 2. This means employers should be asking people to work from home but it’s not required. I expect we’ll reach level 3 this week and it will become mandatory. Despite this, I’ve already decided to pack up my desk at my co-working space so I can work from home instead. This will help reduce my exposure to COVID-19 and means I’m less likely to contribute to the spread.

I can find things to be grateful for. There’s no doubt these are tough times and it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. Keeping a positive mindset and finding things to be grateful for will help you to get through. One of the things I’m most grateful for is that our 18-month old boy Jay is too young to know what’s going on. He has no idea what’s happening in the world right now and besides not going to playgroups, he has nothing to worry about. Ignorance is bliss and knowing that Jay’s has nothing to worry about is a comforting thought.

I can take steps to reduce the impact on my business. As much as possible, I’m trying to cut expenses (like my co-working bill) to save as much cash as we can. Right now, my business hasn’t been that affected by the virus. But I have no idea how long this will go on for and if the global economy goes into a prolonged recession (which is looking more and more likely) I want to have as much cash saved up as I can. I’m also talking to the bank to switch our mortgage to interest-only and will probably talk to the tax department in the new financial year to delay our tax payments. These are all just precautions. My hope is that we’ll bounce back from this in a month or two. But if we don’t, I want to take steps now to reduce the impact on the business.

I can adapt. As the COVID situation develops I’ll be doing everything I can to adapt to the situation. This might mean changing how I position myself or how I package and price my services. I don't know what the future holds or how I’ll need to adapt just yet, but I’m keeping an open mind and will do what I can when the time calls for it.

I can stay healthy. Another thing I’m grateful for is our good health. In our family, we’re all pretty active, sleep well and have eat healthy diets. These are all things I can control to make sure I’m as resistant as possible to the COVID-19 virus. So even though the gym is probably going to have to close soon, we’ll still be working out at home to maintain our routine and health.

I can invest in myself and my business. Work is still pretty steady, but if work slows down and I have more free time. You can bet I’ll be putting this to good use by investing in myself and my business. For example, I can create content, record new videos, add to my online courses. All things that I can invest time into now so that when business picks up again I can be ready.

Rather than just sitting back and worrying about the COVID situation, focusing on what you can control and taking action at the very least makes us feel like we’re doing something.

And please don't take this post to mean I’m not worried. I am anxiously watching and waiting to see what happens just like everyone else. But I’m still trying to remain positive and focus on the things I can control.

How are you responding to COVID-19? Please share your thoughts, feedback or concerns in the comments below.