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Focus amidst Chaos

Focus amidst Chaos

April 21, 2020

On April 12, 2020 we celebrated Easter as a nation.

At our house, we watched an Easter service streamed online. We made a fantastic ham dinner. My kids (ages 14, 11, and 9) surprisingly still wanted to hunt for Easter eggs, so Shannon and I hid eggs and the kids scavenged our yard in the blowing Idaho spring wind to find them all.

We ended the day having dessert and watching the movie Cool Runnings starring John Candy—not that this movie is an Easter tradition in our house by any means. It was free on Amazon Prime and it’s a fun light-hearted movie with an inspiring theme about the first Jamaican bobsled team and how they won over the rest of the Olympic and bobsledding community.

The best part about our day was that, for 24 hours, life felt normal.

Then Monday came and life is anything but normal living in the chaos and uncertainty of this COVID-19 event. In Idaho, Governor Brad Little just extended our stay-at-home order to April 30th. If you are an Idaho resident I encourage you to read it. As residents of Idaho we should be familiar with the provisions of this order. Not all our clients or readers are residents of Idaho, hence a quick internet search should help you find the provisions of your state’s stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders.

If we are living in a state of chaos, what does that mean? What does that mean for our jobs, businesses, families, churches, and schools? Chaos means a state of utter confusion, a confused mass or mixture.You do not need me or the Webster’s Dictionary app to tell you we are in a chaotic environment right now. Turn on the TV, read any news article, and you are inundated with information about the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Check the markets and we’ve witnessed losses equating to approximately 1/3 of its value over the last few weeks. Go to the grocery store and you’ll see empty shelves and people scrambling to stockpile whatever they deem a necessity. Traditionally, we’ve been told the currency of an apocalyptic situation is gold. Every time the stock market dips the radio airwaves here are packed with commercials about buying gold. If you can’t tell, my opinion on this is that it makes me mad. After my first few recon missions to Costco, D&B Supply, and Smith’s, I think the new currency of the apocalypse is toilet paper, canned tuna, and bullets.

Oh, and chest freezers.

We’re all being instructed to isolate ourselves and stay home. I am not going to tell you how to behave over the next few weeks or months as this all plays out. Or pretend anything in this message is as significant as what is going on in the world right now. Instead, I understand that part of my job is to share ideas and because each person reacts differently to these scenarios, I profer a few options.

Some of you may be more nervous about the world than others right now. Below are links to websites or an apps that can offer suggestions on how to deal with anxiety, depression, or loneliness during this period of self-isolation.

A great article posted on Psychology Today
Headspace app for guided meditation and mindfulness

I personally have downloaded the Headspace app and tried a couple of the guided meditations. It was nice to take 10 minutes out of my day, use that time for me, and do what I could to relax.

Time to be the genius in the room. Some of you are more focused on the economy, the markets, and thus, your nest egg. Ingest information about the markets from past chaotic times or events and think about how this might apply to this current event. Then share this information with your friends and neighbors. Knowledge is power. Use it to your advantage.

Forbes article: Stock Reactions to Previous Flu Pandemics
American Funds article: Courage! We Have Been Here Before 

Whether you view art as a means to express yourself or simply as a beautiful distraction from the sobering realities of our current situation as a nation, may I suggest exploring art from the confines of your home?

12 world-class museums you can visit online

Who knew there were virtual museum tours? For those of you parents who are now in charge of your children’s education because their school districts are closed, take an active role in your kids’ learning. Or learn something new about art together.

Ever watch the show “Brain Games” on Netflix? I highly recommend it. If you don’t have Netflix, check out the links below.

Games for the Brain: My favorite is Shipfind.
Lumosity: Discover what your mind can do

Or maybe create a Facebook page to engage your friends and family on various series or movies to watch while we all socially distance. You could have a theme each day where you suggest to each other a new show or movie to watch. Build a list of comedies, dramas, documentaries, action, or thrillers based off the suggestions everyone provides. You could also use this idea with books.

You can also use the free Zoom App to host virtual get togethers. We have done virtual chats with our families that are spread across California, Arizona, Montana, and Kansas, as well as with friends locally and in Nashville. It is so much better than just talking on the phone.

I know there have been news stories about Zoom not being encrypted from end to end. They give you the option to set a meeting password. Use it. Then don’t discuss anything too risquè at your meeting.

I’m not sure of the entire context of this quote by Bob Dylan, but chaos can be a friend. At least it can be something to not be feared.

We are in uncertain times. I can’t guarantee an outcome for you right now. No one really can.

This time of social distancing is unprecedented and can be lonely. I hope it does not become the norm. We have more fun together. We need each other as people. We are better together.

But until we get back to normal, or arrive at the new normal, give yourself and those around you some grace. Pay attention to your own mental health during this time. Lastly, I’ll leave you with this image by Carl Richards, financial planner, author, and speaker. It’s a classic Venn diagram.

I’m sure there are lots of things that matter to you. You may think there are lots of things you can control. This coronavirus event should have shown us that most things are out of our control.

However, within those two spheres there is an intersection of things that matter to you and things you can control. Focus on those things right now.

* Cover photo courtesy of Mick Haupt on Unsplash.
* Quotes with images created by Shannon Woolley. Photos courtesy of Unsplash creators.
* Carl Richards' Behavior Gap sketch used under Creative Commons Attribution license.