3 WaysYou Can Switch Gears in This Time of Pandemic

Build the future “you” now.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

“When we are no longer able to change a situation — we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Viktor E. Frankl

Ladies and Gentlemen. We are now faced with a once in a lifetime pandemic that is changing the world. How it will change has yet to be seen.

No matter how much time we spend watching the news and worrying about what will happen to us, your guess is just as good as mine. Unless you’re a top scientist or a fortune teller.

Before your mind becomes absorbed in conspiracy theories and wondering what’s going to happen, this is the perfect time to plan your future.

Now that you have some downtime, here are three ways to change your mentality and your life.

1. Don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks.

Now, more than ever, you should have the motivation to try new things. This crazy time in history has put us against the ropes, but we’re not down for the count just yet.

Whether you’ve been laid off, fired, still working but at a fraction of what you were, our first instinct is to panic. Just imagine you get into a fight. If you’re a fight instead of flight kind of person, your first instinct is to start swinging.

But for people who train in mixed martial arts, boxing, wrestling, and any sport for that matter, you learn to breathe and stay calm. By breathing, you bring more oxygen into your body. By staying calm, your muscles don’t get tense and you don’t burn valuable energy.

This is our time to breathe and stay calm.

If you’ve been laid off or fired, then there is no harm in trying something new. It may not be exactly what you want to do, but if it helps you survive, then it’s worth its weight in gold.

If you’ve always wanted to start a business, this is the time to sit down and come up with a game plan. More people are on social media these days, so doing market research is easier than ever.

But don’t break the bank or take out a loan for something that’s not well thought out. Whatever your idea, be sure to go through as many scenarios as you can. Calculate the risks versus the rewards.

When the economy is firing on all cylinders and people are happy with their jobs, no one wants that to change. But right now people are more open than ever to change. We are open to new ideas and different ways of doing things.

This is where brainstorming and number 2 come into the picture.

2. Look for opportunities you didn’t see before.

With the world being in one of the most chaotic states that we’ve seen in our lives, people are scrambling. Some are ready to throw in the towel, and some are making adjustments and finding success in ways they never thought.

“It is one of the beautiful compensations in this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

My friend, Steve Haumschild, who operates a brewery and pub in Hawaii has found opportunities to help keep his staff working while helping the local community by doing things from making hand sanitizer to delivering fruits and veggies.

With his pub, Lanikai Brewing Company, closed for weeks, beer was starting to go bad. He decided to use expired beer and make hand sanitizer to donate to local hospitals and clinics.

Another problem in Hawaii is local farmers not being able to distribute their fruits and veggies at the popular farmer’s markets due to COVID-19. Steve has helped connect these farmers to their customers by setting up a delivery service called Keo and Company. Fruits and veggies that would have been thrown out are now helping feed people.

My own experience

Part of my work here in Japan is teaching English at my house in a room that I’ve converted into a classroom. My students range from 3 to 75 years old. Half of the classes are in groups of three, and the other half are one-on-one private lessons.

I canceled all of my group classes from March and all classes from April. My wife, being the vigilant saleswoman she is, notified everyone that we’d be doing one-on-one English classes through Skype for those who are interested.

At first, I was reluctant to offer it to elementary age students and younger since it requires more repetition, whiteboard, and props, but we’ve made it work. Of course, some students declined due to no internet access or financial reasons.

But with time on our hands, we offered 30-minute lessons to parents who are at home and got a few takers. I also have two news students who were supposed to go overseas as exchange students, but their plans got canceled.

Another new student attends a nearby international school that has currently canceled classes. Her parents can’t help with her English and math homework (in English), so we’ve been tutoring her via Skype.

Needless to say, we are not making as much as we were before COVID-19. But by expanding our options and reaching out, we have created other opportunities. Some of our students will stay with online classes after things get back to normal, which will allow us to maintain a full income as we travel and visit family back in the U.S. a few times a year.

Opportunities are available if you look close enough. You have to be willing to think outside the box and reach out to people.

This takes us to number three.

3. Be more of a people-person than ever.

Reaching out to people has never been as easy and difficult at the same time as it is now. With social media, Youtube, and smartphones, it’s almost impossible not to be connected to people.

Facebook recommends connections with people you haven’t seen since elementary school, and Youtube allows you to see funny, crazy, and interesting people from all around the world. Some of it you wish you’d never seen.

When you put yourself, your ideas, and your beliefs out there for the world to see, it’s only inevitable that there will be judgment.

That’s why it’s important to focus on

  • helping people
  • solving problems
  • your beliefs (when it’s not disrespectful and harmful to others)
  • acceptance
  • understanding

One of my students, Tomizo Kichima, is a 70-year old retired construction company president. With years of hard work and success, he’s enjoyed lifelong relationships that have changed his life for the better.

I’ll never forget one of the best pieces of simple but thoughtful advice he gave me a few years ago. “Tommy,” as I call him, told me,

“When you bring people together, you’ll be successful.
That’s when the money will come.”

His company still provides jobs for hundreds of people building shopping centers, hospitals, schools, and other buildings that provide places to work for thousands of other people.

The Takeaway

Now, it’s your time to shine. In this crazy pandemic, there are endless opportunities. People need help and are willing to help more than ever.

Change is inevitable. Society is changing, ways of life are changing, jobs are changing, everything is changing. This is the best time for you to change, simplify your life, and live the life you want.

  • Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.
  • Look for opportunities you didn’t see before.
  • Be more of a people-person than ever.

Read more of my work here.

From Alabama but based in Japan, I write to help people create healthier, more fulfilling, and more productive lives. pauljledford@yahoo.com

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