Taking Action on an Uncertain Future
Chameleons are nature’s model for adapting to an ever-changing environment. Most of us aren’t willing to take that leap. We’ll just wait for things to go back to normal so we don’t have to change. Waiting to adapt, however, could be a costly strategy.
In April of 2020 — after spending more than 200 days in the isolation of space — three crew members from the International Space Station returned to Earth to re-enter a different world than the one they left. They now find themselves adapting to a new isolation on their home planet.
When the pandemic is over and the virus contained, the survival instincts baked into our DNA through evolution will guide us through adapting to a new environment. Just like the astronauts, the world we step out into will be different from the one left behind.
The coronavirus has disrupted our lives and the lives of literally everyone on the planet. The cliché of all of us being in this together is painfully true. An economic tsunami is also taking shape that is equally unimaginable and could wreak havoc for the long term.
Those who fail to adapt will struggle profoundly.
This isn’t about choosing the economy over human lives. Regardless of how the pandemic ends (and it will) or how the economy reinvigorates itself (or doesn’t), there will be a post-pandemic period in which we may be trading ‘isolation’ for ‘austerity.’
As challenging as it might be, look beyond the immediate crisis. Sweep all the politics and raging opinions aside. Extricate yourself from the noise of the news. Think about what the new normal might be for you and those you love six months or a year from now. Begin adapting to a changing environment.
The virus is no one’s fault. We spend so much time assigning blame as if it would solve the problem. COVID-19 comes to us courtesy of Mother Nature who would lovingly, yet firmly tell us, “Adapt or die.”
At a time when we need to be united and working toward the common good, we’re caught up in finger pointing and inaction. Years from now we’ll look back at this moment and realize we were letting our abundant way of life slip through our fingers — the very ones we were pointing with.
In the same spirit, the present state of the economy isn’t any one person’s fault either. We’re all to blame. We’ve each had a hand in living just beyond our means — or in the government’s case — way beyond.
In chasing the American Dream, we’ve been playing a game of musical chairs with our personal finances for decades. Today, 80% of the U.S. population can’t make ends meet, survives paycheck to paycheck, and can’t live without loans and credit cards. With the economy rapidly losing speed, the music will soon stop with no empty chairs in sight.
Many small businesses won’t recover from our current crisis. Entrepreneurship will drastically decline. Employees are not only losing their jobs and incomes; they’re losing their healthcare and retirement. A sense of self-preservation and a circling the wagons is being followed by hostility, aggression, and a bitter struggle to hang on to any semblance of normalcy.
Set your mind free. Release yourself from the notion someone will step in and make everything okay. Detach yourself from the herd mentality of thinking like everyone else.
Turn off the television. Turn up the voice in your head — the one you can trust.
Take responsibility for your life because no one else can or will. Do some ‘what if’ planning. What if you researched jobs and companies that are likely to do well post-pandemic? What if you started training online for a new career? What if you had contingency plans for worst case scenarios?
The wave of austerity won’t hit us next week or next month. The effects will be gradual and cumulative over the next year or two. If this sounds a little far-fetched, think about someone telling you last New Year’s Eve that 2020 will be the year of a global pandemic where you shelter in place, wear a mask in public, and stand six feet away from life as we knew it.
You’re hoping I’m wrong. I’m hoping I’m wrong.
What will you have lost, though, if you begin planning and preparing now? If the economy comes roaring back ‘like you’ve never seen’, fantastic. You’ve lost nothing. Either way you are better prepared to step out into a new world.
“It is not the most intellectual or the strongest of species that survives,” noted Charles Darwin, “but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”