We’re halfway into 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic has undeniably changed our lives. As we adjust to our “new normal,” it’s easy to focus on those changes. But it’s important to think about the bigger picture, too. What does your career look like now, and what will it look like post-pandemic? How have your finances changed during quarantine? What about your mental and physical health?
As the pandemic has demonstrated, we should be prepared for the unknown. Let’s discuss preparing yourself financially, and personally, for your future.
Assess Your Career
How has your company reacted to the pandemic? If executives kept the safety and happiness of their employees a top priority, maybe that has made you even more committed to your role. On the other hand, maybe your company has bungled its communication system, or they could have been more transparent about the actions they were taking. If you weren’t happy with their reaction to COVID-19, perhaps that has changed the trajectory of your career with that company.
Similarly, think about how you feel about your work. The pandemic has certainly made us all reflect on our priorities. Life is short, and we want to spend our time doing meaningful work. If your current career isn’t fulfilling, think about retiring (if you’re near that stage) or searching for another job that’s in line with your values.
If you do want to search for a different career, are you prepared to make that change? Are there ways to develop professional skills now for the career that you want? Can you take courses or online training to be prepared? Some may cost money now, but think of these resources as an investment in your career and future.
Reevaluate Your Needs and Money Values
On that note, it’s a good time to reevaluate your needs. What do you need to live a happy, comfortable life? Are you willing to continue giving what you’re giving in certain aspects of your life? This isn’t just about finances; it’s also about time, stress, and effort.
Your current workload is one example. Are you happy with your work-life balance, or has the pandemic made you consider working fewer hours to spend more time with loved ones? Your commute and work setup is another example. Perhaps you’ve transitioned to working remotely, and you’re finding that you enjoy it much more than working in an office. Is it worth moving into an entirely remote work position? Would you like to trade commute time and expenses to upgrade your home office?
Along with your needs, maybe your money values have changed, too. You might want to prioritize your emergency fund and savings accounts now, or you want to stick to budgeting so you have a stronger sense of control over your finances. What may have been previously important to you might seem less so, in the wake of COVID-19. And that’s okay. Be honest with yourself.
Pay Attention to Your Physical and Mental Health
The unknown can also include big medical expenses. Reduce the risk to your health as much as possible by caring for yourself, physically and mentally.
Consider your diet, level of exercise, and how much good sleep you’re getting. You should be eating a healthy, balanced diet full of fruit, vegetables, and lean proteins. And even though you may not be able to visit your gym right now, or participate in your favorite physical activities outdoors, there are ways to get the exercise you need while still social distancing. A quick walk around the neighborhood for 30 minutes a day can help maintain a healthy weight, improve heart health and strength, and boost your mood.
Speaking of mood, don’t neglect your mental health. Quarantine and social distancing can feel quite isolating. Talk to loved ones through video chat or on the phone, if you can’t see them in person. Devote time to hobbies you love. Meditate or write down your thoughts in a journal.
Figure Out What You Want Your Future to Look Like
As things return to some semblance of “normal,” now is the time to reflect on what you want your future to look like. If there are routines and habits that you don’t miss, why return to them? Figure out ways to kick those habits, or replace old routines with new ones.
The bottom line is, you should make adjustments for the short-term and long-term to prepare for your future. Evaluate your spending and saving. Make changes according to your revised money goals. Invest in your mental and physical health, as well as your professional skills. Take note of the changes you want to take with you into the future, and what you’d like to leave behind.