Thinking about tomorrow

My mind has been racing back and forth in the last weeks since we have been at home. While the daily life keeps me in the here and now (hello potty training!), conversations with anyone other than my 2-year old are more focused on the long term. What’s hereafter?

And it seems I am not the only one. Now that most countries are thinking about or taking initial steps to reopen the economy, many of us are moving between these stages of ‘here’ and ‘after’ – life during and life after (or with?) COVID. How different will it be?

Questions that have been raised to me have been focused on 3 main categories: Career, Relationships, and Lifestyle. Let me share with you some anecdotes and key questions to ask yourself during this time and hopefully it provides some food for thought.

Career: Positioning for success

With non-essential business closed, many have been furloughed, and prolonged job insecurity is high. With an unattractive job market, it is unlikely you will be able to secure a job in the next few months. Not impossible, just unlikely.

If you are one of the lucky ones, and you still have your job, income and can work well remotely, you may still feel insecure about the longevity of your job as the overall economy is down.

Short-term thinking would be focused on taking it day by day, taking the daily COVID news in and making the most of your ‘time off’. Long-term thinking, however, is focused on how to land a job post-COVID, and maybe not just any job. But where to start?

Key questions to ask yourself:

- How do I position myself for success? How can I make myself relevant?

- What do I need to do now to accomplish that?

- What do I seek and value in future employment?

Relationships: Rethinking your social preferences

In the first weeks of social distancing, people would laugh about a COVID baby boom or divorce rates going up. Being so close together during this time can benefit and/or complicate relationships. Whether you just started dating (and now continue a Zoom relationship, or maybe moved in together right away, who knows?), or have been married for a long time, being quarantined and confined to a small space requires a lot of effort from everyone.

In contrast to spending more time with those you live with, physical contact with friends and family outside of home is severely constrained these days. Which has brought many of us to cherish and prioritize these relationships going forward. With the missing of today, how do we plan for a richer social life in the future?

Key questions to ask yourself:

- What is a good balance of social interaction for me?

- What do I find important in my relationships & what do I want to get out of them?

- Who do I want to be in each of my relationships?

Lifestyle: Re-prioritizing your needs

Living in New York City, I have seen many of my friends flee the city to suburban houses, to flee COVID, to live a little larger now the whole family is home all day, and to have accessible outdoor space. We stayed home and are now contemplating ‘leaving’ every day this crisis is prolonging. Not necessarily to flee COVID, but to have some more space (and not have kids ambush important conference calls).

It is a short-term mindset focused on our short-term lifestyle. And while we might be able to afford renting a place short-term, is it not wiser to save money for longer term plans?

With as many unemployed as there are now, average household income has drastically gone down. Resulting in unpaid apartment rent, shopping only the essentials, and maybe even having to get subsidized daily meals.

While it is obvious that survival is most important at this moment, long-term questions regarding our households & lifestyle are becoming more prevalent every day this ‘new normal’ continues. How are our future lifestyle plans influenced and how can we adjust?

Key questions to ask yourself:

- What do I value in my current lifestyle that I need now to overcome this crisis?

- How will this situation influence my means for longer term plans?

- What have I learned from my current lifestyle I can use going forward?

These questions are not easily answered and take time. Take your time to ponder on them and talk about it with friends and family. You will not be the only one thinking about this.

And if you want to talk to someone else for a change, I am here as well.

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